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January 05 , 2009

The Hotel Years


The first overview of all Joseph Roth’s journalism: traveling across a Europe in crisis, he declares,“I am a hotel citizen, a hotel patriot.”

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Alone in Berlin

Berlin, 1940, and the city is filled with fear. At the house on 55 Jablonski Strasse, its various occupants try to live under Nazi rule in their different ways: the bullying Hitler loyalists the Persickes, the retired judge Fromm and the unassuming couple Otto and Anna Quangel. Then the Quangels receive the news that their beloved son has been…

The Hotel Years gathers sixty-four feuilletons: on hotels; pains and pleasures; personalities; and the deteriorating international situation of the 1930s. Never before translated into English, these pieces begin in Vienna just at the end of the First World War, and end in Paris near the outbreak of the Second World War. Roth, the great journalist of his day, needed journalism to survive: in his six-volume collected works in German, there are three of fiction and three of journalism. Beginning in 1921, Roth wrote mostly for the liberal Frankfurter Zeitung who sent him on assignments throughout Germany - the inflation, the occupation, political assassinations - and abroad, to the USSR, Italy, Poland and Albania. And always: “I celebrate my return to lobby and chandelier, porter and chambermaid.”

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