The legend of the Holy Drinker by Joseph Roth
Original title – Die Legende vom heiligen Trinker
Translator – Michael Hofmann
Source – Library book
I’m so sorry
I know exactly what you mean
Tired of being devilish
Sick of being wicked
Habitual, and untrue
Another starting over
Although it is the ending
I send regards to you
Standing on the steps
Steps of the cathedral
Watch the summer fade
Just trying to get to somewhere
Trying to get just anywhere
And I know it ain’t my day
On the steps of the cathedral by the mighty Mark Lanegan seems match this book his lyrics full of god and drinking source
Well I had planned to read a few books by Joseph Roth for the week for him this German lit month but as ever time and other books caught up with me so I only got chance to read the shortest one I got hold of but really enjoyed this Novella .Joseph Roth served on the eastern front in world war one , then became a Journalist on left-wing papers after the war .He was married , but his wife suffered mental illness for most of their marriage so was in a sanatorium .He published his first novel in 1923 , but it wasn’t to the early 1930’s and The books Job and The Radetzky march that he found real fame .Roth himself was a drinker ,this book was his final book .
On a spring evening in 1934 a gentleman of mature years descended one flights of stone steps that lead from the bridges over the Seine down to its banks .It is there that , as all over the world knows and so will hardly need reminding , the homeless poor of paris sleep or rather spend the night
The man who gives Andreas the money , finds him under that bridge
The legend of the holy drinker follows Andreas , a vagrant former coal miner , that because of a number of misfortunes he had become a down and out .But in the book we see this man get a number of pieces of good fortune starting with the mystery meeting with a man who gives him 200 francs .That he promises to ive back via a statue of Saint Theresa of Liseux to give to a certain priest .The first thing Andreas uses the money for is to go for a drink with it going straight to the nearest bar , but this leads to a meeting with former friends , lovers lead him down a path of not giving the money to the right person , moving in different circles we see the older version of Andreas shine through the man he used to be ,we also find out how he end up on the street after going to prison. Finally then there is a strange younger woman called Theresa .But is all this long-term can one escape one’s fate ?
He woke up very early in the morning .Caroline was still asleep .A solitary bird was twittered outside the open window .He lay there for a while with open eyes , no more than a couple of minutes .During those minutes he was thinking .It seemed to him that not for long time had so many remarkable things happened to him as now ,in the space of this single week .
Andreas thinks about good fortune , but is it really ?
Now this was his last book , is Andreas in some part Roth I don’t know , he seemed from his bio to be struggling with drink and ,maybe this story of a man nearly redeeming himself was in some part what he wanted .Are we all haunted by our past ? Can we escape our past ? Are we doomed to repeat the same mistakes ? These are all questions one is asking one’s self whilst reading this book .Maybe Andreas is a wider figure the lost hope and dreams of many a man , but then given a chance to escape it .Is human nature to be repeat of what we were , can we break the cycle Andreas is maybe Roth trying to discover a way through his human nature but the world around him , this was 1939 Roth was a jew living in Paris maybe this is more a tale of some one looking for redemption .I know I musing on this one but it’s that type of book a fable like feel to his prose and a gentle wit and carefully drawn lead character makes me feel there is a lot more to this one than first appears .I also love the woodcut art that is at the start of each chapter .
have you ever read a book that leaves you with a lot of questions after reading it ?