The Architect of Ruins is considered one of the masterpieces of 20th century German fiction. It is an archetypal Dedalus novel with its literary game-playing and story-within-a-story.
Four men led by the Architect of Ruins construct an Armagedon shelter, in the shape of a giant cigar, so that when the end of the world comes they can enter eternity in the right mood, whilst playing a Schubert string quartet. They amuse themselves by telling stories, which take on a life of their own, with walk on parts for Faust, Don Juan, da Ponte, and G.K. Chesterton etc as the narrative flashes back and forth between the Dark Ages and the Modern Day, like a literary Mobius strip.
Herbert Rosendorfer was born in Germany in 1934. His first novel Der Ruinenbaumeister (1969) was a critical and commercial success. It was first published in English by Dedalus in 1992 as The Architect of Ruins. This was followed by Stephanie in 1995, which was shortlisted for the Shlegel-Tieck Translation Prize. Letters Back to Ancient China is the most commercially successful of his novels. Mike Mitchell’s translation was awarded the Schlegel-Tieck Translation Prize in 1997. Dedalus published Grand Solo for Anton by Herbert Rosendorfer in 2006.