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Comment: Crisp, clean, unread paperback with light shelfwear to the covers and a publisher's mark to one edge - Nice!
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A Little Hungarian Pornography Paperback – October 29, 1997

ISBN-13: 978-0810115774 ISBN-10: 0810115778 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 216 pages
  • Publisher: Northwestern University Press; 1 edition (October 29, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810115778
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810115774
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.3 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,450,464 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Although presented as a novel, this book (completed in 1983) by acclaimed Hungarian author Esterhazy (Book of Hrabal) reads more like a series of journal entries, political jottings and reminiscences. But the fragments are linked by the use of pornography as a metaphor for yielding disgracefully to--and becoming complicit in--oppression. Lascivious acts are made to stand for cowardice, compromise and the mendacious quality of life in the era of Janos Kadar, Hungary's pro-Russian Communist leader. Images of the body, notably those of seductive, compliant or degraded women, occur frequently as Esterhazy juggles the languages of power (the officialspeak of the state and of those who comply with it) and freedom (sexuality and relief from the lies of words). Figures from Hungarian history--literary, political and mythical--make appearances and are occasionally explained in footnotes. At the end of the book, Esterhazy explains why he writes: ``In short, I write for pleasure, out of fear, for freedom and out of freedom.'' Perhaps that goes as far as anything can toward explaining this book, a strange, often provoking manifesto written with extreme indirection, as if the very idea of clarity itself were obscenely coercive and an affront to the idea of an unfettered self.

Copyright 1995 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

"Esterhazy writes memorably of an ugly, oppressed society in which the pornography of lies and deceits has made even normal human contact ambiguous." --New York Times Book Review


"Hungary's literary prodigy has done it again: with his imagination running wild, he has produced an audacious treatment of every taboo subject--and got away with it." --World Literature Today


"East European postmodernism at its best." --American Book Review

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By James Paris on March 22, 2001
Format: Hardcover
As a Hungarian-American, I was puzzled by this book. It attempts to show the tenor of life under Janos Kadar, who served as Magyar leader from 1956 until the fall of Soviet Communism in the late 1980s. Kadar walked a delicate tightrope between pleasing Khrushchev, Brezhnev, and Gorbachev -- and pleasing his people. Esterhazy depicts this period as an era of pornography: One appears willing to enjoy like the nubile beauties in a porno movie, but in reality one is appalled by the fact that one is being used.
The difficulty with a long extended metaphor is either that it breaks out of its shell and goes somewhere; or, in this case, it just spirals around and sputters out inconclusively.
At times, Esterhazy sounds like a Hungarian William Burroughs in THE NOVA EXPRESS. I would be curious to see how the original reads in Hungarian, because the rendition into English seems to always be just a bit unidiomatic. There are numerous English slang phrases that make it look as if the translator has a tin ear.
The only reason I rated this book a 3 is that every once in a while, it seems right on target, especially in the opening section. But, as in any book that contains no characters and no story, it slips out again. The Section entitled simply "?" seems particularly endless and painful, with its endless interrogatories.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 2, 2000
Format: Hardcover
The book is a part of a longer novel, it`s a pitty that the rest is not translated. It focuses on the discourse of sexuality and in the same time the communist rule in Hungary. I like it very much since it can speak about sex and communist mass murder in witty brilliant language! It is clear that what is at stake is not history, politics or private life but the style itself.
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