Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Hotel Savoy - Joseph Roth (Week III)


It is Week III of the German Literature Month (hosted by Caroline @ Beauty is a Sleeping Cat and Lizzy @ Lizzy's Literary Life.) I read Hotel Savoy in less than a couple of days - and since I read it in German, that is quite an achievement for me. The book is only a little more than a hundred pages, though. It is a quick and quite pleasant read.

(I didn't manage to find any quote from this book in English - so I translated this on my own; unfortunately putting both the quality and the authenticity at risk.)

"I am a cold person. During the war, I never felt one with the company. We were all lying in the same dirt and waiting for the same death. But all I could think of was my own life and my own death. I walked over dead bodies, and sometimes, it hurt me that I felt no pain."


About the book: Hotel Savoy is a novel written by Austrian writer Joseph Roth. It was first published in 1924.

Summary: Gabriel Dan is a "Heimkehrer", an Austrian soldier and later, POW returning home from a Siberian prison camp. He stays temporarily at a certain Hotel Savoy in an unnamed city in Europe. Situated somewhere between Russia and Europe, Hotel Savoy regularly provides shelter to the refugees of the Great War, both the rich and the poor. Encountering a variety of people, including his presumably rich uncle, an exotic dancer and a rather old and intimidating lift-"boy" - it is in Hotel Savoy that Gabriel Dan, the cold ex-soldier, finally finds his home.

My thoughts: I loved this book for making me realize how unimportant a story line can be, in a well written book. The book has no plot; it is only a series of events stringed wonderfully together. The descriptions are beautiful and vivid. The language is simple, but the ideas are powerful.

The hotel is like a small world on it's own - a microcosm - representative of the entire post-war Europe. The characters, all very realistic, come from all sections of society, and the main theme of the novel is the effect of the war on the people. You can see that Europe will never the be same again. And then there is that tinge of humour and parody that prevents this short book from becoming dull.

The book is unlike anything I have read before. It's a must read!

2 comments:

beautyisasleepingcat said...

I really like this book, all of Joseph Roth actually. He is an author well worth reading and discovering. I was thinking of this novel while I was reading and reviewing Vicki Baum's Grand Hôtel. There are a few parallels but the style is different. I love novels set in hotels.

Tony said...

I'd like to read this, it sounds like a very interesting novel. I've never read anything by Roth, so this may be a good starting point :)

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