The Marquis of Bolibar

Leo Perutz, Author Arcade Publishing $17.95 (182p) ISBN 978-1-55970-015-3
This 1960 novel by the late Czech emigre writer purports to be the memoirs of Eduard von Jochberg, the sole survivor of a bloody massacre in 1812, during the Peninsular War. Von Jochberg is garrisoned with a German unit of Napoleon's army in a small Spanish town when it is discovered that a local nobleman, the Marquis of Bolibar, is aiding the Spanish insurgents. Bolibar, who has disguised himself and disappeared, plans to send three signals to the Spanish rebels which will lead to an uprising of the supposedly docile townsfolk. Later, von Jochberg and three friends are overheard by Perico, a ragged Spanish muleteer, drunkenly boasting of their sexual conquest of their colonel's late wife. Von Jochberg orders the Spaniard executed so he will not reveal their indiscretions, but before dying, Perico (whom von Jochberg comes to believe is the Marquis of Bolibar in disguise) makes the four young hotheads promise to honor his last wishes, which ``God'' will reveal to them. The four officers, intentionally or not, bring about the destruction of their garrison by sending all three of the Marquis's prearranged signals to the insurgents. As in Leonardo's Judas , Perutz is fascinated by the psychological motivation of evil. While the somewhat mannered style of this novel may at first seem deliberately obscure, readers will enjoy Perutz's elegant prose, dry wit and heightened sense of the fantastic. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1989
Release date: 01/01/1989
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