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One of the Guardian Unlimited Books' top 10 literary blogs: "A home-grown treasure ... smart, serious analysis"

The Bookaholics' Guide to Book Blogs: "Mark Thwaite ... has a maverick, independent mind"

Friday 02 September 2005


Reviewing Nobel prize-winning Imre Kertész's Fatelessness, our Book of the Month, the Complete Review said:

Fatelessness, is a fine work, but -- unlike Kertész's later works -- ultimately not a truly remarkable one. Nevertheless, in laying the foundation for almost everything he wrote afterwards (and for understanding the man) it remains an essential text. It is good place to start on Kertész, but should be just that: the start. In moving from this book to his later works one moves from a simple, affecting story to true literature, from reality to art.

I differ, a little, in my thoughts on Kertész's debut: I did think it was "remarkable". It was powerfully restrained; György Köves, the Jewish teenage narrator has an authentic and compelling voice; and the ironic distance Kertész's builds through the György's naivety is chilling.

Kertész is very careful, via György, not to describe Buchenwald, where Kertész himself was imprisoned, as "hell". What does that - hell - mean? It is too metaphoriacal, too abstract. György simply describes what happened to him. He doesn't abstract - mythologise - the horror. And it is this device that gives the work its power.


Posted by Mark Thwaite

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Omens, after Alexander Pushkin

I rode to meet you: dreams
like living beings swarmed around me
and the moon on my right side
followed me, burning.

I rode back: everything changed.
My soul in love was sad
and the moon on my left side
trailed me without hope.

To such endless impressions
we poets give ourselves absolutely,
making, in silence, omen of mere event,
until the world reflects the deepest needs of the soul.

-- Louise Gluck
Averno (Carcanet Press)

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