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on September 24, 2017
The Melancholy of Resistance draws me into mind after mind. It seems, as I read, that I am thinking the characters' and narrator's thoughts. I am most drawn to Mr. Eszter and Valuska--but the others seem real too from the inside. Even Mrs. Eszter becomes intuitive and visceral. This little town, unprepared for the visiting circus and the havoc that follows from it, contains a panoply of mental rhythms and breaks, peaks and falls. Things happen and break, and the thoughts are among them, as real and fragile as the rest. Some passages make me laugh no matter where I am; others wrap me up; and others leave me with sadness. Here's a passage that does all three (from p. 116):

"He [Eszter] did not doubt for a moment that he was dealing not merely with technical matters but with issues of 'serious philosophical import', but it was only as he pondered more deeply that he realized that in progressing from 'Frachberger's tiny downward adjustment of the pure fifth' through his passionate researches into tonality he had arrived at an unavoidable crisis of faith where he had to ask himself whether that system of harmony to which all works of genius with their clear and absolute authority referred and on which he, who could certainly not be accused of harbouring illusions, had based his hitherto unshaken convictions, existed at all."

I have found a new favorite writer. After reading The Last Wolf and this, I want to read and reread everything by Krasznahorkai that I can find. One day I hope to read his work in Hungarian. The tightly tuned yet wailing prose, the brilliant tangents and asides ("...who could certainly not be accused of harbouring illusions"), and the action-packed introspection make me wake up in the middle of the night, turn on the light, and read. In the words of Valuska, "we hardly realize the extraordinary events to which we are witness."
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on August 12, 2017
This is the densest work of fiction I've ever read, and is very absorbing. The translation is a remarkable accomplishment.
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on February 16, 2016
This is a strange and interesting book. The writing is difficult throughout as it consists of one very long sentence followed by another and another and so on for the entire book. It creates the desired effect, I think, which is one of dreamlike intensity. About half way through there are lengthy passages of great intelligence that are beautiful to read and reread. The ending is effective and speaks its message clearly and with force. Not a book for everyone, but definitely worth reading. I liked it a lot.
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on January 7, 2017
The first novel I have read by an author from Hungary. All sentences are extremely long (150 words) . Paragraphs as well are long going for 20 or 30 pages. But the style is very readable and evokes a strange atmosphere of doom and gloom, perhaps a bit Kafkaesque. I will be looking for more translations of Kraznahorkai's works.
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on May 28, 2017
Sublimely funny, in parts, though occasionally tedious. The satire echoes a confined Moby Dick, transplanted to an inland Hungarian town, brilliantly mocking the absurdity of the quest for bourgeois conformity.
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on August 5, 2017
A bit of a slog, but worth it.
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on March 19, 2017
Interesting however drawn out too detailed.
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on April 7, 2013
"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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on July 24, 2015
Totally engrossing, if you can remember the beginning of a sentence which may be as long as the entire page. Rewarding and odd.
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VINE VOICEon April 10, 2012
Imagine a noir story with words to amuse an etymologist; sentences the length of paragraphs; paragraphs the length of very long chapters and a three-hundred page book with just a few chapters. Further, set this dark novel in Eastern Europe with the threat of the symbolic huge neighbor to the east looking over everything. And, there is a whale.

Next, add in a dozen or so characters (with hundreds of extras) who are stereotypes of stereotypes. Put these into a setting that shows us a few city blocks of a seemingly larger city. Let them play roles that will properly show off their stereotypical natures and the rest is, as is said, "history". Not to mention the whale.

Symbolism is rampant. The sun is ashamed to show itself. Even nice people aren't necessarily nice, should one show up. We follow people doing what people do. They just normally don't do so with such large consequences. Including the whale.

This is a difficult book to read and I would not recommend it to anyone as an introduction to either post-modern or Eastern European literature., but there are many, many humorous moments in this heavy story to lighten things, if only for a moment. I don't remember if the whale had any funny lines.
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