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The Door [Hardcover]

Magda Szabo , Stefan Draughon
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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Book Description

February 15, 1995 0880333049 978-0880333047 0

This 1987 Hungarian novel in the modernist tradition combines emotionality and literary quality in the story of two women, a writer and her housekeeper.

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Editorial Reviews


"The Door has been waiting for us for more than sixteen years. It has just opened" Livres Hebdo "In The Door, Hungary's most famous living author, Magda Szabo, gives a rare insight into the precarious relationship between the "lady writer" and her woman who does...The Door is a valuable document of a vital relationship." -- Elena Seymenliyska Guardian "'Szabo manages to conjure up as many cliffhangers as an Indiana Jones film. The Door is a triumph. Clever, moving, frightening, it deserves to be a bestseller'" -- Tibor Fischer Daily Telegraph "'No brief summary can do justice to the intelligence and moral complexity of this novel. I picked it up without expectation. I read it with gathering intensity, and a swelling admiration. I finished it, and straightaway started to read it again. It is unusual, original and utterly compelling'" Scotsman --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Hungarian

Product Details

  • Series: East European Monographs (Book 407)
  • Hardcover: 280 pages
  • Publisher: East European Monographs (February 15, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0880333049
  • ISBN-13: 978-0880333047
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 6.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,109,254 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dramatic & charismatic November 9, 2005
By Lili_K
At a first glance the novel seems to be simple: the book is about the relationship between two women: an author and her housekeeper. However, if you stuck strictly to this statement, you'd be oversimplifying the book and what it is about. As you go through the pages events of the past in flashes come to the surface, making the end shocking and dramatic.

Magda Szabo is one of the most charismatic writers of our time: her books are highly popular in Hungary and abroad. Her books have been translated into more than 20 languages.

Her charisma can be strongly felt in her novels as well. Reading her books is like putting the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle together: at the end all pieces come to their place and the reader is left breathless with the dramatic and cruel fate the characters are/were bound to face. It is fate looming over people, unavoidable in Szabo's books, arising from the circumstances and personality of the characters.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Something New February 18, 2007
Who would have thought that a story about an old woman who dies would be interesting? Old women die all the time. And I certainly never would have believed that the life of an orderly writer in front of her typewriter would hold anyone's attention ... especially mine. But I was flipping the pages of this novel faster than I would any Kootz book and crying over the tragedies of this character as much as any of Charlotte Bronte's.

There may be nothing new under the sun, including plots and characters, but good writing can make something old something powerful--and excellent fiction opens our eyes so we see reality truthfully.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The little lady downstairs February 11, 2004
This is a story that could be the story of anyone's forgotten grandmother. And much more besides. Set in Budapest, Magda Szabo's writer-narrator tells us, in a style that literally pours itself out on the page and won't let go of the reader, of her relationship with the little lady downstairs, the old concierge who started out as her housekeeper and ended up ruling her life. It is a bewildering tale of love-hate relationships, set against a vague backcloth of communist Hungary and the aftermath of world war II; it is also an analysis of guilt and an apology for tolerance of people's varied beliefs, and the final scenes make one wonder if the narrator isn't apologising for her country and not only herself.
For once also, here is a novel which accords an important place to the role of animals in our lives. Viola, the dog, has an important part to play, and the detailed and profound observation of animal behaviour is perhaps one of the most remarkable aspects of the book.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An internal door May 18, 2008
The Door by Magda Szabo is a detailed, intimate account of a relationship between two women. Paradoxically, it was the distance between them that generated the intimacy. Presented with behaviour and attitudes she could not identify with or recognise, a young writer tries to analyse her maid's motives, to rationalise her strangeness, to explain her unconventional behaviour.

It is clear from the start that the new maid, Emerence, has had a fundamentally different kind of life from her employer. And, as the relationship develops, details of that life are slowly unearthed to be shared. Memories and reflections unfold like a gently opening flower, each miniscule change adding to what has gone before. Eventually these individually small incremental revelations complete a picture of a life that even the imagination of a writer could not have created.

The Door is rarely a vivid book. Its tone and style are always measured. Details are picked apart and analysed, their consequences examined under a microscope that seeks out motive, honesty and guilt. Paradoxically - perhaps as a consequence of this concentration on the psychological - there is no greats sense of place or setting. In fact, so deeply do the characters enter into the psychological aspects of their lives that they sometimes appear to have their gaze directed inwards on themselves. And eventually, an enduring reaction to the book is its constant consciousness of the distance between people, despite both intimacy and proximity.

The book's style is quite dense. There is very little dialogue, and what is offered is often stunted and awkward. Magda Szabo employs longs long paragraphs, whose content often meanders through different strands of the character's emotions.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A door that opens your eyes July 26, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is one of the most beautiful books I have read. I couldn't put it down. So well written that you feel you have entered another world through 'The Door'
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