An intensely beautiful book about one of history’s bleakest periods
The Emperor’s Tomb – the last novel Joseph Roth wrote – is a haunting elegy to the vanished world of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and a magically evocative paean to the passing of time and the loss of hope. The Emperor’s Tomb runs from 1913 to 1938, from the eve of one world war to the eve of the next, from disaster to disaster. Striped with beauty and written in short propulsive chapters – full of upheavals, reversals and abrupt twists of plot – the novel powerfully sketches a time of change and loss. Prophetic and regretful, intuitive and exact, Roth tells of one man’s foppish, sleepwalking, spoiled youth and then his struggle to come to terms with the uncongenial society of post-First World War Vienna, financial ruin, and the first intimations of Nazi barbarities.