“The Queen’s Necklace” by Antal Szerb

A book from the 1940’s has been resurrected recently in the form of a paperback. I am the proud owner of a £12 paperback of Antal Szerb’s The Queen’s Necklace. It seems to be a popular title. There are at least three books on the topic with the same exact title: Frances Mossiker’s wonderful book, Szerb’s book (also nonfiction), and a dramatization of the events by Alexandre Dumas (he wrote a trilogy about Count Cagliostro).

This title isn’t out in the US yet, but will be in April 2010.

I guess I was lucky to come across it in the bookstore here in the UK. I actually found it in the fiction section, which is makes me roll my eyes. Sometimes there are some very funny mix-ups in bookshops when the people there don’t actually know what a book is about–fiction books going in “Mind, Body and Spirit” and so forth. This is not a work of fiction, it is a work of nonfiction.

I haven’t managed to read through it all yet. So far, what I’ve read hadn’t been earth-shattering. The style is a little more conversational than a modern reader is use to. Szerb more addresses us the reader. It is not chock-full of primary sources like Frances Mossiker’s book. In this way, it’s more traditional than Mossiker’s book. Of course I have

no idea what the originial Hungarian was like, but the translation seems to be well done.

The book was written in the 1942. Szerb was born in 1901 in Budapest. As he wrote this book, the Nazis were occupying Hungary. In 1945, Szerb was killed in a Nazi concentration camp. The story of the author does, in many ways, overshadow what he wrote. It’s a sad story. Szerb was a gifted and well-known writer. It shows just how indiscriminately destructive the Nazis were. What a terrible loss!

Buy it on amazon.co.uk.

Preorder on amazon.com.

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