While visiting Vienna, the Shah of Persia falls for a beautiful countess. The Austrian officials arrange for him to spend the night with the countess, but unbeknown to the Shah she is a prostitute who merely resembles the countess. From this night follows a chain of ruinous consequences.
The same translation of this work has been published under two different names: _The String Of Pearls_ and _The Tale of the 1002nd Night_. (By the by, another case of this is Roth's book of reports from France.)
An arogant army officer, so out of touch with the real world that he doesn't realise he has become bankrupt - both financially and morally - fathers an illegitimate child, arranges a sordid encounter for the 'Shah of Shahs' and, through a failure to act, not only spirals to his own distruction but takes several other people with him.
The personal tale clearly reflects the state the 'state' is in.
The characters are finely drawn with an economy of words which makes this a very sharp edged tale.