A riotous literary pastiche from the 1930s, in which a young Hungarian scholar confronts dark forces in a Welsh castle shrouded in mystery
“An absolute treat… Szerb is a master novelist, a comedian whose powers transcend time and language” Nicholas Lezard, Guardian
At an end-of-season London soirée a young Hungarian scholar, Dr János Bátky, 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, Bátky receives a mysterious phone call warning him not to go. Once there, nothing is quite as it seems…
Antal Szerb’s first novel is a gently satirical blend of gothic and romantic genres, crossed with a murder mystery to produce a fast-moving and often hilarious romp. But beneath the surface, Szerb’s steely intelligence poses disturbingly modern questions about the nature of self and reality.
Antal Szerb was born in Budapest in 1901. Though of Jewish descent, he was baptised at an early age and remained a lifelong Catholic. He rapidly established himself as a formidable scholar, through studies of Ibsen and Blake and histories of English, Hungarian and world literature. He was a prolific essayist and reviewer, ranging across all the major European languages. Debarred by successive Jewish laws from working in a university, he was subjected to increasing persecution, and finally murdered in a forced labour camp in 1945. Pushkin Press publishes his novels The Pendragon Legend, Oliver VII and his masterpiece Journey by Moonlight, as well as the historical study The Queen’s Necklace and Love in a Bottle and Other Stories.