This paper analyzes the ways in which literature and political theory react to the downfall of an empire. The aim is to show that Roth's novel Das falsche Gewicht, when analyzed wiThHerfried Münkler's theory of empire, proves to be a highly instructive literary representation of the contingency of literary orders as well as political ones. Between an imperial and a post- imperial situation lies the disintegration of an empire: a process enabling an acute observer—in this instance, Joseph Roth—to recognize the order of the imperial space as well as its borders. In his novels, RoThcaptures the logic of imperial domination wiThremarkable analytic precision. When one reads RoThwiTha view toward one of the central problems in scholarly as well as literary discourses on empire—the problem of center and periphery—it becomes obvious that boThliterature and political theory hinge upon the balance between them.