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Title: Facing modernity : fragmentation, culture and identity in Joseph Roth's writing in the 1920s
Author: Hughes, J. A.
Awarding Body: University of Wales Swansea
Current Institution: Swansea University
Date of Award: 2000
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Abstract:
This thesis focuses on the Austrian journalist and novelist Joseph Roth's critical engagement with the discourses which shaped European culture in the decade following the end of the First World War. Roth is still best remembered for his historical novel Radetzkymarsch (1932). However, with this in mind, I concentrate upon his work of the 1920s, much of which has been ignored in research, and attempt to chart its thematic and stylistic development, and to contextualise it both historically and within Roth's career. I am able to conclude that Roth's later texts, sometimes thought to be radically different from his earlier ones, in fact reflect, on various levels, precisely the concerns which become critical for Roth during the 1920s. Roth characterises the world in general, and the culture of the Weimar Republic in particular, as fragmented, politically, socially, artistically and psychologically. I begin by reading a key text of the 1920s, Die weiβen Städte (1925), as an attempt to discover, in an historical region of France and in the act of travel, a sense of integrated wholeness and authenticity lacking in Germany. The narrator's ingrained scepticism, however, may be related to the experience of the War, the psychological impact of which forms an important strand in the discussion, in the following two chapters, of Roth's portrayal of the fragmented psyches of the men in his fictional texts in this period. I analyse the psychological mechanisms which allow these characters to employ strategies of 'Flucht' and evasion, and which determine their problematic relations with women. In chapters four and five I turn to Roth's responses to technology and the metropolis, both of which were much discussed in the 1920s, and their effects upon identity, culture and writing. Roth's understanding of the cinema, the subject of chapter five, is notoriously problematic, and I examine in detail its development in the context of contemporary discussions of film. The thesis concludes by proposing that Roth's engagement with the culture of the 1920s determined the course his writing would take during the 1930s.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.637329  DOI: Not available
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