Sunday, March 15, 2009

Lebowski and Roth

I have to report two aesthetic experiences of note from my Highland Jaunt - I am omitting the landscape and my new tweed waistcoat. The first was watching The Big Lebowski yet again, hence the headline on my previous post. The second was finishing The Radetzky March by Joseph Roth. Nige has been urging me to read Roth for years. He was right do so. This is a masterpiece, one scene after another dazzles, dismays and inspires. From the early moment when the newly ennobled son appears in the full glory of his imperial uniform before his peasant father - 'in the alien and almost unearthly radiance of imperial favour as in a golden cloud' - to the delivery of the news of the assassination of the Archduke in Sarajevo to an absurd, drunken, army festival - 'a lone sentence made up of huge and very distinct words scrawled in blue pencil' - it is a story of delusion and failure that becomes, through some mighty act of the imagination, curiously consoling. Read it at once.


  1. A Baseline movie for you, Lebowski, I perceive.

    My favourite bit is where Goodman is scattering the ashes and they all blow back, and the Dude cries "Everything's a fucking travesty with you!" Heh heh, love that bit.

    Saw Jeff Bridges in Iron Man last night. God I'm bored of superhero movies but this was a cut above the usual. Bridges had a bald head and a big beard, it was a good look.

  2. Read the Collected Shorter Fiction next. Oh and welcome back.

  3. Excellent - Lebowski could even be a character from Roth. I first came across him when working with Polish agency workers, most of whom were highly qualified in Posnan or Lodz, but were now picking vegetables or working as hotel receptionists. You yearn for that lost ruritanian world, aware of the horrors to come. May I also recommend Czesław Miłosz, a more modern central european and a formidable intellect? Clever folks, those Poles.

  4. A tweed waistcoat? Envious Elberry.

    i think my favourite line is John Goodman's summary of the black-clad Kraut nihilists who threaten to castrate the Dude:

    "Fucking Germans. Nothing changes. Fucking Nazis."

    Which is almost as good as the line he uses to menace a sullen kid: "Have you ever heard of Vietnam?" - on paper it doesn't look that great, but Goodman's edge-of-psychosis delivery really makes it special.

  5. Can we see the tweed waistcoat?

    i nearly bought one in Oxford last year but it was quite expensive and i'd already spent a GREAT DEAL of money on cakes. i keep remembering it and wishing i'd bought it.

  6. I tried to like "The Big L," but just didn't. The dude abides, alright, but I couldn't abide him.

    Agree with Elberry: We want a photo of you modeling the tweed waistcoat.