The Legend of the Holy Drinker

Joseph Roth, Author, Michael Hofmann, Translator Overlook Press $14.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-87951-373-3
The tin-whistle dream of drunks and vagabonds comes true in a magical novella, the last work of an anti-fascist writer self-exiled to France from his native Silesia. Roth's ( The Radetzky March ) protagonist, an alcoholic vagrant named Andreas who lives under the bridges of the Seine, is given 200 francs by a stranger. Although he promises to donate an equal sum at the shrine of St. Therese de Lisieux, circumstances--drink, lovemaking, the price of a hotel room--prevent him. But each time that he runs out of cash, more is provided by miraculous means, perhaps by the holy intervention of St. Therese herself. In the end Andreas repays the debt with his life. Endowed with sweetness and innocence, ``our Andreas'' turns drink into a friendly guardian, a twinkle of light on the sunless horizon of 1939. The sensitive translation preserves the pared-down elegance of Roth's style and marries this final statement to the relentlessly observed, ultimately tragic novels that brought him fame. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 11/01/1989
Release date: 11/01/1989
Genre: Fiction
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