The New York Review of Books (December 22, 2011) has an essay by Michael Hofmann about Joseph Roth that will serve as the introduction to Hofmann's translation of Roth's letters. Here a passage that puts the end of the world in its place:
I am not in a tizzy about the letter from. . . . In view of the approaching end of the world, it's no big deal. But even then, in the trenches, staring death in the face 10 minutes before going over the top, I was capable of beating up a sonofabitch for claiming he was out of cigarettes when he wasn't, for instance. The end of the world is one thing, the sonofabitch is another. You can't put the sonofabitch down to the general condition of things. He's separate.