The Swedish Cavalier

Leo Perutz, Author Arcade Publishing $19.95 (181p) ISBN 978-1-55970-170-9
Written in the style of an 18th-century adventure, Perutz's leisurely tale of switched identities and reversals of fortune concerns a nameless thief fleeing the gallows who crosses paths in 1701 with a noble-born deserter from the Swedish army. The brazen thief betrays the nobleman, Christian von Tornefeld, by assuming his identity while on an errand, then taking over his cousin's manorial estate in Silesia and marrying his young, adoring fiancee Maria, who believes that the imposter is von Tornefeld. Meanwhile, Christian takes the thief's promised job, enduring nine hellish years as a foundry worker. Moments of high drama and broad comedy enliven the tale, which takes a number of twists before the two men meet on the road years later to exchange identities once again, a move that proves fatal for both. Prague-born novelist Perutz ( Little Apple ), who fled the Nazis to Palestine and died in 1957, spins an allegory that implicitly asks: If God is just, why do evil and injustice flourish? Brownjohn's deft translation captures a rough-and-tumble milieu saturated with superstitions, spells and folk customs. (July)
Reviewed on: 06/28/1993
Release date: 07/01/1993
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 181 pages - 978-1-61145-885-5
Open Ebook - 192 pages - 978-1-62872-506-3
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