- Series: Cahiers (Book 14)
- Paperback: 40 pages
- Publisher: Sylph Editions; 2 edition (October 15, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0956509215
- ISBN-13: 978-0956509215
- Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.3 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 5 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 6 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,687,880 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Animalinside (Cahiers) 2nd Edition
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All the paintings feature one or more hound-like beasts in stark silhouette, most seemingly lunging forward (but without forelegs to land on) or on their hindquarters seemingly howling. They collectively evoke a primal animalism. Krasznahorkai construes and concentrates that animalism into a feral, malevolent, vengeful, and vicious brew. It is a vision of the world akin to that of the Book of Revelations. The writing consists of short phrases strung together into long, internally repetitious, clangorous sentences. Here is an excerpt:
"* * * my little master, give me my little food-dish here, give me my dinner here, and I ask you kindly, don't do this again to me, and every evening when it's dinner time give me my little food-dish here, and put into it, I ask you kindly, my dinner, because when it is dinner-time I have to eat dinner, and it has to be like that every day and every week and every month and every year, until the point when I'm all grown up and then your little food-dish won't be needed any more, because then I will rip away your ears, because then I will tear off your nose, because then I will burn out your eyes, and I will bite your chin apart, I will slash your whole head to bits then and every year I will devour a virgin from Athens, and from that point on your dinner won't be needed any more."
Krasznahorkai is much admired by some aficionados of contemporary European literature. His first novel to be translated into English, "The Melancholy of Resistance," was praised by, among others, W.G. Sebald and Susan Sontag. Perhaps ANIMALINSIDE is an aberration, then, but to me it is little more than dreck. (Colm Tóibín, who wrote a laudatory introduction, obviously disagrees.) The second star is due to Neumann's paintings and the overall quality of production of this limited edition.
* * * * *
Addendum, dated 4 July 2011: My review is attracting "not helpful" votes. I would like to know why. Anonymously voting "not helpful" is both facile and, well, not helpful. A part of me can't help but view the negative votes as knee-jerk reactions from those for whom Krasznahorkai is some sort of literary god and, hence, any critical comment is blasphemy. Please prove otherwise. If you think my review is not helpful, by all means register your displeasure, but please also tell me why in a comment. Let's have some dialogue, and just maybe you will enlighten me.
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. Even their assertions of antagonism are hopeful but futile gestures against solipsistic nightmares. That is not the case in Krasznahorkai. I do not think it ever is. His characters and voices are always struggling within a larger cosmos of forces and others.
I'm a great fan of Krasznahorkai's work. He may not be a god to me, but he's one of the best writers around. Animalinside may be pretty elusive to someone starting cold with Krasznahorkai; The Melancholy of Resistance, which was the basis of Bela Tarr's amazing film The Werckmeister Harmonies, offers a more grounded point of entry. But the book is gorgeous and short, and it makes itself strongly felt even as it remains oblique.