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Master of the Day of Judgement [Paperback]

Leo Peutz , Leo Perutz , Eric Mosbacher

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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Arcade Publishing; Reprint edition (15 Aug 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1559703342
  • ISBN-13: 978-1559703345
  • Product Dimensions: 20.1 x 13.2 x 1.3 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,025,894 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars the guilty truth 15 Oct 2012
By monica - Published on Amazon.com
This is a remarkable little book. I read it several days ago and haven't quite been able to shake it off.

Do ignore the book description on the main page, which is fatuous nonsense apparently written by a backward 14-year-old. In the real book a famous actor, after recounting for his guests a tale of two inexplicable suicides, goes to his garden pavilion and shoots himself. One of those guests is Baron von Yosch, who soon is accused of imparting information that led to the act. The Baron, who narrates the story, feels overwhelmed by guilt, and when his word of honour is seemingly proved a sham he himself considers suicide. This is Vienna in 1909: an officer and a gentleman knew the honourable way out. Much of the book tells of his and his friends' attempt to solve the mystery of a string of suicides that have common factors. Eventually they do so.

The book is well-written and well-constructed. So many scenes and details are striking and linger in the memory: the connoisseur money-lender, the inane conversation about music, the villain too fat to stir from his home, the Baron's hallucination and his enigmatic saviour.

It's also a provocative book, in a way a study of the psychology of guilt: of why and when we acknowledge guilt--truly or falsely--or deny it or simply confabulate. For me it also raised questions about credulity and story-telling; despite Perutz's indirect but clear warnings, I found myself readily believing in the fantastic elements of the story and reluctant to credit what was (almost certainly) the underlying truth of it. A very good book indeed.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterpiece 15 Dec 2002
By Xavier Lechard - Published on Amazon.com
1909. Strange suicide plague in Vienna. Why do all these people kill themselves, while they have no reason at all to do so? Wouldn't be something - or somebody - else? Warning to impossible crime fans: one of the so-called "suicides" is a locked room.
While he - remarkably - uses Golden Age school's apparatus, Perutz gives here a book that is wholly sui generis. It could be a mystery. It could be weird. It could be both. Mystery fans will be delighted by intricate plotting, virtuoso use of multiple solutions and a totally unexpected ending. They'll also be delighted, along with others, by magistral recreation of a vanished world, quirky atmosphere and characters, and a reflection on time, art and reality. Yet in the end, the book's real nature remains a mystery. There's only one thing to know: it's a masterpiece.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Novel from the KEW List 1 Dec 2011
By TimothyMayer - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
The Master of the Day of Judgment is told from the point of view of Baron Yosch, a military officer in the Kaiser's army. Although the events taking place in the book occur over a few days in 1909, the book supposedly comes from a manuscript found in the baron's personal papers after he went missing during WW1. As such, it is a "found" novel, a style not very popular these days. The edition I'm reviewing is the 1930 Hedwig Singer translation.
At the beginning of the book, we are introduced to the baron's circle of friends: the actor Eugene Bischoff, the physician Dr. Edward von Gorsky, and Engineer Waldemar Solgrub. A married couple, Felix and Dina (Bischoff's sister) also figure into the novel. Most of the action takes place in the same city, which appears to be Prague.
Structured as a murder mystery, Master is concerned with a rash on unexplainable suicides which have occurred over the past few weeks. The key death happens in the first fifty pages when the actor Bischoff kills himself with a pistol in a closed room. No one can figure out why he did it. The baron suddenly finds himself accused by everyone as he had been too close to Bischoff's sister Dina. The actor had also lost a large sum of money in a bank crash and the baron is accused of confronting him with this information.
Baron Yosch plays the part of a dandy through the book. He's a military officer, but has never seen combat. He's more interested in playing Beethoven on the piano than any martial activity. When the baron suddenly finds himself at the center of a murder investigation, he decides to retire to a country estate he's not visited in years. We're constantly given detailed events of trivial matters he remembers from the event.
As more suicides occur, the remaining witnesses to the death of Bischoff become convinced some evil entity is at work. Eventually they trace the source down to one location. To tell more about it would give away the ending of the book. I will say it is quite a surprise, and worth the read.
Master of the Day of Judgement is an excellent book and can be read very quickly. I'm sure the translator added much to the flavor of it.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The other austrian insurance novelist 18 Dec 2000
By L. Wagner - Published on Amazon.com
This novel is an entertaining mystery (suicide or murder?), a haunting meditation on history and fate, and a playful self-referential narrative a la Borges or Calvino.
In fact, Borges liked Perutz's work well enough to promote its publication in Argentina while Perutz was living in Tel Aviv and was banned from publishing in Germany.
Like his coeval Kafka, Perutz also wrote fiction while working in insurance (though LP was an actuary in Vienna and Trieste, unlike FK, who worked in Prague, LP's birthplace).
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