Julian Duplain

Julian Duplain: Peter Lengyel: Cobblestone

Cobblestone is subtitled ”a philosophical mystery for the millennium”, but, by Peter Lengyel's Hungarian dating, that event is already almost a century behind us: the 1896 thousand-year anniversary of the founding of the Magyar nation was celebrated in Budapest under the watchful eyes of the Austro-Hungarian Dual Monarchy. But Lengyel's ambitions extend either side of the Hapsburg era, back to man's first stabs at narrative structure and forward to the last years of the People's Republic, in an elaborate historical sweep dedicated to the proposition that, throughout it all, ”Hungary was still there” (a phrase that one of the narrator's fellow-writers has particular trouble getting past the censors). The national history lesson is clearly told, but the low-life iettings and cops-and-robbers shenanigans are more universal pieces of genre writing.