CONVERSATIONS IN BOLZANO is a classic second novel. In fact it was Sándor Márai's eighth or ninth; but it's the second to be translated from his original Hungarian. The first. Embers, was a huge success around the world. Conversations in Bolzano is also an extraordinary book, and, if it had appeared first, might have made its own impression. As it is, it's impossible not to compare it to Embers, and for it not to suffer by comparison.
In many ways it's strikingly like Embers, as though it were a rehearsal for that masterpiece, or as though Márai (like Jean Rhys, for instance) were a composer of variations on a theme. Both novels are intensely theatrical, set in a single, beautifully evoked interior - a country house in