The incomparable Joseph Roth imagines Emperor Napoleon's last grab at glory, the hundred days spanning his escape from Elba to his final defeat at Waterloo. This particularly poignant work, set in the first half of 1815 and largely in Paris, is told from two perspectives, that of Napoleon himself and that of the lowly, devoted palace laundress Angelica-an unlucky creature who deeply loves him. In The Hundred Days, Roth refracts the deep sorrow of their intertwined fates. Roth's signature lyrical elegance and haunting atmospheric details sing in The Hundred Days. There may be, as James Wood has stated, modern writer more able to combine the velistic and the poetic, to blend lusty, undamaged realism with sparkling powers of metaphor and simile.
Joseph Roth (1894-1939) was the great elegist of the cosmopolitan culture that flourished in the dying days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He published several books and articles before his untimely death at the age of 44. Roth's writing has been admired by J. M. Coetzee, Jeffrey Eugenides, Elie Wiesel, and Nadine Gordimer, among many others. Richard Panchyk has published twenty-three books, including translations of three Joseph Roth novels: The Antichrist, The Hundred Days, and Perlefter.