Katja Perat : The Masochist
Its title notwithstanding, The Masochist is a delight and immensely rewarding to read: witty, energetic, erudite, profound, and all of a piece.
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Katja Perat's novel is a serio-comical fictional romp through the Habsburg Empire of the fin de siècle, beginning in 1874 Lemberg (present day Lviv/Lvov in Ukraine), continuing to Vienna, and ending in the Habsburg Adriatic seaport of Trieste in 1912. Along her way, the protagonist, the daughter of Leopold von Sacher-Masoch encounters luminaries of the Empire's cultural elite, including Gustav Klimt and his models Adele Bloch-Bauer and Emilie Flöge, Gustav and Alma Mahler, Sigmund Freud, Theodor Herzl, the Princess von Thurn und Taxis, Rainer Maria Rilke and others, in each case providing the reader with new, seemingly first-hand insights into these real-life individuals’ characters and thought, not to mention the protagonist’s own long and sometimes tortured personal development and emotional maturation. Its title notwithstanding, The Masochist is a delight and immensely rewarding to read: witty, energetic, erudite, profound, and all of a piece.