For fiction there are two roads to translation the low road from bestseller dom, and the high road from literary ness Knowing nothing of N das s sales in Hungarian, my hunch is that this book took the high road.In my time in Hungary I ve seen books on both roads Hungarians waste much time translating and even reading rubbish like Bridget Jones presumably on the basis that sales in English sales in Hungarian, even when they have own exemplars of the genre like ll ts tok meg Ter zanyut I have to wonder what Hungarian singletons make of Bridget, femininity is done so much seriously here.In the case of Imre Ket sz the road his work was on was so high that it was out of sight for most Hungarians, and curiosity than pride was their reaction to the news that he had won the Noble prize for literature As a result his work must have become widely available in Hungarian and in English at the same time, as Hungarians bought, struggled with and then abandoned Fatelessness Abandoned in part, no doubt, because of the one, two, three page long paragraphs.Which brings me back to this book, ever since Joyce, who adopted Hungarian quotation marks for his own work, pissing about with punctuation has been a sure sign of literary high roadedness And this book, being the first person narrative of a growing child, owes a lot to the opening chapters of portrait of the artist as a young man though the quotation marks are original.My own thoughts are so staccato and disconnected indeed writing things out in sentences and paragraphs is the only way I come to understand what I think it has always eluded me why the absence of punctuation is seen as representative of stream of consciousness e.e.cummings does a better job, and he often seems to have punctuation than words N das is Joycean in this respect, though, and we have twenty page slabs of words Twenty page slabs are just about manageable and thankfully, the sentence punctuation is regular I wish mine was.Inside these slabs one can find or at least I found a book in three parts The first part is the child s point of view on adult goings on involving his father climbing in through windows late at night, and his friends mother parading about in the nude Any connection between these events though it seems possible now entirely eluded me while I was struggling with the child s perspective and the slabs of words.The second part was much satisfying, as it was a series of stories told to the child by his dying grandfather about there predecessors This being a Jewish family it starts in Jerusalem as the time of the first millennium, and the follows the generations around Europe as they are buffeted by pogrom after pogrom eventually finding some security in Budapest in the 16th century All of these stories are reported to us by the child and garbled and truncated appropriately The result of all this garbling and truncating is that I wished I was reading Book of the Fathers again, where the same material was covered by a writer at the height of powers and not by a pre pubescent kid who spends his time trying a get a peek at his friend s mum in the buff.Now what is interesting I suppose is that the third part of the book, in which the family story is brought to an end, is not set in 1944 the year the brought the end to so many Jewish Hungarian family stories In fact how the family got through that year, given that they were of Jewish origin and living the countryside, which was quietly but completely cleansed, is not discussed at all Instead, it s the 1950 s and the father is imprisioned following a show trail, the grandparents die, and the boy is shoved into an orphanage, where he is punished by being made to be silent.Now I realise that this account is itself garbled and truncated, but really I can t be arsed to go back and sort it all out, especially as I have to struggle through the same point of view and the same lack of paragraphs Sometimes such literary affects Absalom Absalom really help the reader to realise the significance of the story, and sometimes they simply disguise the absence of a significant story.One of the major problems of reading Hungarian literature in translation is that so much of if travels the high road, and because there is so much English traffic on the low road, Hungarian bestsellers are rarely translated It not s just that I m not reading Hungarian, I m not reading what Hungarians read. Peter N Das Roman F Hrt Ins Ungarn Der Stalin Ra Und Der Schauprozesse, Doch Behandelt Er Die Zeit Nicht Nach Politischen Denkschemata, Sondern Aus Der Kinderperspektive Ein Kleiner Junge Berichtet Vom Terror Der Totalit Ren Au Enwelt, In Die Sein Vater Verstrickt Ist, Von Der Zweitausendj Hrigen Leidensgeschichte Des Judentums, Die Ihm Sein Gro Vater Erz Hlt Hat, Und Vom Mythischen Universum Seiner Kindheit Die Literarischen M Glichkeiten Dieses Keineswegs Naiven Blickwinkels Nutzt N Das, Um Das Ganze Ausma Des Psychischen Skandals Jener Jahre Vor Augen Zu F Hren ocuk anlat c n n oldu u romanlara d k nseniz, modern roman teknikleri de ilginizi ekiyorsa g zden ka rmaman z gereken bir kitap Tek bir zaman dilimi olmamas na, anlat m n tek y nde akmamas na ra men da lm yorsunuz Sonu haricinde olduk a ba ar l 3.5 5 Sort of a preliminary sketch for Bu kitab okurken s k nt dan patl yordum En zor bitirdi im kitaplardan biridir Yani ne anlat yor nas l anlat yor halen tam zemedim Peter Nadas kusura bakmas n san r m benim idrak yollar mda enfeksiyon var zira kitab n ortalamas ok da d k say lmaz.Yine de ufak bir fikir olmas a s ndan biraz kitaptan bahsedelim, birka anlat c yla, Macaristan da bir ailenin sava , y k m, vatana ihanet hususlar nda ya ad sorunlar biraz d sel biraz ele tirel olarak ele alm yazar slubu bana ok ters geldi, asl nda konu fena de il fakat okuyucuya ya ananlar n ge irilmesi hususunda problem ya ad n d n yorum. Ebben l ttam a koncepci t Jobb, mint egy EPi annyira nem poszt, csak modern de az rt j , hogy v get rt a csal dreg ny 3 T st kirjasta j i kovin ristiriitaiset mietteet En pit nyt kappalejaottomasta, sekavasta tyylist joka sekoitti totta ja kuvitelmaa Ainoastaan hetkitt in p sin kiinni pienen pojan ajatusmaailmaan, jota t ll oli varmasti haettu Erityisen symbolisten kohtausten kohdalla mietin l hinn olenko tyhm kun en oikein ymm rr mit on haettu, vai enk ymm rr , koska en tied riitt v sti Unkarin l hihistoriasta T m verotti lukunautintoa kovasti.Toisaalta itse kirjan aihepiiri, lapsen kokemus diktatuurissa, jossa terrori perustuu siihen ett kuka tahansa voi ilmiantaa jonkun toisen, oli todella koskettava Pidin lis ksi tavasta jossa suppea perhekuvaus oli kudottu osaksi laajempaa suvun historiaa, t ss oli hiukan samaa ajallista spiraalimaisuutta kuin kev ll lukemassani Jukka Laajarinteen Kehyksess Kaksi t hte j kokonaisuudeksi Taidan k ytt t m n helmet haasteen kielletyksi kirjaksi, kun kansitekstiss mainitaan t m n juuttuneen aikanaan sensuuriin. I decided to write a short review in English, although this is a Hungarian novel and there are two reasons for me doing so First, N das is one of the few Hungarian authors whose books are actually translated to English so there is a chance that some of you will read this novel, and second, I haven t seen any critiques on here in English which would do justice to this marvellous little work As the title gives it away, the book is a family story, mainly narrated by a little boy who is living with his grandparents during the communist 1950 s in Hungary His narration is very fragmented throughout the book, the stories are coming together pince by piece, jumping back and forth in time The other main figure in the book is the Jewish granddad, who is telling the story of the family to his grandson, passing on the knowledge of thousands of years He married a Catholic Christian woman, which is his way of saying no to all the suffering during the history of Judaism The tragedy of his life is that his son, the Father of the boy turned his back to religion and became a highly ranked communist official, thus stepping out of history These three systems of values Jewish, Catholic and nonreligious communist are affecting the boy, who is trying to take all of this in, while also creating his own mythological and imaginary world I don t want to spoil any of the events in the book, so it s hard to write much , however it is a splendid piece of Hungarian literature and I can only hope that none of its gems are lost in translation. Nadas first novel easily ranks among the finest modernist treatments of childhood The fragmented and elliptical narrative is reminiscent of the first chapter of The Sound and the Fury , and often equal to that book in power The narrator s recalcitrant grandfather, who spends much of the novel weaving elaborate family myths and railing against prevailing communist politics 1950s Hungary , also recalls the eccentric patriarchs in the novels of Bohumil Hrabal and Witold Gombrowicz.
Hungarian novelist, essayist, and dramatist, a major central European literary figure N das made his international breakthrough with the monumental novel A Book of Memories 1986 , a psychological novel following the tradition of Proust, Thomas Mann, and magic realism P ter N das was born in Budapest, as the son of a high ranking party functionary N das s grandfather, Moritz Gr nfeld, changed h
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- Péter Nádas
- 06 February 2019 Péter Nádas