Alexander Lernet-Holenia

Alexander Lernet-Holenia

The greatest novelist of the netherworlds, of darkness stretching on beyond death, Alexander Lernet-Holenia (1897–1976) was born into the aristocracy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. His many poems, plays, and novels are among the greatest works of modern German literature, and Count Luna is his masterpiece.

Baron Bagge

Fiction by Alexander Lernet-Holenia

Translated by Richard and Clara Winston

With a contribution by Patti Smith

A novel of love and valor, war and stupidity, life and death (as well as what may lay beyond our mortal coils), Baron Bagge concerns a young Austrian cavalry lieutenant in the Carpathian mountains at the beginning of WWI. The baron leads a desperate charge across a bridge to meet the Russian forces, following the orders of his mentally unstable commander: “We were soon to have proof of his unreliability… But perhaps it is not right to place the blame on him.…
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Count Luna

Translated from the German by Jane B. Greene 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.…
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A pupil of Rilke, admired by Borges, Lernet-Holenia has a literary reputation as a sort of continental necromancer, a conductor of the underworldly and oneiric, uprooting tangled lineages and raising the closeted skeletons of guilty nations.
—Trevor Quirk, Bookforum
Fog-of-war tales are always abundant, but this one conjures a unique spell. An unsettling tale of war trauma, cleanly and uniquely told.
Kirkus Reviews
Brilliant, extra stylish, excellently written and fearsomely gripping.
—The London Times
Brilliant…extra stylish.
The Times (UK)
Austrian writer Lernet-Holenia (Mona Lisa, 1897–1976) addresses guilt over WWII in this masterly novel, originally published in 1955….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.
Publishers Weekly (starred)
Dauntless panache, fast-moving, cleverly convoluted, terrific.
—Eileen Battersby, Irish Times on Lernet-Holenia’s I Was Jack Mortimer
In Count Luna, an industrialist inadvertently responsible for sending a man to a concentration camp feels certain that the fellow survived the war and is mounting a shadowy campaign of revenge. Like Kafka, whom he otherwise does not resemble, Lernet-Holenia weaves his most intimate hopes and dreams into the texture of what happens next with exquisitely imagined detail.
The Chicago Tribune
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