Count Luna

  • by Alexander Lernet-Holenia
  • Narrated by Charlton Griffin
  • 5 hrs and 38 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Count Luna is the story of Alexander Jessiersky, an Austrian aristocrat who presides over a Viennese transport company. As World War II opens, Jessiersky, who detests the Nazis, is asked by his board of directors to acquiesce in the confiscation of a neighboring parcel of land in order to accommodate expanded war business. Jessiersky refuses to go along, but because of inattention or laziness his board carries out the land seizure behind his back. The owner, a certain Count Luna, is sent to a concentration camp on a trumped up charge. When Jessiersky discovers the deed, he is enraged. But his efforts to free Luna are in vain. Years later, at the end of the war, Jessiersky is convinced that Luna has survived his ordeal and is seeking vengeance. With one mysterious event succeeding another, Jessiersky begins to sink into an obsessive, murderous paranoia over Luna. It is an obsession that finally ends years later in the labyrinthine catacombs of Rome....Alexander Lernet-Holenia, (1895 - 1977), was born into the aristocracy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. A soldier himself, he watched that empire crumble to dust and closely observed its effects on Central Europe. His writings, which include a copious number of poems, plays, and novels, are among the greatest works in modern German literature. Count Luna is a masterpiece of psychological profiling and employs elements of romanticism, naturalism, expressionism, and magic realism.
The literary merit of Lernet-Holenia is secure in the line of masters like Dostoyevsky and Mann, and his work remains some of the most important of the 20th century. Count Luna is one of his greatest achievements. It is the spellbinding work of a master writer at the height of his power.


What the Critics Say

"As a writer, Alexander Lemet-Holenia combines the best of the classic tradition in literature with a surprisingly contemporary understanding of structure and language. Passages in Count Luna tracing lineage and metaphorical relationships are brilliant; Lemet-Holenia is truly, as the critic Hermann Bahr calls him, a 'goldsmith of words.'" (Independent Publisher)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Great literature, great narrator

I downloaded this on the strength of a previous Audio Connoisseur production. I'm glad I did. The power of this story is truly mesmerizing, as is the narration. If you like good literature, this is a must. I am not familiar with this author, but I'll definitely be looking for other material by him from now on. The story has a faintly romantic air to it, though it is certainly far from a romance. The philosophical discussion betwen Jessiersky and the two priests at the end of the book is truly extraordinary. If you're looking for something a cut above the superficial mysteries and crime books that abound these days, check this out. Magnificent writing and outstanding production values.
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- Theresa

An almost forgotten gem

"Der Graf Luna," published in 1955, is an almost forgotten gem. In this production, Charlton Griffin not only dusts it off but polishes it until it gleams.

The book opens with the protagonist, Alexander Jessiersky, an Austrian national visiting Rome, announcing he is going into the catacombs to search for two missing (and presumed dead) French priests. Why is he there, and what is he really looking for?

The protagonist is a man of his times in many ways. After the Anschluss and consequent invasion, Jessiersky is encouraged to buy the property of Count Luna. The count refuses to cooperate. This is not because he has any evident political opposition, but he is suspicious of the instability and value of the new currency. For his failure to submit, officials denounce Luna as a "monarchist sympathizer," brand him an enemy of the state, and send him to Mauthausen concentration camp.

Jessiersky, "though he himself had not done anything, had out of his inactivity failed to do what should have been done" and "allowed his subordinates to do as they chose." Deeply depressed over the realization that "the world is apparently ruled by misunderstanding," he attempts to find Luna and ease his misery by visiting his surviving relatives. Jessiersky's search for truth leads him into extraordinary situations and places, including the Roman catacombs.

Taken for itself, the story is a creative mystery with unusual characters. For that it's worth a listen. But looking deeper, one finds word play, metaphors, philosophy, poetic turns of phrase, and magical realism. Questions about personal responsibility and complicity, as well as the nature of reality itself, abound. The final scenes manage to be haunting, philosophical, chilling, and beautiful all at once.

I'd love to see English-language audible editions of the works by the many talented writers of the old Austro-Hungarian Empire: Lernet-Holenia, Stefan Zweig, Sándor Márai, Arthur Schnitzler, Joseph Roth, and more. All deserve a wider audience.

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- Die Falknerin "Painter, musician, bibliophile..."

Book Details

  • Release Date: 11-26-2003
  • Publisher: Audio Connoisseur