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The Melancholy of Resistance (New Directions Paperbook) Paperback – June 17, 2002


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Product Details

  • Series: New Directions Paperbook
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: New Directions (June 17, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0811215040
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811215046
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #123,037 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“The universality of its vision rivals that of Gogol's Dead Souls.” (W. G. Sebald)

“An inexorable, visionary book by the contemporary Hungarian master of apocalypse who inspires comparison with Gogol and Melville.” (Susan Sontag)

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Hungarian --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

54 of 59 people found the following review helpful By A. B. Cost on August 14, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Hungarian author uses deep metaphor to set quest for meaning in a world of political struggle, chaos, and greed - Difficult and intensely rewarding. Definitely not an easy read. The basic story is of a small contemporary Hungarian town. Work is scarce and society is disintegrating, when a strange circus touting the world's greatest whale arrives and draws a large and dangerous crowd of unemployed men. This is the book that the Hungarian film, the 'Werkemeister's Harmonies' was based upon. While that was an extraordinary movie, the book surpasses it in depth and nuance.
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38 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Eileen Corder on August 7, 2008
Format: Paperback
The Melancholy of Resistance doesn't so much clear up the mystery of Bela Tarr's haunting film Werckmeister Harmonies, as much as add to the complexity of the ideas explored in both. For a book and film to echo each other in such an enigmatic way is striking. While the film is frightening and devastating on a gut level, The Melancholy of Resistance is, on an intellectual level, more frightening and utterly devastating...until the end, the very end, the last two pages in fact. And they aren't a sleight of hand magic or clever plot twist, but a cold look at plain facts as if someone turned on the light suddenly and no ghosts were there. The ending certainly qualifies the book but voids nothing at all. If anything, it prompts a second reading.

The novel is written from four different points of view, that of Janos Valuska, Mrs. Plauf (Janos's mother), Eszter and Mrs. Eszter (Aunt Tunde), and skirts themes of chaos/order, Nazism, Sovietism, atheism, and their teeter-totter through history. Krasznahorkai's faulknerian sentences are like a wind at the back of a raging fire, yet there are so many conversational, almost comic asides (and maybe this is due in some part to the translation) that the effect is like being in a speeding car. Very enjoyable if you don't drive over the cliff.
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30 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Grigory's Girl on October 27, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is the book that is the basis for Bela Tarr's brilliant film Werckmeister Harmonies. The script for the film was co-written by the author, Laszlo Krasznahorkai, and the book is the equal of the film, and also compliments it. Laszlo and Bela Tarr have a very unique relationship, in that all of Bela's later films were co-written by Laszlo, and some were based on his novels (like the epic Satantango). This book is typed as if it were one epic sentence (with a few breaths here and there), conjuring up language and a scope worthy of Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy (2 of my favorite writers). There is an amazing sense of dread and drifting in the cosmos contained in these pages (and in the film as well). In most modern novels, you don't really get that sense of the epic and the scope associated with works like this. Laszlo Krasznahorkai is one of my favorite modern authors, and I hope that more of his work becomes available here.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Steiner VINE VOICE on October 29, 2011
Format: Paperback
A fantastical nightmare of a book. Krasznahorkai has conjured an allegorical world of deceit, anarchy, and nascent fascism. This is the story of a small and deteriorating village in Hungary which is visited by a circus, a circus which purports to have the world's largest whale. Soon, the floodgates of chaos are opened, and Krasznahorkai discloses a world dominated by fear and violence. This is a novel of the political and literary spectacle-it is haunted by such classical tropes as the Leviathan, the naďve and goodhearted simpleton, and terror of the crowd. The prose flows in extended and spiraling sentences reminiscent of Bernhard. It belongs to a brief list of the most impressive and serious of modern novels. Not too be missed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By PuroShaggy on April 7, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"The Melancholy of Resistance" is a powerful, haunting novel that leaves the reader with more questions than it does answers.
Set in a small, crumbling Hungarian town, the action centers around the arrival of a travelling circus and the intimidatingly giant whale that the circus carries in tow. For the townspeople, the circus brings nothing but doubt and confusion. Is its arrival, coupled with the physical decay of the town (water tower collapses, lights mysteriously extinguish), a sign of the Apocalypse? Is the Prince, a deformed yet magnetic dwarf who travels with the circus, part of the attraction or is he, as some attest, urging the people to revolt?
Constructed in a bold style that adds to the overall weight of the novel (no line breaks- the book is one long paragraph with a handful of chapter breaks), "The Melancholy of Resistance" repulses on the surface but draws the reader in with its eloquent writing and slightly surrealistic tone. The characters are vibrant and alive- Valuska, the town idiot who may be the moral center of the novel; Mr. Eszter, the eccentric recluse obsessed with musical purity; and Mrs. Eszter, the power-seeking socialite who isn't above using her sexuality to achieve her goals. As these three tackle the existential meaning of the circus' arrival, events spiral out-of-control and everything they think is real is cast into doubt.
Laszlo Krasznahorkai's first novel, this book will linger in the readers' conscious long after the last page is read.
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