Alexander Lernet-Holenia, (1895 - 1977), was born into the aristocracy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. A soldier himself, he watched that empire crumble to dust and closely observed its effects on Central Europe. His writings, which include a copious number of poems, plays, and novels, are among the greatest works in modern German literature. Count Luna is a masterpiece of psychological profiling and employs elements of romanticism, naturalism, expressionism, and magic realism.
The literary merit of Lernet-Holenia is secure in the line of masters like Dostoyevsky and Mann, and his work remains some of the most important of the 20th century. Count Luna is one of his greatest achievements. It is the spellbinding work of a master writer at the height of his power.
"As a writer, Alexander Lemet-Holenia combines the best of the classic tradition in literature with a surprisingly contemporary understanding of structure and language. Passages in Count Luna tracing lineage and metaphorical relationships are brilliant; Lemet-Holenia is truly, as the critic Hermann Bahr calls him, a 'goldsmith of words.'" (Independent Publisher)
I downloaded this on the strength of a previous Audio Connoisseur production. I'm glad I did. The power of this story is truly mesmerizing, as is the narration. If you like good literature, this is a must. I am not familiar with this author, but I'll definitely be looking for other material by him from now on. The story has a faintly romantic air to it, though it is certainly far from a romance. The philosophical discussion betwen Jessiersky and the two priests at the end of the book is truly extraordinary. If you're looking for something a cut above the superficial mysteries and crime books that abound these days, check this out. Magnificent writing and outstanding production values.
8 of 8 people found this review helpful
"Der Graf Luna," published in 1955, is an almost forgotten gem. In this production, Charlton Griffin not only dusts it off but polishes it until it gleams.
The book opens with the protagonist, Alexander Jessiersky, an Austrian national visiting Rome, announcing he is going into the catacombs to search for two missing (and presumed dead) French priests. Why is he there, and what is he really looking for?
The protagonist is a man of his times in many ways. After the Anschluss and consequent invasion, Jessiersky is encouraged to buy the property of Count Luna. The count refuses to cooperate. This is not because he has any evident political opposition, but he is suspicious of the instability and value of the new currency. For his failure to submit, officials denounce Luna as a "monarchist sympathizer," brand him an enemy of the state, and send him to Mauthausen concentration camp.
Jessiersky, "though he himself had not done anything, had out of his inactivity failed to do what should have been done" and "allowed his subordinates to do as they chose." Deeply depressed over the realization that "the world is apparently ruled by misunderstanding," he attempts to find Luna and ease his misery by visiting his surviving relatives. Jessiersky's search for truth leads him into extraordinary situations and places, including the Roman catacombs.
Taken for itself, the story is a creative mystery with unusual characters. For that it's worth a listen. But looking deeper, one finds word play, metaphors, philosophy, poetic turns of phrase, and magical realism. Questions about personal responsibility and complicity, as well as the nature of reality itself, abound. The final scenes manage to be haunting, philosophical, chilling, and beautiful all at once.
I'd love to see English-language audible editions of the works by the many talented writers of the old Austro-Hungarian Empire: Lernet-Holenia, Stefan Zweig, Sándor Márai, Arthur Schnitzler, Joseph Roth, and more. All deserve a wider audience.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
A Kafka-esque black comedy, Count Luna is a tale of a man allowing his paranoia to spin out of control, with fatal consequences to a number of innocent bystanders and ultimately to himself. Lernet-Holenia treats his hero with an ice cold ruthlessness that just makes the bitterness of his situation all the more comic. Jessiersky's fate is as bleak and savagely funny as that of Tony Last in Waugh's Decline and Fall. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
This is high class literature, a story so intelligent & different, written in such a fascinating & elegant style that is impossible to come across in modern day literature. This author was a true genius.
3 of 4 people found this review helpful
I am embarrassed to say this but this book bored me to tears. The story itself would be promising but it was written in such a way that nothing was truly explained except the boring and the irrelevant while the interesting parts were glossed over to leave it to the listener to fill in the blanks. Some parts were repeated and described in painstaking detail although they did not seem to hold any relevance to the story. What bothered me most, though, is the cold, almost clinical description of events by the author and the monotone narration. I know that this book is supposed to be a literary masterpiece with good reviews here and on Amazon, but I could not stay with the story (I tried) and did not finish the book. I recommend the Kite Runner instead for a truly enjoyable literary experience.
3 of 8 people found this review helpful