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The Rebels Paperback – 7 Nov 2008


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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Picador (7 Nov 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330454552
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330454551
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 1.8 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 270,170 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'A darkly comic coming-of-age story.' -- Evening Standard

'A frightening exploration of powerlessness and betrayal... [Szirtes's translation] deftly enacts the confusion that lies at the novel's heart.'
-- The Daily Telegraph

'An eve-of-apocalypse mood that fuses lyrical intensity - well caught by translator George Szirtes - with jolting glimpses of depravity.'
-- The Independent

'An extraordinary, unnerving tragedy.' (4/5 stars) -- Independent on Sunday

'The Rebels is a wonderfully realised portrait of energy and ennui, and its ending strikes a fine, resonant note.'
-- Guardian

'The atmosphere of the town steals the show - a miasma of evil and moral corruption brought to life.' -- The Sunday Times

`This Hungarian novelist had a posthumous bestseller...here is another elegantly written short work which packs as great a punch' -- Sunday Telegraph

Review

'A powerful tale of innocence lost, [Márai] writes with a prescience that seems almost otherworldly.'

'A darkly comic coming-of-age story.'

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Ralph Blumenau TOP 500 REVIEWER on 14 Nov 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It is the early summer of 1918 near the end of the First World War. A pretty town in the Hungarian part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire is far away from the battle front, but the war, now obviously being lost, seeps into it. Mutilated soldiers return home. And boys who have just finished school are expecting to be called up and sent to fight. Four of them have formed a close-knit gang, who spend their last weeks desperately clinging to what is left of their adolescence and in rebellion against the adult world. They create for themselves a `reality' which is separate from the `reality' of the outside world - sometimes they do it by competing with each other in telling lies about themselves, sometimes in telling truths. One form the rebellion takes is stealing money from their families on a large scale - not because they particularly want the articles they buy with it, but more as a gesture of defiance. Half in and half out of this little group are a couple of adults. One is the elder brother of one of the four who has returned from the war as a one-armed invalid. The other is an actor who, with professional skill, finds just the right tone with the young people, which to some extent disarms their suspicions of him as an adult.

The emotions of the four and the relationships between them are described with subtlety and elegance, with a powerful and unexpected twist at the end. We see the adults through the eyes of the boys: there are very strong visual images of them. Sometimes the description of the town's inhabitants reminded me of Dylan Thomas' Llareggub - not least in one passage when the town is bathed in moonlight. Often there are strong evocations of smell.
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Format: Paperback
Sándor Márai, 1900-1989, was a Hungarian poet, journalist and diarist who, profoundly anti-Fascist and anti-Communist, went into self-imposed exile in 1948 and eventually committed suicide in California. This book was originally published in 1930 and has been translated by the Anglo-Hungarian poet, George Szirtes.

About 60 of Márai’s books await an English translation and his reputation, that declined deeply during his exile, has climbed since the overthrow of Communism in Hungary, that occurred the same year as his death.

‘The Rebels’ is the first part of the author’s six-book saga about the Garren family but can be read as a stand-alone book. It is concerned with the events over two days in a remote location in the Hungary of the Dual Monarchy. It is May 1918 and addresses the activities of four teenage classmates, Ábel, Béla, Tibor and Ernö, who have formed a gang, together with 20-year old Lajos, Béla’s brother who has lost an arm in the fighting [and who is coldly called ‘the one-armed one’ by the author]. They are under the spell of the much older actor-cum-dancer, Amadé Volpay, whom Márai makes incredibly sinister. The boys avidly absorb his experiences of life, ‘For a man to attain immortality it is necessary that he first survive.’

Bored with life and wanting to forget that, when they finish school they will be called up to join brothers and fathers on the front line [already their class had declined from 50 to 17], they set out to steal money and items from their parents, neighbours and traders, not because they need them but simply to carry out the thefts.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
passionate young men discovering adulthood while the great war rages in the background. Remember those heated philosophical debates and daring games that you could only have as a young man? This is those.
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3 of 7 people found the following review helpful By D K Bailey on 15 Feb 2009
Format: Paperback
I bought this book after reading the excellent 'Embers'. However, i was left bitterly disappointed. I felt no real connection with the characters and the book doesn't really gather any pace or develop any story until well over half way through the book. Its main redeeming feature is the writin style of the author which was at the same excellent level as in other works. Perhaps the problem was i was constantly contrasting the book with Embers. In spite of this i never actually cared what happened to the characters.
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2 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Julaka on 13 Sep 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The author explores 4 possibly unintended friends on the verge of manhood living at a very difficult time in the history of their country. An average human drama with not much going for it. Throughout the read I was anxious 'for something to happen'. That something never did. These are all forgettable characters in a forgettable story. 3 weeks after reading this book- I can't even remember the names of the main characters- just goes to show you.
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