by Victor Wolfson ‧ RELEASE DATE: Nov. 14, 1969
Despite the cinematic contributions of Charles Boyer-Danielle Darrieux and Omar Sharif-Catherine Deneuve to the legend of the double ""suicide-for-love"" of the Hapsburg Crown Prince Rudolph and his young mistress Mary Vetsera, acute observers have persisted in seeing more sinister implications in the tragic events at Mayerling. As Wolfson suggests, ""When there are no eyewitnesses and no documentary proof, then character and motive loom large in determing the cause of death."" He proceeds to dissect the widely accepted ""evidence"" for the romantic version of the story and construct his own case that Rudolph's death was a political murder carried Out at the behest of Bismarck. Points disputed: Rudolph's unstable character and suicidal leanings (the evidence does seem quite superficial); the nature of his relationship with Mary (a shallow girl who was far from the ""one and only""); and his relationship with his wife Stephanie (actually quite friendly), Wolfson bases his own argument on a reassessment of the Crown Prince's character from that of a half-mad, suicidal Lothario to that of a deeply committed political liberal. A close friend of the progressive Prince of Wales and hated enemy of the arch-conservative Prussian Kaiser-to-be Wilhelm, Rudolph struck terror into reactionaries both at home and abroad with the prospect of his ascension to the throne. Wolfson establishes plausible political motivations, but other than the presence of four Prussian hunters in the area, he has little proof positive. Whether or not his assassination thesis can ever be proved, his book serves to reemphasize the social and political meanings of Rudolph's death.
Pub Date: Nov. 14, 1969
Page Count: -
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1969
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