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The Pendragon Legend [Paperback]

Antal Szerb , Len Rix


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Paperback, March 1 2006 --  
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Book Description

March 1 2006
At an end-of-London-season soirée, the young Hungarian scholar-dilettante Janos Bátky is introduced to the Earl of Gwynedd, a reclusive eccentric who is the subject of strange rumors. Invited to the family seat—Pendragon Castle in North Wales—Bátky receives a mysterious phone call warning him not to go; but he does and finds himself in a bizarre world of mysticism and romance, animal experimentation, and planned murder. His quest to solve the central mystery takes him down strange byways—old libraries and warehouse cellars, Welsh mountains, and underground tombs.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Pushkin Press; 1 edition (March 1 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 190128560X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1901285604
  • Product Dimensions: 16.6 x 12 x 2.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 340 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,305,410 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"A detective story, gothic novel, and social satire . . . written with great wit and a lightness of touch, The Pendragon Legend is deliberately absurd: an eccentric aristocrat working in a secret lab, a midnight rider seeking vengeance, and a woman so beautiful she leads men to suicide are just some of the elements thrown into this delightful novel."  —Telegraph


"A writer of immense subtlety and generosity, with an uncommonly light touch which masks its own artistry. His novels transform farce into poetry, comic melancholy into a kind of self-effacing grace. Can literary mastery be this quiet-seeming, this hilarious, this kind? Antal Szerb is one of the great European writers."  —Ali Smith, author, The Accidental

About the Author

Antal Szerb (1901–1945) was an essayist, novelist, playwright, and a formidable scholar whose books include History of Hungarian Literature, Journey by Moonlight, Oliver VII, and The Queen's Necklace. He was twice awarded the Baumgarten Prize, and in 1933 he was elected president of the Hungarian Literary Academy. Len Rix also translated Journey by Moonlight and Oliver VII.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gothic mystery with tones of occult and comedy May 15 2008
By Mikko Saari - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The Pendragon Legend is an Hungarian novel from 1930s, but the story isn't particularly Hungarian. A Hungarian researcher and bibliophile János Bátky is introduced to the Earl of Pendragon and is invited to study the books in his exquisite library. Bátky soon learns that getting involved with the Pendragons can be dangerous: he is threatened by mysterious forces and many strange events happen at the Pendragon manor. Antihero Bátky is an outsider who gets drawn into quite a mess.

The story is a strange mixture of gothic horror story and light comedy. The Earl Pendragon is a gloomy old gentleman and the history of the family features legendary characters. Rosicrucianism plays an important role in the story. The Finnish publisher advertises the book as Da Vinci Code published 60 years before Dan Brown's novel. This is advertising, of course, but the books belong in the same genre.

The Pendragon Legend is a charming story. It's not high literature, but the plot is clever, Bátky is a lovely lead character and the story has a good vibe to it. I also enjoyed the old-fashioned atmosphere of the 1930's England, and the translator did a good job capturing that in the language used. The Pendragon Legend is a tasty mystery with flavours of horror and occult. (Review based on the Finnish translation.)
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Novel That Combines Wit And Adventure May 21 2013
By James-D-Online - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
I won't spoil the story by revealing any of the plot, but this engaging comic Gothic novel set in London and Wales is one of the finest satirical novels I have read in a very long time. You'd never guess it was written in 1934 in Hungarian and translated into English by a Zimbabwean-born English teacher who lived and worked at Manchester Grammar School. The story begins in the Reading Room of the British Museum, where the narrator, Janos Batky is researching Rosicrucianism and the occult. The author, although Hungarian was a complete Anglophile, who knew his Milton and Shakespeare, as well as John Buchan and Edgar Wallace. There are traces of all four in The Pendragon Legend, plus lashings of PG Wodehouse-worthy wit.

When he arrives at Pendragon Castle in Wales, Janos is embroiled in intrigue and Gothic horror, including a mysterious horseman that disturbs his sleep as much as the things that go bump in the night. That's as far as I'll go with the story: let it surprise you for maximum effect. There are some fantastic characters and situations to be found in this epic tale and I heartily recommend it to anyone interested in life, laughter and/ or horror. The genuine tragedy is that the author died in a Nazi death camp.
5.0 out of 5 stars "I believe in the resurrection of the body" June 8 2014
By TermiteWriter - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The Pendragon family has always been involved in the occult and this is what draws János Bátky, a young dilettante scholar who is studying 16th-18th century alchemy and Rosicrucianism. It’s said that one of the earlier Earls of Gwynedd has risen from the dead, and the current Earl is studying the process of death and resurrection. When Bátky gets an invitation to visit Llanvygan, the seat of the Pendragons, he jumps at the chance and then finds himself entangled in a murder mystery and in occult rituals that almost cost him his life.
In fact, the book is a gentle but insightful satire on the mores of the 1920s and l930s, spoofing the British, the Welsh, the Irish, Europeans in general, and especially the British class system. It can be characterized as a gothic fantasy detective story. This veneer of civilization overlays the dark symbolism of the primeval Welsh forest and the even darker workings of those immersed in occult practices. What really happened in that strange hut in the woods? People died, we know, but who was the perpetrator? Readers must decide for themselves.
Recommended for those who like literary fiction and want to do some chuckling in the process.
3.0 out of 5 stars a good premise, but uneven delivery... April 13 2014
By K. Kennedy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
"The Pendragon Legend" by Antal Szerb is an uneven gothic story set in Wales after World War One. It includes the usual spooky castle, mysterious characters, and ancient secrets, but with a modern twist of somewhat witty comments by the main character (Batky). It is an interesting premise, but it is inconsistent and the plot drags in places.

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