Membership of the Common Market seems only to have hardened the traditional British hostility towards 'foreign' authors. The great storytellers – Tolstoy, Balzac, Dostoevsky and so on – have always been welcomed and their work has now been hallowed by serialisation on television; but the mass of contemporary European writing has remained, in this country, a closed book. All this is by way of protest against the fact that Gerhard Roth, like so many others, will get neither the praise nor the attention in England that he deserves. Had he been born in Aldershot rather than Austria, Winterreise would be hailed as an impressive and at times beautiful novel.
Taking the well-worn theme of alienation, Roth manages to treat it in an unfamiliar and individual way. The narrative line is simple: Nagl, having rid himself of his teaching job and his mistress, sets off on a winter journey to Italy in the company of Anna, an old girlfriend. What