A Paperback edition by Antal Szerb in English, Hungarian and Spanish (Jul 28, 2007)
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The restless ruler of an obscure Central European state plots a coup against himself and escapes to Venice in search of "real" experience. There he falls in with a team of con-men... Read more
The restless ruler of an obscure Central European state plots a coup against himself and escapes to Venice in search of "real" experience. There he falls in with a team of con-men and ends up, to his own surprise, impersonating himself. His journey through successive levels of illusion and reality teaches him much about the world, his own nature, and the paradoxes of the human condition.
Antal Szerb was born in 1901 into a cultivated Budapest family of Jewish descent. Graduating in German and English, he rapidly established himself as a prolific scholar, publishing books on drama and poetry, studies of Ibsen and Blake, and histories of English, Hungarian, and world literature. His first novel, The Pendragon Legend, 1934, is set in London and Wales. He is also the author of Journey by Moonlight, The Queen's Necklace, Oliver VII and various volumes of novellas. He died in the forced-labour camp at Balf in January 1945.
Emerence is a domestic servant - strong, fierce, eccentric, and with a reputation for being a first-rate housekeeper. But Emerence has secrets and vulnerabilities beneath her indomitable exterior which will test Magda's friendship and change the complexion of both their lives irreversibly.
Anxious to please his father, Mihaly has joined the family firm in Budapest. Pursued by nostalgia for his bohemian youth, he seeks escape in marriage to Erzsi, not realising that she has chosen him as a means to her own rebellion. On their honeymoon in Italy, Mihaly 'loses' his bride at a provincial station and embarks on a chaotic journey.
At an end-of-the London season soiree, the young Hungarian scholar-dilettante Janos Batky is introduced to the Earl of Gwynedd, a reclusive eccentric who is the subject of strange rumours. Invited to the family seat, Pendragon Castle in North Wales, Batky receives a mysterious phone-call warning him not to go.
A young writer, struggling for success, employs an elderly woman called Emerence to be her housekeeper. Only a great drama in the writer's life prompts Emerence to unveil glimpses of her traumatic past - a past which sheds light on her peculiar behaviour.
When Mihaly finally succeeds in seducing Erzsi away from her first husband, he confidently takes her on honeymoon to Italy. Within days of their arrival, things start to fall apart. Embarking on a chaotic and bizarre journey around Italy, the death-haunted and erotic elements of his past converge, and he, like Erzsi, has to choose his own fate.
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