Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Satantango - Laszlo Krasznahorkai, translated by George Szirtes

Today I'm reviewing George Szirtes' translation of Satantango - a brilliant novel by the Hungarian author Laszlo Krasznahorkai - over at Book Munch.

"Béla Tarr’s 1994 screen translation of Satantango opens with a long-shot of cattle standing indifferently in the rain, up to their hocks in mud, and then  - after an almost endless pause – closes in on the human beings who exist under the same sky, soaked by the same rain, immobilised by the same mud.  I’m a big fan of Béla Tarr (who also filmed one of Krasznahorkai’s later novels The Melancholy of Resistance) and was interested to see how the novel Satantango would relate to the film, but not being a Hungarian speaker, I’ve had to wait until now to find out. Apparently George Szirtes deliberately avoided the film while doing the translation to avoid cross-contamination. But I found that film and book carried on having a dialogue in my head as I read, and one illuminated the other in a very positive way.   In the opening sequences of both film and novel Futaki, woken by bells, listens to the rain from the warmth of Mrs Schmidt’s bed, and watches the dawn through the ‘mousehole’ of a window that provides a view of the derelict estate that is a product of the collapsing political system. And he sees himself ‘nailed to the cross of his own cradle and coffin’."

Read more here ...............

Satantango was published in the UK by Atlantic on May 1st

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