Another rediscovered masterpiece from the Hungarian novelist whose Embers became an international bestseller—a sensuous, suspenseful, aphoristic novel about the world’s most notorious seducer and the encounter that changes him forever. In 1756 Giacomo Casanova escapes from a Venetian prison and resurfaces in the Italian village of Bolzano. Here he receives an unwelcome visitor: the aging but still fearsome Duke of Parma, who years before had defeated Casanova in a duel over a ravishing girl named Francesca and spared his life on condition that he never see her again. Now the duke has taken Francesca as his wife—and intercepted a love letter from her to his old rival. Rather than kill Casanova on the spot, he makes him a startling offer, one that is logical, perverse, and irresistible. Turning an historical episode into a dazzling fictional exploration of the clasp of desire and death, Casanova in Bolzano is further proof that Sándor Márai is one of the most distinctive voices of the twentieth century.
|Publisher:||Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group|
|Series:||Vintage International Series|
|Product dimensions:||5.23(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.68(d)|
About the Author
Sándor Márai was born in Kassa, in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, in 1900, and died in San Diego, California, in 1989. He rose to fame as one of the leading literary novelists in Hungary in the 1930s. Profoundly antifascist, he survived the war, but persecution by the Communists drove him from the country in 1948, first to Italy, then to the United States. His novel Embers was published for the first time in English in 2001.
Sándor Márai’s Embers is available in Vintage paperback.
Translated from the Hungarian by George Szirtes
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is a brilliant, oppressive imposition of a book, deserving of — on account of the uncompromising self-regard of both its hero and its voice — as few stars as the rules allow. Yet in the end I give it the full five; this after slipping repeated impulses to hurl my e-reader against a wall. The objectionable features are integral and uncountable — perhaps including some ineptness in George Szirtes’ translation from the original Hungarian, but how could I know? The virtues and the vices of this novel are self-consciously operatic. The themes, characters and situations are melodramatic and stagy. The narrative is as repetitious, florid and indifferent to dramatic pacing as if it were constructed of prima donna set pieces and da capo arias, every repeat taken. Protagonists appear cross-dressed and in masks. Weapons are brandished. Protestations of emotion high enough to be lethal are bruited repeatedly. But I came to the denouement weeping as helplessly as if lives of persons dear to me had been lost. The crux is the impossibility of love, however profound and elemental, thriving in a world rife with incident and conflict, as it has been since Adam and Eve were driven out of Eden. Giacomo Casanova, ill-shaped, narcissistic, faithless and a sociopath, is a strange avatar of the defining boon submerged in the human condition, but Márai makes him that, before he lets the great seducer revert to the exile that he will always occupy. It is unfathomably sad.