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The Melancholy of Resistance Paperback – 20 Sep 2013

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: New Directions (20 Sept. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0811215040
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811215046
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 2.3 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 27,653 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

László Krasznahorkai is a Hungarian writer born in 1954. Krasznahorkai has been honoured with numerous literary prizes, among them the highest award of the Hungarian state, the Kossuth Prize and, in 1993, the German Bestenliste Prize for the best literary work of the year. His novel SATANTANGO was translated by George Szirtes and won the Best Translated Book Award 2013.

László Krasznahorkai is the winner of the 2015 Man Booker International Prize.

Product Description

Synopsis

Reclusive Hungarian writer dissects the anxieties of post-communist Europe in a surreal and dark tale: hysteria sets in when the circus comes to town promising to display the stuffed body of the largest whale in the world. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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First Sentence
Since the passenger train connecting the icebound estates of the southern lowlands, which extend from the banks of the Tisza almost as far as the foot of the Carpathians, had, despite the garbled explanations of a haplessly stumbling guard and the promises of the Stationmaster rushing nervously on and off the platform, failed to arrive ('Well, squire, it seems to have disappeared into thin air again . . .' the guard shrugged, pulling a sour face), the only two serviceable old wooden-seated coaches maintained for just such an 'emergency' were coupled to an obsolete and unreliable 424, used only as a last resort, and put to work, albeit a good hour and a half late, according to a timetable to which they were not bound and which was only an approximation anyway, so that the locals who were waiting in vain for the eastbound service, and had accepted its delay with what appeared to be a combination of indifference and helpless resignation, might eventually arrive at their destination some fifty kilometres further along the branch line. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By J. R. Brookes on 6 Jan. 2011
Format: Paperback
I have just spent a fascinating couple of weeks in the outer reaches of Hungary, with an excellent novel entitled "The Melancholy of Resistance" by acclaimed Hungarian author László Krasznahorkai.

Krasznahorkai, it must be said, stands out at as a hugely significant writer whose importance has been rightly recognised outside of his native country. According to Susan Sontag, he is "the contemporary Hungarian master of apocalypse who inspires comparison with Gogol and Melville". W. G. Sebald had this to say: "The universality of Krasznahorkai's vision rivals that of Gogol's Dead Souls and far surpasses all the lesser concerns of contemporary writing."

I have to agree. The key premise of this novel is deceptively simple - a strange circus rolls into a small, run-down town, purporting to show a huge whale carcass as its main exhibit, along with a shadowy figure known as `The Prince'. This character appears to have a sinister hold over previous towns' audiences - many of whom have travelled into this town with the circus... with a possibly nefarious intent.

Against this backdrop we are concerned with the machinations of three main characters:

Valuska - a hapless and pliable, but essentially good-natured individual who is widely seen as the town idiot and is caught up in events with tragic consequences.

Mrs Eszter - a totalitarian individual who is plotting a take-over of the town, with both the circus and Valuska as key tools for realising this.

Mr Eszter - the downtrodden academic husband of Mrs Eszter: a recluse who has removed himself from the disintegrating society around him, yet is spurred into action in defending Valuska; who he alone can see merit in.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Black Glove on 24 May 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
THE MELANCHOLY OF RESISTANCE is a challenging book: the text is dense and the sentences long, and the story's events are depicted with immense detail and a steady realism.

On a dark, snowy night a huge truck carrying a stuffed whale chugs into a provincial Hungarian town. People gather round, seemingly enchanted by the strange attraction. However, rumours quickly spread about its purpose for being there, and slowly but surely normal life spins into a night of chaos as local superstitions, paranoia, resentments and opportunism are inflamed.

The story focuses on three characters: Valuska (a naive free-spirit), Mr Eszter (a reclusive professor), and Mrs Eszter (a Machiavellian figure obsessed with gaining power), and it's these three portrayals that are the book's strongest aspect.

The story itself is a slow-burner: events aren't rushed or presented in an unnatural way, and a criticism might be that things are drawn out a little too much at times, especially in the middle. That said, there is no doubt that the intricacy of the telling, plus the overall dark realism, has a captivating quality and an epic feel.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 1 Dec. 1999
Format: Paperback
Laszlo Krasznahorkai, highly regarded in Germany (his novel The General Theseus won Best Book of the Year there), is almost unknown in English-speaking countries. Yet the Melancholy of Resistance should be the book to bring this Hungarian author critical attention and praise. Krasznahorkai, who has also worked with the director Bela Tarr on the films Satan Tango and Damnation, is a meditative writer with an almost Victorian taste for lengthy sentences. He is concerned with cities in decay and lives in decline, finding in these evanescent moments of beauty. The novel's story is simple: a truck carrying a stuffed whale arrives in a small town, pandemonium ensues. There's a distinct whiff of Kafka to the carcass itself, which remains almost unseen, cared for by an enigmatic staff among whom is a prince who just might be the devil. But it is his humane portraits of Valuska, treated by others as the village idiot and his mentor, Eszter, the reclusive musicologist, which provide the heart of this novel. Funny, mysterious, and unrelenting, The Melancholy of Resistance is one of the best books out this year.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Dick Johnson on 14 July 2012
Format: Paperback
Imagine a noir story with words to amuse an etymologist; sentences the length of paragraphs; paragraphs the length of very long chapters and a three-hundred page book with just a few chapters. Further, set this dark novel in Eastern Europe with the threat of the symbolic huge neighbor to the east looking over everything. And, there is a whale.

Next, add in a dozen or so characters (with hundreds of extras) who are stereotypes of stereotypes. Put these into a setting that shows us a few city blocks of a seemingly larger city. Let them play roles that will properly show off their stereotypical natures and the rest is, as is said, "history". Not to mention the whale.

Symbolism is rampant. The sun is ashamed to show itself. Even nice people aren't necessarily nice, should one show up. We follow people doing what people do. They just normally don't do so with such large consequences. Including the whale.

This is a difficult book to read and I would not recommend it to anyone as an introduction to either post-modern or Eastern European literature., but there are many, many humorous moments in this heavy story to lighten things, if only for a moment. I don't remember whether the whale had any funny lines.
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