The Pendragon Legend by Antal Szerb, translated by Len Rix / ISBN 9781901285895 / 236-page paperback from Pushkin Press
(I read this 15 years and always think of it fondly - I hadn't expected it to be so pulpy!)
"An absolute treat, deliciously ludic, to be read with a big smile on your face throughout."—Nicholas Lezard, Guardian
"May Szerb's entry into our literary pantheon be definitive." - Alberto Manguel
At the end-of-London-season soiree, the young Hungarian scholar-dilettante Janos Batky is introduced to the Earl of Gwynedd, a reclusive eccentric who is the subject of strange rumours. Invited to the family seat, Pendragon Castle in North Wales, Batky receives a mysterious phone-call warning him not to go. But he does, and finds himself in a bizarre world of mysticism and romance, animal experimentation, and planned murder. His quest to solve the central mystery takes him down strange byways-old libraries and warehouse cellars, Welsh mountains and underground tombs.
"Szerb was fluent in German and English and greatly interested in unusual religious beliefs. His knowledge of Rosicrucianism and the occult informs this often very funny book, which takes many affectionate potshots at the period's popular fiction. Szerb, who produced a history of English literature, knew his Shakespeare, Blake and Milton, but also the frothier writings of John Buchan, Edgar Wallace and P G Wodehouse." - Paul Bailey, Independent