The phenomenal success of Sándor Márai’s Embers throughout Europe and in most English-speaking countries illustrates the previously untapped audience for the now near-legendary world of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. This era before the First World War has the odour of overripe fruit and slightly musty furniture, and its protagonists suffer from divided loyalties or from complications of the heart – either because they are desperately in love or because of their inability to fall in love. Gyula Krúdy’s The Adventures of Sindbad, now out in paperback, is a classic from that period. For lovers of Márai’s fiction it will be of interest to note that he considered Krúdy to be one of his masters.
In each of these stories the hero is Sindbad, the author’s alter ego, whose name is borrowed from the tales of the One Thousand and One Nights. The
adventures of the title are a series of women, courted, seduced, abandoned, then in many instances revisited. Sindbad makes no social distinction between