Study Guide

A Riddle

by Antonio Tabucchi

A Riddle Summary

Summary (Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

The narrator sits in a bar telling a story to a man identified only as Monsieur, and he begins with a dream of Miriam, the countess of Terrail, he had the night before, seeing her walking on the beach at Biarritz. The dream prompts him to recount the whole riddle of his journey with her, but first he reminisces about his experiences with Albert, a race car driver whom he met in Saint-Denis, and the car that Albert claimed had belonged to Agostinelli, Marcel Proust’s driver. Albert and the narrator, a mechanic, soon team up in running an auto repair shop, with Albert finding the vintage cars to restore and the narrator handling sales. The narrator then tells of having met Miriam at Chez Albert, a bistro near the Porte Saint-Denis in Paris.

After Miriam introduces herself, the narrator jokingly says that he is the marquis of Carabas. Miriam tells him not to joke about being the marquis, announces that someone wants to kill her, and walks out after leaving her name and phone number on a matchbox. The narrator does not call her, but a few days later, her husband, the count of Terrail, arrives at the narrator’s office, explaining that his wife wants to take their 1927 Bugatti Royale to Biarritz and proceed to a car rally in San Sebastián, Spain. The count thinks that his wife has asked the narrator to drive her to Biarritz, and he presents him with a large check and a request that he refuse the countess’s proposal. The narrator refuses the check and truthfully denies any knowledge of such an offer, and the count leaves. This arouses the curiosity of...

(The entire section is 639 words.)