The book: Radetzky March, by Joseph Roth
The edition: Italian translation by Sara Cortesia as published by Newton Compton, paperback, 330 pages, with introduction by Giorgio Manacorda
The story: Austrian lieutenant Joseph Trotta accidentally saves emperor Franz Joseph’s life during a battle, and is rewarded with a baron title. This is the story of his lineage: his son Franz who turns into a district administrator for the Empire and only understand his bureaucracy and his fealty to the Emperor; and his grandson Carl Joseph, a military officer more keen on enjoying life than on serving; and through them, it’s the story of the Empire itself in its last years.
My experience with the book & my thoughts: I’m afraid I don’t have much to say about this book. I read it because I thought it was set in Vienna, which it is only for a very few pages. And I’m afraid I don’t have anything positive to say about it. I can see what it tries to do, commenting on Austrian society under the Empire and looking for the causes that finally ended in its ruin (which are, in the author’s view, bureaucracy and the love for luxury). Yet to me it was just an endless parade of characters who had nothing to do, and even less to say — to each other or to me.
Random thought: a short search on the Internet makes me think that it’s me who is not up to understanding this book. Again.
Read this if: I had exactly the same reaction to this as I had to Eça de Queiroz’ Os Maias, so if you liked that one you may appreciate Roth’s as well.
Counts as: Travel With Books – Vienna