I've just had a bit of a finger-clicking, order combining, panic as I knew there was a book lurking in my consciousness that I had been waiting for and it's the new Antal Szerb in translation The Pendragon Legend.
I knew nothing about, in fact had never heard of Antal Szerb until Journey by Moonlight came my way from The Potsdam Reader last year and I was transfixed by this haunting book.There's something about some of these European writers in translation that just transmits a swathe of melancholy that you can't quite pin down, but you are left with the strangest sort of twilight feeling by the end.
I had a phase of reading them just for this unique mood.
Giorgio Bassani's The Garden of the Finzi-Contini's, that one haunts me still; the pre-war setting ensures that you read it with that certain knowledge of what is to follow and that compounds the effect. Mentioning Bassani reminds me that I still haven't read The Leopard by Guiseppe di Lampedusa, a book that the young Bassani rescued and edited.
Embers by Sandor Marai, now there's another haunting read and then there was The Artificial Silk Girl by Irmgard Keun.
Now Irmgard Keun needs a post of her own and if ever you were to buy a book just because you liked the look and feel of it (no, of course you wouldn't, only I'm that daft) then the paper and the cover of this edition from Other Press weds itself to you. Call me fickle.
I had just a few misgivings about the translation in places but it emerged as a read that resonated deeply in my attempt last year to read around and about the holocaust from every angle but the grimmest one. Others I know read it at my behest and disliked it and Hitler hated it enough to have it burnt, but at least you would have a lovely little book to stroke when you've finished, I'm probably the only one that does that too.
I see that absolutely no one but no one else has reviewed this book on Amazon since me in April 2005 and then only 4 out 4 people have found it helpful. A lesser know read it would seem or a duff review and I see I was raving about "the silky cover" back then too. In that case more about Doris and her exploits very soon.