Oliver VII (Paperback)
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Short Description for Oliver VII The King is bored, weighed down by his vast military cloak and all the other impediments to commonplace adventure. So he organises a coup against himself, and abandons his ancient throne. But what should one whose only experience is that of an absolute ruler do with himself? Why, become a con-man of course!
- Published: 01 October 2008
- Format: Paperback 208 pages
- ISBN 13: 9781901285796 ISBN 10: 1901285790
- Sales rank: 565,328
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Reviews for Oliver VII
A scintillating novella by a forgotten master
The Pushkin Press deserves congratulations for publishing its series of elegant,reasonably-priced books resurrecting forgotten masters of central European literature. None is more masterly than the Jewish Hungarian Antal Szerb, famous in the 1920s and 30s, murdered in the Second World War by Nazis and totally forgotten until recently.
This short novel - novella, really - is set partly in Venice but mostly in Alturia, a fictitious kingdom in Mitteleuropa, closer in spirit to Ruritania than Hungary. If the whole book does not quite live up to the scintillating wit of its opening, it makes a hugely enjoyable read. Like Joseph Roth, another great Jewish writer from the last days of Austro-Hungary, Szerb betrays a distinct nostalgia for the Habsburg monarchy. The Oliver VII of the title is a monarch who would rather not be king - until, that is, love persuades him otherwise. Unlike Roth's often mordant works, this is an effervescent comedy without a trace of bitterness, its levity recalling a Franz Lehar operetta. Such light-heartedness is remarkable for a work written in the depths of the Second World War, when the Jewish population was facing increasing persecution. (Szerb himself declined to escape to safety abroad.) by Nigel Rodgers