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Metropole Paperback – 15 May 2008


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Product details

  • Paperback: 244 pages
  • Publisher: Telegram Books (15 May 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846590345
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846590344
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2 x 20.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 78,141 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"I don't know when I've read a more perfect novel-a dynamically helpless hero (in the line of Kafka), and a gorgeous spiral of action, nothing spare, nothing wrong, inventive and without artifice." Michael Hoffman TLS-

"A Central european classic to be discovered and relished." Eva Hoffman

"A masterpiece." Magazine Litteraire

"A stunning novel." Liberation

"With time, Metropole will find its due place in the twentieth-century library, on the same shelf as The Trial and 1984." G. O. Chateaureynaud

"Nightmare is the only word that fully captures Karinthy's hellish metropolis, but while it's definitely a tale of horror, Metropole is also funny and touching." --National Public Radio

"Nightmare is the only word that fully captures Karinthy's hellish metropolis, but while it's definitely a tale of horror, Metropole is also funny and touching." --National Public Radio

'A masterpiece.' Magazine Litteraire 'A stunning novel.' Liberation 'With time, Metropole will find its due place in the twentieth-century library, on the same shelf as The Trial and 1984.' G. O. Chateaureynaud --various

About the Author

Ferenc Karinthy was born in Budapest in 1921. He obtained a PhD in linguistics, and went on to be a translator and editor, as well as an award-winning novelist, playwright, journalist and water polo champion. He wrote over a dozen novels. This is the first novel to be translated into English.

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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Melmoth on 20 Aug. 2008
Format: Paperback
Arriving, bleary-eyed and jet-lagged, in a foreign land, being forced this way and that by a crowd of people whose words one cannot understand, is an everyday experience in the world of EasyJet and RyanAir. The fact that it is everyday doesn't detract from its nightmarish qualities, however.

In Metropole, Budai, a linguist on his way to Helsinki for a conference, encounters this modern nightmare in its most extreme form. After leaving his plane and blearily taking the airport bus he finds himself in an almost endless city where every street, every building is thronged by representatives of the entire human multitude, none of whom Budai can understand.

Uncertain of where this new city is, unable even to hear the words of his fellow beings clearly and consistently, Budai finds himself jostling and kicking his way through life in a grim, grey metropolis. He lives - for a while, at least - in a large but characterless hotel, buys his food from the machines in a cafeteria, spends his days riding the nameless city's Metro in search of an escape and his nights either drinking in the cramped and sweaty city bars or locked away in his room, puzzling away at newspapers and telephone directories written in a script he cannot understand.

Unable to communicate with those around him, Budai's only human contact is with the woman who operates the lift in his hotel, a woman whose name he cannot even hear or pronounce consistently - is she Bebe, Ebede, Dede, Pepep, Debebe, Tyetye or Epepe?

Slowly Budai finds himself carried by the human crowd into strange religious ceremonies, into penury, into carnival and even into revolution and defeat - his only thoughts those of escape or of his unnameable new love.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By SP Crowley on 15 Jun. 2009
Format: Paperback
This is a stunningly good book about the nightmarish misadventures of Budai, a Hungarian linguist who, for reasons never explained, is diverted from Helsinki to an unnamed city. Here, bafflingly, considering his occupation, he can make neither head nor tail of the language, written or spoken. Deprived of this basic human need and, in the face of a population who are oblivious or even hostile to his plight he finds himself in a range of situations lovingly detailed by the other reviewers on this page who presumably want to save you the bother of reading the book. Karinthy (will someone please translate more of his work!) is clearly fascinated by language and how it gives us a hold on the world. In this city, linguistic structures appear to have fallen apart and the ramifications of this become clear towards the end.
The quotes that adorn the cover of this book are, for once, justified. If you want a reference point, Franz Kafka is an obvious one and Kazuo Ishiguro's 'The Unconsoled' but this book stands alone as a masterpiece.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Cunliffe TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 30 July 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In Metropole, Hungarian linguist Budai travels to Helsinki for an international conference but inadvertently is placed on a flight to an un-named and unidentifiable city, where he finds himself whisked away to an hotel without his baggage. He finds himself unable to communicate with the hotel staff despite trying several languages, and because he is so tired he decides to accept the room he is offered and to sort out revised travel plans in the morning.

So begins this labyrinthine tale of abandonment in a foreign city, every traveller's nightmare, where nobody can recognise your language, where your passport has been retained by your hotel, you have no baggage and only a limited supply of money.

The city Budai finds himself in is vastly over-crowded. Budai is pushed and shoved every time he steps outside and returns from his exploratory expeditions bruised and aching. The shops are full, endless queues form in cafeterias and shops, and customers have to find what they want, then queue to pay for it and queue again to pick it up (echoes of Foyles bookshop in Charing Cross Road in times past). It is the same in the hotel. Budai is unable to make his problem known to the hotel staff owing to their knowledge of only their own language and as Budai makes sign language or draws little diagrams, the staff are already looking over his shoulder at the next customer.

Days pass, with the mystery of the location of the city and its strange language deepening all the time. Budai resorts to assaulting a policeman in order to get arrested: at least that way someone will take notice of him and perhaps call for an interpreter. All that happens however is a brief encounter with a casual and brutish system which spits him out again as quickly as it took him in.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Agnieszka Lyons on 16 July 2011
Format: Paperback
After all the hype that accompanied the book when it was recommended to me, I was expecting a mind-blowing intellectual feast. Sadly, it didn't happen.

I appreciate what Karinthy is trying to achieve and I'm certain this book could be life-changing for some people. For me, however, it seemed recycled and lacked consistency in quality. In the first third I couldn't escape the feeling that crudely moulded ideas were getting chiseled into my mind ("Yes, I get your point. I don't need this 14th example of the same stage of Budai's life."). Then it picks up, but the ending is predictable. It reminds me of a chick flick ending.

The question of language is tackled well. It can open your eyes to a whole range of questions of cognition and perception: activating schemata to aid interpretation of one's surroundings, language acquisition, etc. I wonder how much a non-linguistally-trained reader would take home from this book. For a linguist, it's neither here, nor there: too analytical for just-a-good-novel, but lacking the depth of insight that would leave a linguistically-aware person thinking.

Overall, a good read. For some people. Worth reading, if only to form your own opinion.
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