Sebastian Shakespeare

All Human Life Is Here

What I Saw: Reports From Berlin 1920-33

By

Granta Books 227pp £14.99 order from our bookshop

In 1929, Joseph Roth wrote a letter to the editor of the newspaper for which he worked, declaring his credo as a journalist. ‘I don’t write “witty columns”. I paint the portrait of the age. I’m not a reporter, I’m a journalist; I’m not an editorial writer, I’m a poet.’ These may sound like lofty claims for a jobbing hack, but this volume – the first collection of his journalism to appear in English – more than validates them. In fact, he does himself a great disservice: he can be witty, as in his observation of a nude bather (‘he would like to watch himself enter the water – only his belly isn’t made of glass’) or a drunken man (‘he lay with his head slumped on the table, as though he were trying to saw through the fake marble with his nose’).

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter