By Night Under the Stone Bridge

Leo Perutz, Author Arcade Publishing $17.95 (198p) ISBN 978-1-55970-055-9
First published in 1953, this magical historical novel ostensibly describes the series of events which led to Bohemia's defeat by Austria at the Battle of the White Mountain in the 16th century. But the Czech emigre author ( Leonardo's Judas ) was probably inspired by the events of the Holocaust, so expertly does he re-create the uneasy alliances of Prague's Jewish and Catholic communities. While riding in the woods, Emperor Rudolf II, King of Bohemia and Holy Roman Emperor, comes upon two men counting money destined for a member of the ``persecuted race,'' Mordechai Meisl. The Emperor demands a taler for himself, but the coin causes him only misfortune and, by a series of mysterious coincidences, ends up in Meisl's hands. Thus begins the long, secret and often tragic association between the two. Rudolf II, corrupt, weak and spendthrift, needs Meisl's money-making talents to finance his extravagances, while Meisl can prosper only under Rudolf's protection. By novel's end it's clear they are in reality enemies. Perutz lets his imagination soar, abandoning the excessive caution he often shows elsewhere. The risks pay off in this finest of his works now in translation. (May)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1990
Release date: 01/01/1990
Paperback - 198 pages - 978-1-61145-841-1
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