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The Melancholy of Resistance Paperback – 20 Sep 2013

4.4 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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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: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 343,954 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

The universality of its vision rivals that of Gogol's Dead Souls. --W. G. Sebald

Ingeniously composed and fascinating. "

Lifts the reader along in lunar leaps and bounds. "

An inexorable, visionary book by the contemporary Hungarian master of apocalypse who inspires comparison with Gogol and Melville.--Susan Sontag

In Krasznahorkai s deft hands, the effect is a layered, freewheeling, amazingly persuasive tour of living human consciousness, in varied states of self-awareness.--Chris Lehmann"

Krasznahorkai's artistry merits serious notice. May further translations grant him the wider notice he deserves among English-speaking readers.

Ingeniously composed and fascinating.

The Melancholy of Resistance is a slow lava flow of narrative, a vast black river of type. --George Szirtes

Lifts the reader along in lunar leaps and bounds.

Book Description

One of László Krasznahorkai's finest novels available in stunning redesigned paperback --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a great novel. Mind you, it's not easy to read.
The narration takes you into a surreal world, a nightmare version of a dusty town. The narration is flowing in and out of the minds of the dreamlike characters. This novel is about impending changes and the fears relating to these changes. It's especially interesting to read this now with the world in such a state of economical and social upheaval.
The characters are all somewhat existing on their margins, their fears, feelings are so much like what we probably have in the bottom of our souls; it sometimes leaves me speechless.
You shouldn't be looking for symbols, etc in this text, it's more complex than that, the stuffed whale, the square with the touts are all images, feelings from somewhere very primordial, you have to feel this novel.
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