First published in 1953, this magical historical novel ostensibly describes the series of events which led to Bohemia's defeat by Austria at the Battle of the White Mountain, in the 16th century. But the Czech emigre author was probably inspired by the events of the Holocaust, so expertly does he re-create the uneasy alliances of Prague's Jewish and Catholic communities. While riding in the woods, Emperor Rudolf II, King of Bohemia and Holy Roman Emperor, comes upon two men counting money destined for a member of the "persecuted race", Mordechai Meisl. The Emperor demands a taler for himself, but the coin causes him only misfortune and, by a series of mysterious coincidences, ends up in Meisl's hands. Thus begins the long, secret, and often tragic association between the two. Rudolf II, corrupt, weak and spendthrift, needs Meisl's money-making talents to finance his extravagances, while Meisl can prosper only under Rudolf's protection. By novel's end it's clear they are in reality enemies. Perutz lets his imagination soar, abandoning the excessive caution he often shows elsewhere. The risks pay off in this finest of his works now in translation.
Leo Perutz's episodic novel centers around the illicit love between emperor Rudolf II and Esther, the wife of a Jewish financier, in 16th-century Prague. Though structured as a series of stand-alone stories, it builds momentum as the various plots become increasingly connected in a captivating tale of love, money, greed, and political and religious drama. Simon Brooks performs with a moody distinction, perfectly capturing the atmospheric intrigue of this Austrian tale with his elegant, nuanced voice work. By Night Under the Stone Bridge explores the complicated relationship between Jews and Christians in Europe to craft a bold historical fable.
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Mystical, Magical 16th Century Austrian Folk Tale
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