Searching for the Emperor

Roberto Pazzi, Author Alfred A. Knopf $17.95 (195p) ISBN 978-0-394-55998-8
With rare empathy, Italian poet and novelist Pazzi ( The Illness of Time ) gets inside the mind of Tsar Nicholas II in the tense days when the Imperial family was kept under house arrest by Red guards, awaiting execution. Nicholas reminisces about an old mistress, swings between hope and fear, curses the Bolsheviks; he declares that Russia's strength lies in the fact that it escaped the Enlightenment. Hundreds of miles away, Prince Alexander Ypsilanti, receiving news of the tsar's imprisonment, goads his ragtag regiment across frozen Siberian wastes to save their ruler. It's a futile quest punctuated by dreams and omensmigrating birds, a tiger huntthat symbolize the dying of Old Russia. This short, haunting novel, which marks Pazzi's American debut, is an elegant dirge, as crisply written as a moonlit night in the icy taiga. In portraying the distracted tsar, his overwrought wife, their embittered son Aleksei and their daughter Tatiana who communes with Rasputin's spirit, Pazzi poetically evokes a society on the brink of collapse. (November)
Reviewed on: 11/03/1988
Release date: 11/01/1988
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