By Night Under the Stone Bridge

by Leo Perutz. Arcade, $18.95. Mr. Perutz’s short stories are set in Prague in the late sixteenth century and for the most part derive from the interlocking interests of the Jewish community and the Holy Roman Empire. They are, however, shaped in the manner of legends or folk tales, populated by ghosts and wizards, progressing by coincidences and mistaken identities. If it were not for the author’s Hashes of ironic wit, they could be read as gothic works of the early nineteenth century instead of as the clever modern metaphorical fantasies that they are.