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Beschreibung des Verlags
At once a chase novel, black comedy, and softly keening death song, Count Luna starts off at a gallop and accelerates into warp speed
At the start of WWII, Alexander Jessiersky, an Austrian aristocrat, heads a great Viennese shipping company. He detests the Nazis, and when his board of directors asks him to go along with confiscating a neighbor’s large parcel of land for their thriving wartime business, Jessiersky refuses. Yet, without his knowledge, the board succeeds in sending the owner of the land, a certain Count Luna, to a Nazi concentration camp on a trumped-up charge.
Years later the war is over, but after a series of mysterious events, Jessiersky, deeply paranoid, becomes convinced that Count Luna has survived and seeks vengeance; driven to kill the source of his dread, he decides to hunt down Luna—and his years-long chase after the spectral count finally takes him deep into the catacombs of Rome…
The nightmare logic of Count Luna comes from deep within Jessiersky’s festering fears and serves up his brooding, insanity-spiced, delicious disquisitions—on what the Etruscans knew, on cemeteries as originally “sleeping places”—before coming at last to death itself: “Well, well, well, thought Jessiersky, swallowing hard. So you do die after all. You refuse to believe that someday you will die but then you die. And you don’t even notice it. And yet the fact that you don’t is the best thing about dying...”
Austrian writer Lernet-Holenia (Mona Lisa, 1897 1976) addresses guilt over WWII in this masterly novel, originally published in 1955. Nearly a decade after the war, Alexander Jessiersky, the head of an Austrian transport business, travels to Rome, enters the catacomb beneath a church, and disappears. Lernet-Holenia then rewinds to the beginning of Jessiersky's fateful journey. WWII has erupted, and his company's board of directors encourages anti-Nazi Jessiersky to purchase a parcel of railroad-adjacent property from the reluctant Count Luna, an aristocratic heir. Jessiersky refuses, and the board, determined to satisfy wartime demand, has Luna shipped to a concentration camp for alleged anti-Germanness. Jessiersky sends care packages to Luna, and by war's end, Luna is assumed dead. Years later, Jessiersky's children claim to have seen Luna alive, and after one falls mysteriously ill, Jessiersky convinces himself Luna has survived the war and is out for revenge. While waiting for Luna to resurface, he retreats into his library to read about Luna's family. A series of strange happenings, such as the sound of footsteps in the attic, stoke Jessiersky's paranoia, and he goes on a disastrously quixotic offensive before going into hiding. Lernet-Holenia's dark humor propels the narrative, and Jessiersky's obsession is expertly handled, leading to a wholly unexpected conclusion. Driven by intense psychological descriptions, this tale of inaction against injustice has aged quite well.