The Hunt

Tamas Aczel, Author Little Brown and Company $19.95 (422p) ISBN 978-0-316-00896-9
Aczel's ( Illuminations ) allegorical novel about Hungarian politics during the 1950s is set in an ancient country estate, now a retreat for the Communist elite. Against this stagy backdrop, Aczel develops a drama of corruption and betrayal. Two Party apparatchiks, the general Wulf and justice Krolthy, nervously awaiting Singer, the prime minister, explore the grounds of the estate, waxing lyrical about the former owners, a prominent, aristocratic family. Monsignor Beck, a priest whose tacit cooperation with the regime has divided the country's clergy, joins them, as does Singer. All four men, explicitly or not, were responsible for the show trial and execution of a former Communist minister, Ladislas Jarek. The country's intellectuals are rapidly turning Jarek into a martyr and Singer, faced with the possibility of a revolt, now urges Wulf, Krolthy and Beck to help ensure that Jarek's reputation is rehabilitated and his body properly buried in a public ceremony. This turn of events--history's way of playing a joke--has an electrifying effect on the men, and the novel, mirroring their turbulent feelings, becomes increasingly surrealistic. This is a brooding, powerful work despite Aczel's often pedantic prose and confusing use of flashbacks. (June)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1991
Release date: 01/01/1991
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