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Satantango Paperback – 4 Jul 2013

3.2 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Books; Main edition (4 July 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 184887765X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848877658
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 31,656 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Intoxicating and exhilarating, bleak yet beautiful, Satantango is a modern masterpiece that manages to speak both of its time and to transcend it altogether --Beth Jones, Sunday Telegraph


Regarded as a classic, Satantango is a monster of a novel: compact, cleverly constructed, often exhilarating, and possessed of a distinctive, compelling vision... It is brutal, relentless and so amazingly bleak that it's often quite funny. This is an obviously brilliant novel. Krasznahorkai is a visionary writer... The grandeur is clearly palpable. --Theo Tait, Guardian


This majestic translation finally gives us its inimitable, nightmarish pleasures at first hand --Sunday Times

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

I fell in love with the fierce, barbed intelligence in his sentences... Krasznahorkai is the kind of writer who at least once on every page finds a way of expressing something one has always sensed but never known, let alone been able to describe. --Nicole Krauss



Intoxicating and exhilarating, bleak yet beautiful, Satantango is a modern masterpiece that manages to speak both of its time and to transcend it altogether --Beth Jones, Sunday Telegraph



Regarded as a classic, Satantango is a monster of a novel: compact, cleverly constructed, often exhilarating, and possessed of a distinctive, compelling vision... It is brutal, relentless and so amazingly bleak that it's often quite funny. This is an obviously brilliant novel. Krasznahorkai is a visionary writer... The grandeur is clearly palpable. --Theo Tait, Guardian



This majestic translation finally gives us its inimitable, nightmarish pleasures at first hand. --Sunday Times

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.


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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Krasznahorkai's 1985 debut novel, which seems to have recently risen to the surface again, can stand comparison with some of the best of European literature.

Set for the most part on the last desolate remnants of a failed collective farm, after a locust-plagued summer, it's a hellish vision of impoverished lives that have lost their centre, drifted to a standstill and are now shrouded in little but mud and hopelessness and fuelled by little other than palinka liquor and cigarettes.

The novel focuses on ten or so characters still living - or rather, existing - on the farm, and two men, Irimiás and Petrina, who have previously left and are thought by the villagers to be dead. At the book's beginning, `not long before the mercilessly long autumn rains began to fall on the cracked and saline soil', the villagers seem finally to have come into money via a sale of livestock and are planning to use it to escape. Yet their prevaricating and squabbling and mutual distrust means they get nowhere. When introduced, Irimiás, a self-styled messianic figure in pointed yellow shoes, houndstooth coat and red tie ( based on a malevolent pig castrator the author knew), and Petrina, his jug-eared factotum, are seen to be employed by the state police as informants and involved in an unexplained `project'. These two shadowy men (`I know everything about you,' says the police captain, `...but...I am none the wiser for that') then make their way back to the village where their arrival is met with a mixture of fear and celebration. Needless to say, Irimiás's long-winded promises of rejuvenation, peace and plenty are not quite what they seem.
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Format: Hardcover
The residents of the "estate" are trying to brew some type of life out of the dregs of their small town. However, life seemingly left that area some time ago. There are those who will hang on forever in a hope that someone will somehow make things like they used to be. This is probably the case in other countries in real life as it is in the fictional one of the Hungary we read about in Satantango.

The same people tell the same stories over and over, even though others could tell the same stories and maybe do it better. Others go through the same routine motions each day/week. You can set your clock/calendar by their actions. Though they want things to change for the better, of course they don't want to be forced to change. To their credit, they lack that particular ability. Their contribution to the world is based on the way things "were" not on the way things "are".

But, salvation is on the way. A savior will come with the solution to their problems, with the cure to their disease, with their futures secured. Unless he is dead. Or was that just a rumor? Or perhaps it was both a rumor and the truth. He is coming, though. Right? Things will be better then. Right?

Unlike "stream of conscience" stories, he seems to write "stream of description" stories. His narrators have to include every possible word, or set of them, that will explain the thoughts and actions of the characters to the reader. It is like the person who breathlessly begins "let me tell you what happened" and minutes later still isn't done but has to stop to gasp in some air before continuing, and continuing, and .... (As in, "Pull up a seat. This may take a while.")

Thus, we enter the minds of the characters and not only hear their spoken words but also read their thoughts. All of them.
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Format: Hardcover
Béla Tarr's 1994 screen translation of Sátántangó [1994] [DVD] opens with a long-shot of cattle standing indifferently in the rain, up to their hocks in mud, and then - after an almost endless pause - closes in on the human beings who exist under the same sky, soaked by the same rain, immobilised by the same mud. I'm a big fan of Béla Tarr (who also filmed one of Krasznahorkai's later novels The Melancholy of Resistance) as Werckmeister Harmonies [DVD], and was interested to see how the novel Satantango would relate to the film, but not being a Hungarian speaker, I've had to wait until now to find out. Apparently George Szirtes deliberately avoided the film while doing the translation to avoid cross-contamination. But I found that film and book carried on having a dialogue in my head as I read, and one illuminated the other in a very positive way.

In the opening sequences of both film and novel Futaki, woken by bells, listens to the rain from the warmth of Mrs Schmidt's bed, and watches the dawn through the `mousehole' of a window that provides a view of the derelict estate that is a product of the collapsing political system. And he sees himself `nailed to the cross of his own cradle and coffin'.

The story is set on a derelict `estate' where all but a few of the workers have already moved on to other lives.
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