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The Pendragon Legend (Seria z Jamnikiem)

3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  792 ratings  ·  64 reviews
At an 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 rumors. 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 ro ...more
Paperback, 313 pages
Published June 30th 2006 by Pushkin Press (first published 1934)
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Greatest Eastern European Classics
116th out of 270 books — 134 voters
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20th Century Hungarian Literature
47th out of 123 books — 105 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,327)
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Lorenzo Berardi
'Tell me,' he asked, with some embarassment, as we strolled along: 'you're a bloody German, aren't you?'
'Oh, no. I'm Hungarian.'
'Hungarian?'
'Hungarian.'
'What's that? Is that a country? Or you are just having me on?
'Not at all. On my word of honour, it is a country.'
'And where do you Hungarians live?'
'In Hungary. Between Austria, Romania, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia'.
'Come off it. Those places were made up by Shakespeare.'
And he roared with laughter.

(from The Pendragon Legend, page 31)

I lived
...more
Antonomasia
Dec 29, 2014 Antonomasia rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Wodehouse, Mitford, Golden Age mysteries, the occult & ghostly
Recommended to Antonomasia by: Several book bloggers; Nicholas Lezard
"So my Lord is also a student of the subject?"
"That's a rather strong term to use, in this island of ours.
You study something, we merely have hobbies. I dabble in the English mystics the way a retired general would set about exploring his family history. As it happens, those things are part of the family history."...

He seemed to embody a historical past the way no book ever could. My intuition told me that here was the last living example - and an exceptional one at that - of the genuine stude
...more
Jon
I read this one inspired by Jenni's comments--and I liked it in very much the same way she did. It's not quite like anything else I've ever read. As I look over the Goodreads reviews, I see Szerb reminding people of many other authors, depending on whom they've liked--for me he seemed like P.G. Wodehouse, John Dickson Carr, and Umberto Eco. With maybe a little Nabokov. It's a whimsical, affectionate send-up of British mores between the wars (post-modern irony before that had been invented) and a ...more
Chris
Szerb's novel is a curious hybrid, a mix of murder mystery and ghost story, romantic comedy and Gothic chiller, social commentary and humour. While the whole is never more than the sum of its parts (the resolution, for example, doesn't convincingly meld these disparate genres) this is still an impressive first novel, self-assured and wittily expressed.

According to the very helpful Afterword, Antal Szerb was a polyglot academic who diverted some of his scholarly interests, along with other more u
...more
Alex Sarll
A delightfully ridiculous country house burlesque of early 20th century occult thrillers. Szerb was on my vague list of authors to investigate at some point, but a friend's review made clear that this was definitely the first of his books I should read - and just to seal the deal, she then kindly sent me her copy. I can say little that she hasn't already covered, except to quibble with the Simon Raven comparison she quotes; at their most devious, the characters here still have a childlike charm ...more
Lorinda Taylor
The Pendragon family has always been involved in the occult and this is what draws János Bátky, a young dilettante scholar who is studying 16th-18th century alchemy and Rosicrucianism. It’s said that one of the earlier Earls of Gwynedd has risen from the dead, and the current Earl is studying the process of death and resurrection. When Bátky gets an invitation to visit Llanvygan, the seat of the Pendragons, he jumps at the chance and then finds himself entangled in a murder mystery and in occult ...more
Reinhold
Der Philosoph und Globetrotter Dr. János Bátky wird von einem walisischen Aristokraten dem Earl of Gwynedd eingeladen, ihn in seinem Schloss zu besuchen um in seiner Bibliothek seine Studien fortzusetzen. Was der Icherzähler der Geschichte noch nicht weiß, damit wird er mitten in einen Erbschaftsstreit gerissen. Die eine Seite trachtet dem Adligen nach dem Leben - der verhinderte Mörder wird aber noch in derselben unter den seltsamsten Umständen getötet. Neben diesem Handlungsstrang beginnt glei ...more
Shadazz
Oct 09, 2011 Shadazz rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who enjoy Borge's short stories
Shelves: 2011, bookcrossing
At the same time I read this book I was engaged with Yates study about The Occult Philosophy in the Elizabethan Age, thus reading a book which made constant references to Fludd, and the Rosicrucians (to whom Yates devotes one chapter). I had already noticed that this whole Occult philosophy was related to some of Borges' short stories too. The pendragon legend has for me some similarities with Borges' stories in the mockery of the academic lifestyle, of certain stereotypes and of the detectivesq ...more
Chozo Tull
Great novel, full of invisible energy, weaving pulpish library researches, shakespearian references and over-the-top gothic comedy in a high-octane narrative always offset by the scholarly aspect of the main character. Deeper than one may think at first. The humor is written in an almost sheepish way which I found quite unique, and the climax demonstrates the full scope of Szerb's talent.
Kirsty Cabot
I haven't ever read anything like this book. And to be honest one of the reasons I picked it up was because it looked gorgeous. I mean physically. Smaller than a "standard" book, a ribbed thick front cover, with a lovely simple illustration on it, decent quality smooth thick paper, clear typeface. I really did judge this book by it's cover. I was certainly rewarded!

Written by a Hungarian, translated into English, about a Hungarian scholar who is in Wales. A strange setting. Gothic, dry, mystery,
...more
Kathrina
I would never intentionally use the word "romp" in a review, but this book calls for it, as several other reviewers have discovered, as well. A gothic-romantic, mysterious, supernatural, thoroughly British romp written by a self-mocking, clever, witty Catholic Hungarian with Jewish ethnicity (atrociously killed in a labor camp in 1945). I enjoyed this as much as Dan Simmons' Drood for the unpredictable adventure-cum-love affairs-cum-psychedelic visions, and to realize Szerb was writing 70 years ...more
Tim Pendry
Mar 23, 2008 Tim Pendry rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in mid-twentieth century European literature
Amusing and ironic inter-war Hungarian take on occult themes - post-modern well before its time. Not quite a master piece but very interesting with some affectionate insights on how others saw the British - their class system, their literature, their national character, their empire and their 'stiff upper lip'.

Szerb has been re-introduced to London by Pushkin Press and this is recommended as a pleasant amusing read that is a cut above the conspiracy schlock that has appeared in the wake of the
...more
Joanna
Inhalt:

János Bátky aus Budapest ist Philosoph und hat ein Faible für die Mystiker des 17. Jahrhunderts. Als er eines Abends dem Earl of Gwynned vorgestellt wird, verändert sich János ruhiges Leben auf einen Schlag. Der Earl lädt ihn auf sein Schloss ein, um dort in der Bibliothek zu studieren. Da kann der junge Wissenschaftler natürlich nicht nein sagen und zusammen mit Maloney und dem jungen Osborne Pendragon reist er nach Wales. Doch dort geschehen merkwürdige Dinge. Jemand trachtet dem Earl n
...more
Bbrown
Given the subject matter of this book I expected to like it far more than I did, but the tone that Szerb wrote the story in tempered my enjoyment rather severely. Its most impressive quality isn't one that I put much value in, and unfortunately I kept being reminded of other books that I think handle similar subject matter in a more impressive fashion. Nevertheless, it's certainly not a bad book, and I'm planning on giving another Szerb book a try in the near future.

The Pendragon Legend is an ad
...more
Michael Cayley
A highly original, hilarious and virtuosic novel about an academic who finds himself caught up in an unlikely sequence of events involving attempted assassinations of an Earl, Rosicrucian lore, biological experiments, ghostly happenings, love affairs and a fortune. If you can imagine a blend of P G Wodehouse, Conan Doyle, Gothic novels and esotericism, you will have some feel for what the novel is like. A hugely enjoyable jeu d'esprit.
Kelli
This is a great book that my Hungarian friend chose for book club. Szerb was a famous Hungarian writer whose life interests and even his personal traits and views are embodied in this his most popular novels. It was a pretty fun read, smart, successfully borrowing from (and yet convincingly satirizing) gothic themes, the romantic novel, murder mystery and the occult. Reminded me in some ways of Hawthorne's "Young Goodman Brown."
Rob
Hugely enjoyable: an intelligent, ironic, playful, wistful, multi-layered Welsh-Gothic literary thriller. If you like Carlos Ruiz Zafon and Scooby Doo, you'll love this almost forgotten 1930s gem from Hungarian writer Antal Szerb.
Đorđe Bajić
Izuzetno prijatno iznenađenje, roman čiji mi je senzibilitet veoma prijao. Kombinacija natprirodnog horora, krimića i komedije; izuzetno efektno uklopljeno i uzbudljivo.
Zsuzsiraf
Viszonylag kevés könyvnél találkozom azzal az élménnyel, amikor fizikailag is érzem (amit persze amúgy is tudok), hogy mennyire jó olvasni. Nagyon ritka, hogy egy könyv ennyire beszippant, amikor volt egy szabad percem biztos, hogy ezt olvastam.
De Szerb Antal a végeknél mindig meglep. Nem kiszámítható - ami nagyon helyes. Ugyanakkor néha teljesen random és olyan meg nem magyarázható érzéseket hagy bennem, amit csak úgy tudnék megfogalmazni, hogy másban reménykedtem. De - csakúgy mint az Utas és
...more
David F.
This is a great mystery thriller with the sort of fantasy elements Dan Brown gives his novels but this novel was written decades before The DaVinci Code. It is full of dry, ironic wit. The story's protagonist is a young Hungarian scholar (much like the author at the time) who is living in Britain (much as Szerb had been shortly before writing it). His view of the British is that of a dedicated Anglophile who absolutely loves all things British and believes every stereotype the British held about ...more
Whitaker
A really great book shows us how everything is great and worth to die for
Sudha Bellamkonda
I don't think I had laugh out loud moments while reading something in a long time. The style and humor are slightly P.G Wodehouse-ian but the main character is unlike anything I have ever come across before. In his observation of the the ironies of the world he is acutely aware of his own failings that makes him both likable and awe-inspiring. I picked this up at a bookstore in Budapest, wanting to read a novel about Hungarian people - this is anything but! I have however a new favorite author t ...more
Lori
Oct 10, 2014 Lori rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Readers who enjoyed Udolpho, Northanger Abbey, John Buchan and The Man Who was Thursday.
The Pendragon Legend' is like a cross between The Mysteries of Udolpho and The Man Who Was Thursday, with a touch of John Buchan thrown in. Essentially it's a Gothic adventure, but also a bit of a parody like Northanger Abbey. It's about a young Hungarian doctor (a thinly-veiled version of the author I think) who goes to stay with the mysterious Earl of Gwynedd at his castle in Wales. The Earl is part of the Pendragon family, who are linked to the Rosacrucians. It is rumoured that the Earl is co ...more
Matti Karjalainen
Antal Szerbin esikoisromaani "Pendragonin legenda" (Atena, 2008) on 1930-luvulla kirjoitettu romaani unkarilaisesta tutkijasta János Bátkysta, joka tulee sattumalta tempaistuksi mukaan keskelle vanhaan Pendragonin aatelissukuun kytkeytyvää tapahtumasarjaa.

Goottilaissävytteisessä kauhuromaanissa päähenkilömme joutuu tekemisiin muun muassa tekemisiin okkultismin, muinaisten alkemistien, elämän ja kuoleman kysymyksiä ratkovien jaarlien, öisin ilmestyvien tummanpuhuvien ratsumiesten ja Ilmestyskirj
...more
Allycks
A totally enjoyable pseudo gothic romp written by an erudite Hungarian with a taste for wisecracks, clever plot twists, and some serious Gaelic mysticism. A pretty funky mix, but Szerb makes it all work with ease. The Pendragon Legend was written in 1934, which seems amazing considering the vaguely Murakami sensibility that radiates from both characters and theme. Szerb occasionally skates the surface too much, and at times it feels like a great opportunity for deeper insight or at least a littl ...more
Lucy
This is a fast moving, riotous tale, in which the author throws caution to the winds and stretches his imagination and the reader's credulity the limits. An unrecognizably gothic Welsh setting, a delicious femme fatale and an increasingly dark series of events make this a thrilling read that despite its perennial humour left this reader at least shivering with genuine unease at the end.

Bludhaven
This is a very interesting novel that consciously plays with the boundaries of literary genres: This starts out like something out of a gotchic tale, truns out to be a murder mystery with greedy legacy hunters on the move, satirises the genre conventions in a very unconventional way and then ends on a note of literary phantastic that ends the story well, but doesn't answer all of the questions.

The young Hungarian academic Bátky meets the mysterious Owen Pendragon, Earl of Gwynnedh. As they are b
...more
Noémi Balási
Oh my. I read Journey by Moonlight by Szerb long ago and I remember how thrilled I was to discover such a hidden gem of Hungarian literature. God knows why I thought that time it was only the book and not the author, and I didn't give more chance to his books. Reading the Pendragon Legend this time I was totally enchanted again. It was light, witty, incredibly entertaining, but all over enwreathed with the overwhelming intelligence of the author. The Pendragon Legend is a fine blend of gothic an ...more
Elina
Adorable characters, like men who love books more than women. Quite an "ordinary" gothic horror plot with ghosts and satanic practices - fun to read about freemasons etc. just after I read The Prague Cemetery by Umberto Eco. Ironic writing style made me laugh my heart out.

Between the lines I read some possible political commentary, that might have been influenced by me knowing the author died on a nazi concentration camp. Anyway it's a more modern book compared to some contemporaries, in the way
...more
Ali Miremadi
Clever, funny and wonderfully written. Typical Szerb protagonist in a story which must have been meant as a pastiche of Wilkie Collins, Conan Doyle and Radcliffe and prefigures Umberto Eco and Douglas Adams. And the one liners are pure Wodehouse. All that aside, Szerb has a voice all of his own.
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Szerb was born in 1901 to assimilated Jewish parents in Budapest, but baptized Catholic. He studied Hungarian, German and later English, obtaining a doctorate in 1924. From 1924 to 1929 he lived in France and Italy, also spending a year in London, England.
As a student he published essays on Georg Trakl and Stefan George, and quickly established a formidable reputation as a scholar, writing erudite
...more
More about Antal Szerb...

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Seria z Jamnikiem (1 - 10 of 22 books)
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