• Perlefter: The Story Of A Bourgeois

From the author of The Radetzky March

The unfinished Perlefter: The Story of a Bourgeois was discovered among Joseph Roth’s papers decades after his death. The book chronicles the life and times of Alexander Perlefter, the well-to-do Austrian metropolitan, and his relative, a small-town narrator, Naphthali Kroj, who has come to live with Perlefter after becoming orphaned. The colourful cast of characters includes Perlefter’s four children: Foolish Alfred, with his predilection for sleeping with servant girls and widows and boasting of the venereal diseases he catches; the hapless Karoline, whose interest in math and physics and employment at a scientific institute seem to repel serious suitors; the flamboyant Julie, a sweet, pale and anemic girl who likes any man who is inclined toward marriage; and the beautiful and flighty Margarete, besotted with a professor of history.

Written around 1928-30, Perlefter represents Joseph Roth at the very peak of his literary powers – it was penned just after the publication of The Silent Prophet and just before his masterpieces Job and The Radetzky March. Rich in irony and exemplary of Roth’s keen powers of social and political observation, Perlefter is an important addition to the Roth canon.

Translated from the German by Richard Panchyk.
'I find it impossible to explain with any certainty why a writer of such immense gifts and achievements should not be more revered.' – Ronald Harwood, The Jewish Quarterly
'Roth has the technique and style of a major writer ... his prose is always equal to the diverse effects he demands of it – nicely modulated irony, lyrical flights, hard concrete descriptive passages.' – The New Republic
‘Writing about the death of an empire and the end of an era Roth perhaps seems to have more to say to us now than ever before . . . At school, I was forever having to study the Habsburg Empire; it was only reading Roth, years later, that gave it human colour and meaning, to the point where it now strikes me as being the main story of our continent.’ – Michael Hofmann


JOSEPH ROTH was born in Brody, Galicia – then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire now in Ukraine – in 1894. He served in the Austrian army between 1916 and 1918. After the war he moved to Vienna and worked for newspapers in Austria and Germany. He established a reputation for himself as a brilliant and insightful journalist. As early as 1923 he warned against the threat of Nazism, travelling extensively not only across Austria and Germany but all over Eastern Europe and Russia where he reported on the Russian revolution. In 1933, with his warnings about Fascism unheeded, he left Germany in disgust and moved to Paris where depression and alcoholism overcame him. He drank himself into an early grave in 1939.
Bibliographic Data
Date Published 16th September 2012
ISBN Number 9780720614879
Pages 224

Perlefter: The Story Of A Bourgeois

  • £9.99


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Tags: Jewish book week, Jewish writing, Austria, first world war, world war I, great war, short fiction, short novel, Roth, Joseph Roth, Philip Roth, novels austria