Home » Fiction » #83
Asked by soylentgreen23 on Tue 20, Feb 2007 01:10am :
Okay, I can remember fragments of this book. I think it was written by an
Eastern European author, but that's probably a red herring. The story
concerns somebody recovering from an illness or a wound or something, who
is about to be put back in the army. At the last instant he fakes a
psychological collapse and ends up working on the street as an organ
grinder or something.
He meets a lonely woman in his apartment block and they begin a
relationship, but when she marries him out of sympathy for his difficult
life she finds out that a policeman also living in the building is in love
with her, and she begins to hate her new husband.
There's something else in the story about a friend of this man's, who is
always stealing sausages or something, and the book ends with the main
character dying in the toilet of a bar/restaurant/club where he had been
working as a janitor.
Hope that's enough! I've been trying to remember the name of this book for
about four years now, if you can believe it!
Answer by admin on Tue 20, Feb 2007 01:57am:
Your book was "Rebellion" (1924) by Joseph Roth.
The book is available from Amazon.com:
Various descriptions of the book:
"Rebellion is the story of war casualty Andreas Pum, whose loss of a leg is
rewarded only with a medal and a permit to play the hurdy-gurdy in the
street. At first, all goes well, but one day he crosses a prominent burgher
and is arrested. His permit is revoked, his new wife rejects him, and after
a stint in jail his life deteriorates, ending in death."
"Rebellion, chronicles the downward spiral of Andreas Pum... World War I
takes his leg, yet he accepts his fate and proudly wearing his medal on his
chest as he parades on his peg leg through the streets practicing his new
trade as an organ grinder, complete with his official permit from the
state. When Andreas Pum returns from World War I, he has lost a leg but
gained a medal... He makes his livelihood playing sentimental and patriotic
tunes on a barrel-organ. Uncomplaining, stupid, and docile, he marries the
(very) recently widowed Katharina shortly after meeting her, and settles
down for a winter of ignorant bliss.
.... An argument with another man on a tram leads to blows and,
unfortunately for Andreas Pum, the other man is of a higher class, and so
Pum loses his license to play the barrel-organ. His wife is, of course,
furious and takes up with another man, leaving Andreas to sleep on the
sofa....Fed up with being taken for a rebel -- which he most certainly is
not -- Pum finds himself in prison after striking an official... Upon his
release he seeks out his former roommate, a pimp named Willi, who now runs
a business cleaning lavatories. Andreas, older and older, feeble-minded,
close to death, and obsessed with the injustice he's suffered, goes to work
for Willi, and dies an embittered old man."
"Andreas Pum - the protagonist of this, Joseph Roth's third novel - has
lost his leg in the service of an empire that no longer exists. It seems to
him a small price to pay for what he soon gains: a valuable permit from the
authorities to operate a hurdy-gurdy anywhere in the city, a plump widow
and her affectionate daughter, even an obedient donkey named Mooli who is
his best companion, carting around the instrument for Andreas as he travels
the city to play for pennies... It is then that Andrea Pum begins his
Job-like descent into despair, a Kafkaesque combination of bad luck and
spitefulness which conspire to destroy him - he is deprived of his permit,
his donkey, his wife and he is then jailed. He spends his final days as a
bathroom attendant in a nightclub."
"the story of a Great War veteran, Andreas Pum, who loses a leg and gains a
medal. He marries, plays a barrel-organ, and is happy. But when he is
imprisoned after a fight life seems unbearably altered. Then a chance
encounter with an old comrade who has made his fortune brings Pum to a
world where he has a transfiguring experience of justice . ."
great war, world war i veterans
wiemar era fiction
Comment by soylentgreen23 on Wed 21, Feb 2007 12:57am:
Thank you so much for such a quick response! Wow - I had no idea I'd
ever read a Joseph Roth book!