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Satantango Hardcover – March 5, 2012

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Satantango + The Melancholy of Resistance (New Directions Paperbook) + War & War (New Directions Paperbook)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: New Directions; 1 Tra edition (March 5, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0811217345
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811217347
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.1 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #108,962 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Bookforum

A bleakly absurdist, voluptuously written saga of abject disintegration on the muddy nowheresville of the Hungarian puszta, Satantango had a sardonic prescience. Supposedly structured on the forward-backward steps of the tango, the novel glides from one consciousness to another, ultimately revealed as a kind of Mobius strip. —J. Hoberman


“Like something far down the periodic table of elements, Krasznahorkai’s sentences are strange, elusive, frighteningly radioactive. They seek to replicate the entropic whirl of consciousness itself and, in the case of Eszter, to stop its “onward rush” entirely.” (Jacob Silverman - New York Times Book Review)

“The excitement of Krasznahorkai’s writing is that he has come up with his own original forms — and one of the most haunting is his first, Satantango. There’s nothing else like it in contemporary literature.” (Adam Thirwell - The New York Review of Books)

“He is obsessed as much with the extremes of language as he is with the extremes of thought, with the very limits of people and systems in a world gone mad — and it is hard not to be compelled by the haunting clarity of his vision.” (Adam Levy - The Millions)

“What prevents Satantango from devolving into a mere exercise in clever derivation, however, is Krasznahorkai’s fervent mission to thoroughly mine the mysteriousness, and potential miraculousness, of a seemingly corrupt physical reality. His wry, snake-like sentences produce—or unspool—layer upon layer of psychological insight, metaphysical revelation, and macroscopic historical perspective.” (The L Magazine)

“Krasznahorkai produces novels that are riveting in their sinewy momentum and deeply engaging in the utter humanity of their vision.” (Dublin Review of Books)

“His prose is formed like a fractal: self-similar patterns where every sentence exceeds its topological dimensions to become a microcosm of the entire work. We definitely hear Beckett in him.” (Full Stop Magazine)

“Think of Satantango, then, as an Eastern European blues album that looks to affirm the coarse texture of life rather than auto-tune it into something smoother or more amendable to wish fulfillment.” (Salon)

“On occasion, Krasznahorkai's sentences seem to swell and deflate; each clause seems to twist in its own direction. His sentences are, by turns, lovely, brutal, bombastic, ironic, and precise.” (Bookslut)

“Krasznahorkai's sentences are snaky, circuitous things, near-endless strings of clauses and commas that through reversals, hesitations, hard turns and meandering asides come to embody time itself, to stretch it and condense it, to reveal its cruel materiality, the way it at once traps us and offers, always deceptively, to release us from its grasp, somewhere out there after the last comma and the final period: after syntax, after words.” (The Nation)

“All this literary material binds us to the writer as accomplices in his vision. We are somehow altered by having seen the characters and their world along with him, while we read and he writes.” (Words Without Borders)

“Linguistically [Satantango] is a stunning novel, but it's tough going, an hours-long slog through mud and meaninglessness and superstition that will leave an indelible mark on anyone who gets through it.” (Telegraph)

“A writer without comparison, László Krasznahorkai plunges into the subconscious where this moral battle takes place, and projects it into a mythical, mysterious, and irresistible work of post-modern fiction, a novel certain to hold a high rank in the canon of Eastern European literature.” (The Coffin Factory)

“Krasznahorkai is a poet of dilapidation, of everything that exists on the point of not-existence.” (The Independent)

“László Krasznahorkai’s novel Satantango is an argument for the vitality of translation. It is bold, dense, difficult, and utterly unforgettable.” (The Daily Beast)

“Utterly absorbing–it dramatises with great invention the parching of the human imagination and wrings an almost holy grandeur from a tale of provincial petulance.” (New Statesman)

“His textual ambiguities make any concrete reading of Satantango nearly impossible, and we are put in the same befuddled, liminal state of mind as the fictional residents themselves: missing the thing by waiting for it.” (Los Angeles Review of Books)

“Whether he's inside the minds and machinations of his characters' scheming heads, tramping through the muddy streets from one ruined destination to another, or speculating on the value of existence under such Godless conditions, Krasznahorkai proves himself to be capable of bringing anything to life, Satantango's pages are teeming with it.” (Critical Mob)

“The serpentine motion that is neither progress nor repetition, the forward and backward steps of the 'tango' explicitly structure Satantango.” (The Quarterly Review)

“I love Krasznahorkai’s books. His long, meandering sentences enchant me, and even if his universe appears gloomy, we always experience that transcendence which to Nietzsche represented metaphysical consolation.” (Imre Kertesz)

“Krasznahorkai is the contemporary Hungarian master of the apocalypse who inspires comparisons with Gogol and Melville.” (Susan Sontag)

“The universality of his vision rivals that of Dead Souls and far surpasses all the lesser concerns of contemporary writing.” (W. G. Sebald)

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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See all 20 customer reviews
Only Bernhard's Correction bears any real resemblance to Krasznahorkai's work.
David Auerbach
There are those who will hang on forever in a hope that someone will somehow make things like they used to be.
Dick Johnson
When I first started reading this book, I thought about quitting--even took two weeks off from the reading.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

50 of 54 people found the following review helpful By David Auerbach on March 23, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'll start by confessing that I have written on Krasznahorkai for years and on the basis of The Melancholy of Resistance and his other books, I consider him one of the greatest contemporary writers.

Satantango was Krasznahorkai's first novel, published in 1985 but only translated now into English. I've read Satantango in French but I don't know Hungarian, so I can only say that Szirtes seems to have done as wonderful a job here as he did with Melancholy.

Satantango is the story of a tiny rural Hungarian village and its miserable, static inhabitants. A drunk doctor, a barman, farmers, and a few others have affairs and go about their lives. A certain tragedy strikes, and simultaneously a (very) false prophet named Irimias appears to play havoc in the tragedy's aftermath. It is a simple story, made complex by a precise, nightmarish build-up of small, unsettling details and destabilizing loops of prose that makes you feel like the very basis of reality is falling apart, reflecting the condition of the villagers.

The prose is thick and miasmic, though not as labyrinthine as Krasznahorkai's subsequent work. There is more acute cruelty in this book, in contrast to the sublime chaos that takes over in Melancholy of Resistance. Here is the doctor sitting by his window, watching the others:

"He had had to amass and arrange, in the most serviceable positions possible, the objects indispensable for eating, drinking, smoking, diary-writing, reading and countless other trifling tasks, and even had to renounce allowing the occasional error to go unpunished out of self-indulgence pure and simple."

Those who have a great affection for other voices of chaos and fracture, like Kleist and Kafka and Beckett, should read Krasznahorkai. I would rank him among them.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Dick Johnson VINE VOICE on June 16, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on March 29, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Satantango, starts in some mouldering Hungarian hamlet, the home of the workers of a collective long since closed and stripped of anything of worth, and like the inhabitants of the hamlet forgotten by the outside world. In fact the only growth market appears to be rot and spiders, very little happens here. Within the first few pages we realise that the rot has spread to all and sundry, there is not a single character of worth, all are, to varying degrees, corrupt, paranoid and full of loathing whether of self or of their neighbours. We also learn that they are waiting for Irimias, who may or may not be Satan, not that this matters as these individuals are so deep into the morass of all that's bad about humanity, that Satan would be worried about contamination. The villagers wait at the inn for Irimias, who has been seen on the road heading their way with his sidekick Petrina, which is strange because Irimias, is supposed to be dead. Irimias has the ability to charm and mesmerise all to his way, even those who are deeply suspicious of him, still follow his bidding even parting with the collective's small pot of money. This leads to a series of events that breaks what little bonds they once held and violence erupts, although this is brief as all are so ensnared by Irimias machination, that they can see little else.

In a post,I read it stated that " I felt this book had a lot of central European mythology that has been brought to the modern age and also what makes myths..
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