Are those swans? | László Krasznahorkai: novelist
May 16, 2012 1:41 PM   Subscribe

‘You will never go wrong anticipating doom in my books, any more than you’ll go wrong in anticipating doom in ordinary life’—László Krasznahorkai.

The acclaimed Hungarian writer László Krasznahorkai’s novel Satantango has recently been published in an English translation by George Szirtes. Satantango is Krasznahorkai’s first novel, but the third (after The Melancholy of Resistance and War & War: both likewise translated by Szirtes) to appear in English.

Patient filmgoers may be familiar with Béla Tarr’s 450-minute black-and-white movie version of this tale. Krasznahorkai and Tarr have collaborated on several other films, notably The Werckmeister Harmonies (based on ‘The Melancholy of Resistance’) and, most recently, The Turin Horse , reportedly Tarr’s final opus.
posted by misteraitch (7 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
I recently read that interview in The Millions and just got Satantango from the library. While my wife and daughter are gone for a week this summer, I'm hoping to get a good bottle of wine and watch the whole film in one day.
posted by perhapses at 2:52 PM on May 16, 2012

The Werckmeister Harmonies is a movie I try to watch every year. Even though I'm often turned off by Eastern European obvious metaphor movies, I really love it, especially for that first scene. It's very challenging, and I consider it a normal reaction to drift off while watching it, but I can never get it out of my head.
posted by Dmenet at 4:27 PM on May 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Is his first novel set on Phobos?
posted by JHarris at 5:11 PM on May 16, 2012

Based on just "The Melancholy of Resistance," I consider Krasznahorkai my favorite living writer. Thanks for featuring him here MrH!

I was all set to attend a live interview with him in NYC a couple years ago. It was cancelled, but I still remember the event title, probably also the title of a Slayer tour: "The Master of the Apocalypse." I think Susan Sontag had called him that in a blurb.
posted by ajourneyroundmyskull at 11:17 AM on May 18, 2012

I didn't like The Melancholy of Resistance. It felt like just misogyny (the woman who is afraid of sex is SPOILER ALERT DON'T READ raped to death and the woman who is sexually confident is destroyed (improbably) by her heart SPOILER OVER HERE whereas the male characters are "sympa" and some of the descriptions beautiful...but it's just Hobbes' Leviathan (read something very brief about it eg wikipedia if planning to read the book) made literal with a few references to Hungarian history that i didn't really get...:( I wish i did like it, misogyny doesn't ruin a book for me - the only other one is East of Eden, which is fairly crap anyway - Cannery Row is way better (misogyny is when a man hates women for something to do with sex, eg he hates that he can't stop lusting after them, but it's so deeply repressed that he's unaware of it himself and it comes out as irrational vitriol. I actually had the same experience re men as a fundamentalist Christian teenager, so i know whereof i speak, but there's no word for the reverse. I don't care about it, it's just tiresome that the person doesn't know what they're writing about. In books, there is always what it's about on the surface, and what it's about underneath, eg 'trying to escape my parents' influence' or 'being scared of dying and running away from this fear'. But if the author refuses to look it in the face, it ruins the book as you want to just shout "It's behind you! Get on with it!")
posted by maiamaia at 10:15 AM on May 28, 2012

Oh, and according to The Guardian, Bela Tarr is going to start a film school in Split, Croatia!!!!! Hopefully ill produce lots of Tarr and Svankmejer like MittelEuropean geniuses. There's supposed to be an amazing film school in Zlin, Czech Rep, founded by Tata of Tata Shoes to make adverts for them - he of the glass elevator lift office that moved to different floors of the factory - but i've never found it.
posted by maiamaia at 10:19 AM on May 28, 2012

maiamaia—The treatment of the female characters in The Melancholy of Resistance bothered me too, although I short-sightedly failed to notice the specific misogyny in the book over its general misanthropy until quite near the end of it. From what I recall of War & War, its main female characters don’t fare too well either… His books, I think, are an acquired taste anyway, but that is one aspect of them that I concede is particularly sour.
posted by misteraitch at 2:52 AM on May 29, 2012

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