THE GREAT BAGAROZY
By HELMUT KRAUSSER (Dedalus; 1997)
This was apparently “one of the most acclaimed German novels of recent years,” written by “the great hope of German literature.” I’m not sure I agree with either sentiment. THE GREAT BAGAROZY is an entertaining enough exercise in freeform oddness, but also a pretty slight one.
It has Cora, a married woman psychiatrist, falling in love with a patient named Stanislaus Nagy, an apparent schizophrenic obsessed with the legendary Italian crooner Maria Callas. Nagy initially claims that Callas appears to him in visions, and indeed seems to possess an impossibly thorough knowledge of her and her life.
As their relationship progresses the guy reveals to Cora that he’s actually the Devil Himself. Why the Devil would be in love with Maria Callas I don’t quite understand, but that’s the situation.
Nagy, being the supernaturally-endowed ruler
of the underworld he claims to be, apparently got close to Lady Callas
by inhabiting the body of her pet poodle (a front page photo of Callas
with said poodle helps illustrate this point). Callas was eventually
driven to near-madness and death, but Nagy is still smitten with her,
and refuses to consummate his affair with Cora.