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Despite the subtitle, this first English-language publication by Klima (1878-1928), a noted Czech philosopher, has little to offer readers of Stephen King. It is more screed than story, ostensibly the tale of a mad German prince who marries a completely appalling woman, who murders her father and infant before trysting with a filthy peasant who flogs her bloody while enduring her windy rants about her own abused, abusive and completely anti-social upbringing. Thus stimulated, the prince's "romance" continues well after his wife's apparent death. There's much of the whip in all this, a great fascination with all things perverse, but nothing that makes any of the characters more than bizarre caricatures. Much scabrous wit and the hallucinatory nature of events leave the reader uncertain about taking anything seriously. Appended is the author's autobiography, in which he turns out to be as pathological as any of his characters, a genuine transgressive in the manner of de Sade. Either our legs are being pulled, or this a fine example of the Ambrose Bierce dictum that the philosopher specializes in giving advice to people who are happier than he is.
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A dark, diverting entertainment, certainly out of the ordinary ... [Klíma] was a decidedly odd bloke, a real character ... and he could write. -- The Complete Review, April, 2001
Given the power of Carleton Bulkins excellent translation ... The Sufferings of Prince Sternenhoch runs with gale-force intensity and speed. -- Tom Bowden, The Education Digest, January 2002
Klíma's tale reads like a book that Edgar Allan Poe might have written if he'd read Nietzsche ... -- Washington City Paper, April 13, 2001
The non-conformist work of Ladislav Klíma has almost always shocked, has often incited scandal, but has hardly ever left us indifferent. -- Vaclav Havel --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.