Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Aimless Reading: The K's, Part 25 (László Krasznahorkai)

Krasznahorkai, László
The Melancholy of Resistance

Purchased at Talking Leaves...Books.

For my money, the greatest movie released during the first decade of the new millennium was "The Werckmeister Harmonies," directed by the great Béla Tarr. If you haven't seen it, the last ten years of your cinematic life have been a complete waste of time. See it.

'Werckmeister' is actually based on a section of this novel, and the screenplay was co-written by László Krasznahorkai. Krasznahorkai has collaborated on Tarr's most significant films, all of which are based on his novels, including "Damnation," "Sátántangó" and
"The Man from London."

"Sátántangó" is the other masterpiece among the films. It lasts close to nine hours. It's been available for about a year on DVD and is worth your time. We watched it over the course of three nights last winter. (Warning to cat lovers: there is a very disturbing scene, which lasts a good ten minutes, in which a child is very cruel to a cat).

That said, I liked the novel, though not as much as the film, and not as much as the other of his that has been translated into English, War & War, which will be the subject of tomorrow's entry. He's a brilliant sentence writer, as evidenced by the opening sentence copied below.

from The Melancholy of Resistance

Since the passenger train connecting the icebound estates of the southern lowlands, which extend from the banks of the Tisza almost as far as the foot of the Carpathians, had, despite the garbled explanations of a haplessly stumbling guard and the promises of the stationmaster rushing nervously on and off the platform, failed to arrive ('Well, squire, it seems to have disappeared into thin air again...' the guard shrugged, pulling a sour face), the only two serviceable old wooden seat coaches maintained for just such an 'emergency' were coupled to an obsolete and unreliable 424, used only as a last resort, and put to work, albeit a good hour and a half late, according to a timetable to which they were not bound and which was only an approximation anyway, so that the locals who were waiting in vain for the eastbound service, and had accepted its delay with what appeared to be a combination of indifference and helpless resignation, might eventually arrive at their destination some fifty kilometres further along the branch line.

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