The novel follows Mihály, a Budapest native from a bourgeois family on his honeymoon in Italy as he encounters and attempts to make sense of his past. The novel features his romantic figure, aloof and poetic, but struggling to break with an adolescent rebelliousness which he tries to quell under respectable bourgeois conformism, but also with the disturbing attraction of an erotic death-wish.
Some of the neurotic episodes that Mihály experiences throughout the story have been understood as motifs related to Freudian psychoanalysis, which had been especially influential at the time in Hungary
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