Binding: Paper Back
Book Condition: New
Publisher: Vintage September 2002
0375707425 / 9780375707421
Seller ID: 20090102151983
There's something delicious about a novel built around a single occurrence, a single conversation between two men separated for decades by war, geography and a betrayal. Embers never leaves the rooms of its setting, a dusty nobleman's estate in a mountainous backwater of the former Austro-Hungarian empire. The empire is dead, the men are awkwardly reunited, wine and delicacies are brought forth and the aging nobleman addresses his friend in a monologue that spans most of the book. It's an artificial conversation, a bold conceit. But the suspense is embedded with a light, skillful touch -- the nobleman's voice pained through its pretensions -- and we soon forgive the novel's biggest conceit of all: it's an extended discourse on moral relativism, cloaked in refinement and the ready metaphor of a nonexistent empire. What is an oath when the entity under which it was sworn is gone? Embers was written in Hungarian in 1942, translated into German half a century later and into English only recently. We recommend reading it straight through, preferably in front of a roaring fire.