Modernity, horses, and history in Joseph Roth's Radetzkymarsch

Niland, Richard and Murgatroyd, Nicholas (2016) Modernity, horses, and history in Joseph Roth's Radetzkymarsch. Literature and History, 25 (2). pp. 150-166. (

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Exploring the subject of horses in Joseph Roth's best-known novel Radetzkymarsch (1932), this essay examines how Roth's experience of and response to modernity can be understood through his treatment of the equine. While horses constitute an important subject for Roth in the urban context of his journalism and early fiction in the years following the First World War, in which he offers a politically charged lament for the decline of the horse in quotidian European urban culture, Radetzkymarsch uses the equine to connect to both historical tradition and pre-modernity, while also sceptically interrogating Habsburg imperialism in its end days. Drawing on recent work in Roth scholarship, Austrian cultural history, and animal studies, this essay examines how the horse becomes a complex symbol not only for the decline of the Habsburg empire, but of the strain which modernity places on the values of the past.