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. Perhaps his foolishness was merely the instrument of fate, and the disaster into which he led his squadron, the slaughter of so many men and horses, took place in order that something which could no longer happen within the realm of the living—because it was too late—could happen after life.” And, swaying in a kind of fugue, the baron wanders off the bridge into unknown realms, where—mesmerized by Lernet-Holenia’s phosphorescent style—the reader joins his waking dream.