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Mapping Berlin

Representations of Space in the Weimar Feuilleton

Frances Mossop

This book was the winner of the 2013 Peter Lang Young Scholars Competition in German Studies.

The Weimar period (1919–1933) generated an immense wealth of writings that recorded impressions of daily life in the German capital of Berlin. Literary journalism, in particular, experienced a surge in popularity at the time and played a vital role in informing the public about the ‘new world’ that was emerging after the First World War.
This book offers an original approach to the German feuilleton of the 1920s and early 1930s by exploring how authors engaged with the space of Berlin on the page. Drawing on recent spatial theory, the author focuses on the role of geography and cartography in the journalistic oeuvres of Joseph Roth, Gabriele Tergit and Kurt Tucholsky. Central to this study is an interdisciplinary and comparative approach to the examination of their feuilleton articles by foregrounding spatiality within the context of literary analysis. The book demonstrates how Roth, Tergit and Tucholsky depict contemporary concerns through spatial representation, thus yielding new insights into the authors’ narration of the history, society and politics of the Weimar Republic.
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Chapter 3: The Geography of Joseph Roth’s Berlin


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The Geography of Joseph Roth’s Berlin

Joseph Roth established himself as one of the most prolific feuilleton writers of the interwar period. He began his career as a journalist for the left-of-centre Viennese daily newspaper Der Neue Tag in April 1919. The folding of the paper in 1920 as an effect of Vienna’s continuous economic and cultural decline after the end of the First World War prompted Roth, like many other Austrian authors and artists in the 1920s, to seek employment in the German capital. Berlin, where Roth lived between 1920 and 1925, represented modernity and dynamism after the war, labels that likely appealed to his journalistic instincts.1

By the time he began to convey a sense of life in Berlin for numerous influential metropolitan newspapers, Roth had already produced a ← 77 | 78 → substantial number of articles detailing the post-war world in Vienna. A brief evaluation of these writings in relation to his Berlin feuilletons reveals similarities in his urban observations. The dominant motif is the impact of the First World War on ordinary people whose lives had been irrevocably altered: former soldiers and casualties of war who returned to a society transformed and seemingly incapable of reintegrating them. The psychological and physical damage caused by the conflict, coupled with the subsequent political and social changes, were subjects Roth continued to explore during his time in Berlin. The presence of the homeless, the poor and the war-wounded in the...

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