THE PLOT by Egon Hostovsky


Email this review


Of Hostovsky's several novels, this most closely parallels The Midnight Patient (1954) and it again follows a politically displaced, emotionally disturbed character through some hallucinatory experiences in a split-level society. At his birthday party, for two close friends and a few associates (his publisher, his lawyer, etc.), Jan Bares is for the first time confused, he claims, drugged, and insistent that he has seen an old acquaintance, George Beck. He had known Beck originally in Bohemia, an arrogant German recruiting for the Party; in later years to come, Beck had had a vitiating influence on him, persecuted him, involved him with a Nazi official. At the day's end- there is a second, unexplained visitation- a seductive blonde woman whom he later claims is the wife of his doctor. In the weeks to pass, there are further indications that he is the victim of a conspiracy: all believe him insane- except perhaps the faithful, solicitous Milada, and his friend- Robert; his schizophrenia seems more certain- to the reader too- when he finds that his signature has changed- it is now Beck's; and finally, when an attempt is made to commit him- he makes a startling recovery. Realizing that the whole world is the conspiracy, he returns to his own identity- and to Milada. Shrouded in a certain ideological mystique- invalidated by its vociferous tone- this is by no means as effective as the earlier book.

Pub Date: Jan. 27th, 1960
Publisher: Doubleday