Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Hungarian Literature...

A nice review of the recently reissued Hungarian novel Sunflower by Gyula Krudy in the los angeles times. Sounds very entertaining:

The innocent Eveline loves Kálmán, gambler and hound dog, who sponges off her and other women, with whom he repeatedly betrays her. Andor Álmos, a lonely country gentleman, loves her and dies for her -- though when she weeps over his corpse he comes back to life. Álmos' mother (also named Eveline) has lost three husbands, the first two in duels and the third because she vowed to sleep with him only if he promised to kill himself afterward. Mr. Pistoli, an aging Don Juan, sent three wives to the insane asylum; one night they all escape and turn up for a farewell foursome. When Miss Maszkerádi, a brassy feminist, reverts to men, she sleeps with Pistoli; the pleasure kills him, apparently permanently. Eveline and Álmos consider marrying and settling down to a passionless life in birch country. That's it.

I am always looking for more books set in the Austro-Hungarian empire so I will definitely look out for this one. Some more details from complete review.

I have read quite a few Hungarian novels in the last year. The novel that impressed me most of all was The Melancholy of Resistance by Laszlo Krasznahorkai. I have written about my enthusiasm for it many times before too and also my dismay that it is still quite obscure. I had similar feelings with its film adaptation Werckmeister Harmonies too though comparatively Bela Tarr is quite well-received and famous among the arthouse crowd.

Other good Hungarian books I have read:

Embers by Sandor Marai: Love, mystery and melancholy... all set against the backdrop (again) of the Habsbug monarchy. Marai's other novel The Rebels came out in translation too which sounded similar. Brief post on Embers here.

Kaddish for an Unborn Child and Fatelessness by Imre Kertesz: Two short and haunting books dealing with holocaust experience and its aftermath. I specially loved the Kaddish book with its long senteces and its relentless negation. I have to find some time for Liquidation too. Small note about Kaddish here.

War and War by Laszlo Krasznahorkai: Not as good as Melancholy but still the chapter length long sentences are exhilarating. The historical digressions get boring after a while but the main narrative remains engaging throughout.

Authors on the to-read list: Peter Nadas, who according to Susan Sontag is the Hungarian Proust, and also Peter Esterhazy.


KUBLA KHAN said...

have you read Magda Szabo? hungarian and a good writer. i recently read The Door and liked it. recommeded.

Alok said...

Nope. Never even heard of his name before. Will see if i can find it here.