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AnimalInside (The Cahiers) Paperback – June 16, 2011

4.2 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews
Book 14 of 23 in the Cahier Series

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Editorial Reviews


“The contemporary Hungarian master of the Apocalypse who inspires comparison to Gogol and Melville.” (Susan Sontag)

“Little more than 40 pages long, László Krasznahorkai’s pamphlet-like, multi-media collaboration with the painter Max Neumann is one of the most beautifully produced works of literature this year.” (Scott Esposito - The National)

“Intense and uncompromising.” (W. G. Sebald)

About the Author

László Krasznahorkai was born in Gyula, Hungary in 1954. He has won numerous international literary awards and his works have been translated into many languages.

The highly acclaimed German painter Max Neumann (born in 1949 in Saarbruck) lives in Berlin and exhibits his work around the world.

Ottilie Mulzet is a literary critic and translator of Hungarian. New Directions published her translation of Krasznahorkai’s Animalinside.

Product Details

  • Series: The Cahiers
  • Paperback: 48 pages
  • Publisher: New Directions; First Edition edition (June 16, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 081121916X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811219167
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,110,372 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
László Krasznahorkai is often compared to Thomas Bernhard and Samuel Beckett, likewise masters of the long, monologic sentence inside which the world seems to disappear. But Krasznahorkai's themes are not like those of Bernhard, who was a comedian of manners; nor is he like Beckett, who erased the world in order to dredge the self, and whose drive toward stasis and silence made him a kind of religious writer. Krasznahorkai is much more political, interested in the conflict between principles, and in the distortion that our ideals undergo when they rub up against reality. He is sometimes called an apocalyptic writer, but his apocalypse, being unrepresentable, never arrives. Instead his prose plays out the contradiction and doubling back that comes from trying to represent it anyway.

The creature that narrates "Animalinside" is a prophet haunted by incompletion: "for I have no other aspirations; just once, I said, just once to find where the end of a direction is, to go along a road." Max Neumann's illustrations of a leaping dog - likewise incomplete, missing its front legs - accompany a series of texts about cages, which the animal is outside and inside at once. Because it is entirely foreign, beyond any system of thought, it finds the very fabric of space to be a trap; it announces itself as a cosmic force, encompassing galaxies, but also as a hidden principle in the human mind; it is a servile pet begging for its dinner that also threatens to rip its master's face off - unless that threat is an uneasy joke. These winding contradictions play out what it means to be a spirit that, like Goethe's Mephistopheles, always denies; they also skirt unsealable cracks in society and in the self. Krasznahorkai's ability to suspend these elements over his long sentences, suggesting turn after turn while disclosing nothing in full, makes him one of the very finest writers we have.
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Format: Paperback
Animalinside is a formal experiment for Hungarian author Krasznahorkai. Krasznahorkai wrote a text to accompany a drawing by Max Neumann, and Neumann drew over a dozen more in response, and Krasznahorkai wrote a short text for each one. There's an obvious unity to it all: the pictures all feature the (usually) black silhouette of some sort of feral animal poised to jump, and the texts are all about some sort of beast or beasts, usually written in the first person singular or plural.

The beast is angry, but helpless. The beast rants about how he is beyond any constraint that can be put on him by thought or concept. He is unique and beyond comparison: "It is impossible to confuse me with anyone else." He is within you, caged in one picture, but he is struggling to break free. And so another of Krasznahorkai's conceptual contradictions emerges: the beast that is at once free beyond everything and yet trapped.

Is the beast railing at the infinite itself, the inadequacy of the concept of the infinite, or the representation of the infinite (as in this picture)? I'm not sure. This tension is the same one that occurred in Krasznahorkai's earlier From the North by Hill, from the South by Lake, from the West by Roads, from the East by River, which contained a book by a mad Frenchman ranting against Cantor's mathematical conception of infinity. Perhaps the idea is that the conception traps us while simultaneously facing us with its inadequacy, and this is unbearable because, as with the ideas of mortality and immortality, neither side is a conceivable solution.

Because the text is more rarefied and abstract than Kraznahorkai's other work, it seems to resemble Beckett at times. But Beckett never portrayed such a vicious antagonism. His personae always collapse into themselves.
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Format: Paperback
Sure, you could probably read the text of this on a Kindle or Nook. But you'd be missing everything, and I don't just mean the Neumann images. This book actually smells good! It feels good. It's a tactile experience that engages your eyes and other senses, while your brain tries to solve the mystery of who is the Animalinside.

First off, this is a novella that started with a Neumann painting that inspired Krasznahorai's text about a creature that defies easy description. After that, Neumann provided more images with the same dog-like beast, to inspire further chapters from the Hungarian author. Prefaced by Colm Toibin, who states that the author "stands closer to Kafka than to Beckett, but he is close to neither in his interest and delight in verbal pyrotechnics, in allowing the sheer energy of his long exciting sentences full sway."

The monster of the story, if indeed that is what it is, is trapped in a place where he is excluded and in pain. "...I don't even exist, I only howl, and howling is not identical with existence, on the contrary howling is despair, the horror of that instance of awakening when the condemned--myself--comes to realize that he has been excluded from existence and there is no way back..."

The words of the beast, shown in the images as a sort of fierce two-legged dog, are almost always horrifying...caged, it waits for release to wreak havoc and battle for kingship over a wasteland of earth. At lighter moments, though, it speaks almost in a panic over the search for its food dish, but the threats he makes about its loss are nothing adorable.

Much of the imagery and words confuse me...
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