Antal Szerb: VII. Olivér (Oliver VII)


The latest addition to my website is Antal Szerb‘s VII. Olivér (Oliver VII). This is a light-hearted novel, set in the fictitious Southern European country of Alturia. The country is broke and is considering an offer from Coltor, a rich businessman from neighbouring Norlandia. He will take over the two main Alturian industries, sardine fishing and wine, in return for bailing out the country. King Oliver VII and his ministers are reluctantly in favour while the people are not. Indeed, a revolution is under way, determined to stop the treaty and one of the associated conditions, that Oliver marry Princess Ortrud of Norlandia. The revolution takes place, Oliver’s reluctant uncle Geront takes his place, and Oliver leaves the country. He reappears in Venice, where he is living under an assumed name and identity, working with a bunch of swindlers. The swindlers aim to swindle Coltor out of a sum of money using someone pretending to be Oliver VII to assist them. The fake Oliver is, of course, the real Oliver, though some of the swindlers do not think that he is a very convincing Oliver. It is all great fun and light-hearted and a well-told tale.

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