JOSEPH ROTH:THE AUSTRO-HUNGARIAN OFFICER ON THE EVE OF WW I.
- It never crossed his mind that he could follow any other calling.
- He viewed death in the field as a necessary consequence of warrior fame.
- He wore a gleaming officer’s scarf, a lacquered helmet emanating its own black sunshine, smooth fiery waxed riding boots with glittering spurs, two rows of lustrous, almost blazing buttons on his coat, and the blessing of the ethereal power of the Order of Maria Theresa.
- He loved the Radetzky March, the roll of drums, the tattoo accelerated by the march rhythm, the shattering smile of the lovely cymbals, and the rumbling thunder of the kettledrum – the brief and jolly storm of military music.
- Her spoke a nasal German that vaguely recalled distant guitars twanging in the night and also the last dainty vibration of fading bells. It was a soft but also precise language, tender and spiteful at once.
The Austrian Empire was about to collapse, but
- His ears were not sharp enough to discern the whirring gears of the great hidden mills that were already grinding out the Great War.
- Only the tavern-keeper knew and felt no more need to prove himself a loyal subject to the Kaiser. He moved the official portrait from the taproom to the kitchen. And there it was, with the emperor’s snow white uniform densely flyblown as if riddled by minute grapeshot.
(Source: Joseph Roth, The Radetzky March, trans. J. Neugroschel)