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Dossier K [Paperback]

Imre Kertesz
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

9 May 2013
Kertesz delves into his life not only during the Second World War, when he was deported from Budapest at 14 with other Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz concentration camp, but also his experiences under so-called 'Goulash Communism'. Dossier K is the first and only memoir from Imre Kertesz, an author whose fiction has often been understood through his life. Unique insights into his life and work come in the form of an illuminative, engaging and, at times, combative interview by the author to himself.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Melville House Publishing (9 May 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1612192025
  • ISBN-13: 978-1612192024
  • Product Dimensions: 20.3 x 12.4 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 665,335 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'It is a deeply ironic, passionate comedy of a book full of marvellous, intoxicating answers... It is rare that we find what at first sight seems a philosophical quibble of a memoir such a page turner, but that is what it is. The reader is constantly on the scent of truth about the most basic, most dreadful, most vital human affairs. It is what makes Kertesz a great writer.' - The Times

'Melville House... have done us all a favour by publishing Wilkinson's translation of Dossier K... Kertész's presence is extraordinary... Kertész's harsh objectivity severity, one might say is matched by a rather sweet strain of melancholy and nostalgia, and much of the pleasure of the book derives from his recalling of details of his early life in Hungary.' --- The Guardian (13 July)

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5.0 out of 5 stars Final Masterpiece 26 Dec 2013
Format:Paperback
This "dossier" was a completely brilliant autobiographical gambit by Kertesz, positing the interview format for not merely relaying the story of his life and circumstances, but in order to encompass a discussion of difficult things which any number of interviewers might not be able to comfortably negotiate with someone of this magnitude of sentience and experience. As well as questions many may not have the courage or the ethical wherewithal to project (such as inviting an answer to Adorno's statement that to write and essentially create art "after Auschwitz is barbaric"), there would also be those which might simply never arise, largely circumstantial to his personal life and realizations. Kertesz can engage all this material as he chooses and in whatever order, moving chronologically or circuitously, while orchestrating counterpoints of meaning and often producing deeply emotional effects.

Without a doubt, Dossier K. is the only real "interview" that we are likely to need, especially now that his interview in the current Paris Review is officially his last given one, in light of his Parkinson's condition. It seems it will be his final masterpiece. His spirit and fierce intelligence will be missed.
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Amazon.com: 3.7 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Final Masterpiece 14 July 2013
By TravellerThruKalpas - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This "dossier" was a completely brilliant autobiographical gambit by Kertesz, positing the interview format for not merely relaying the story of his life and circumstances, but in order to encompass a discussion of difficult things which any number of interviewers might not be able to comfortably negotiate with someone of this magnitude of sentience and experience. As well as questions many may not have the courage or the ethical wherewithal to project (such as inviting an answer to Adorno's statement that to write and essentially create art "after Auschwitz is barbaric"), there would also be those which might simply never arise, largely circumstantial to his personal life and realizations. Kertesz can engage all this material as he chooses and in whatever order, moving chronologically or circuitously, while orchestrating counterpoints of meaning and often producing deeply emotional effects.

Without a doubt, Dossier K. is the only real "interview" that we are likely to need, especially now that his interview in the current Paris Review is officially his last given one, in light of his Parkinson's condition. It seems it will be his final masterpiece. His spirit and fierce intelligence will be missed.
3.0 out of 5 stars An often contradictory and paradoxical book 2 Oct 2013
By J.D. Hunley - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is an autobiographical interview by Kertesz of himself in which the interviewee-self disagrees with or rejects many of the interviewer's comments and questions. In the last line of the book, the interviewee provides what may be a sort-of key to the book: "I take delight in contradictions."

This is perhaps a useful perspective on the Nobel-Prize-winning author's point of view but is not very helpful to a reader seeking to understand the nature of literature, especially literature about the Holocaust. The first such contradiction is about the relationship between autobiography and fiction. In a sort of preface, Kertesz calls the book "a veritable autobiography," then says, "If one acknowledges Nietzsche's proposition that the prototype of the novel as an art form was to be found in the Platonic dialogues, then the Reader is in fact holding a novel in his or her hands." A few pages later, he writes, "A book is either autobiography or a novel. If it's autobiography you evoke the past, you try as scrupulously a possible to stick to your recollections. . . . A good autobiography is like a document: a mirror of the age on which people can 'depend.' In a novel, by contrast, it's not the facts that matter, but precisely what you add to the facts." Kertesz doesn't say, however, what he "add[s] to the facts" in his novels.

Elsewhere, he relates how problematical a tool memory is. In one place, the interviewer quotes from Kertesz's _Kaddish for an Unborn Child_, which the interviewee says is a novel. "The narrator is exaggerating. . . because [in the novel,] every figure of speech has to be distorted to fit [its] exaggeration. . . . art is nothing other than exaggeration and distortion." [A view earlier held by English novelist Thomas Hardy.]

Early in the book, the interviewee says he wouldn't draw a sharp distinction between reality and fiction. A few pages on he says that a scene from _Fatelessness_, his first novel, was "as true to life as could be, and yet it also served the novel's fictional structure superbly." Of another of his books, he says, "The series of events conforms to reality. . . . everything happened as I describe it. But that in itself already seems beyond the bounds of the credible. . . . That reality only becomes problematic if . . . you attempt to bring it out of the gloom: that is when you immediately realize its impossibility." For example, he had written about eiderdown individual beds in the infirmary at Buchenwald. He sought documentary proof for their existence and was unable to find it. But he had placed his bunkmate by name in the book, and after Kertesz received the Nobel Prize, a Polish gentleman by that name, having read the novel, came up to him excitedly. They spoke no common language but the bunkmate, he thinks, confirmed the eiderdown bunks.

"Truth is no longer universal--that's a grave fact, but it must be acknowledged," he writes. "It is simpler to. . . choose our own truth rather than the truth." That is pure postmodern doctrine. Later: "Truth belongs only to the dead, no one else," he writes about the holocaust. Then the interviewer quotes him, "Silence is truth. But a truth which is silent, and the ones who speak up will have right on their side," which the interviewer interprets as saying "the truth belongs to those who speak out." Then, the interviewee states, "I don't know what the truth is. I don't know whether it is my job to know what the truth is, in any case. Truth-telling artists generally prove to be bad artists. Anyone who is right generally proves not to be right. We need to have respect for man's fallibility and ignorance; there is nothing sorrier than a person who is right. . . ." Here he breaks off in mid-sentence and leaves the issue in a paradoxical state. Later, still: "I always doubt every sentence I utter, but I have never for a moment doubted that I have to write what I happen to be writing."

In short, it seems to me that it is very difficult to make much sense of these and other contradictory utterances. Perhaps Kertesz is suggesting that it is equally difficult to make sense of a reality that contains the Holocaust.
3.0 out of 5 stars Informative 23 Aug 2013
By Peter Dencik - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The books gives an interesting insight in Kertesz' thoughts and contemplation but it requires that you have read at least a few of the books which is the subject of this book
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