In advance of Imre Kertész’s first public appearance in Great Britain on 5 March at the Jewish Book Week, it seemed worth gathering together a handful of references that he has made to the English in various published works. This is mostly because they carry an amusingly equivocal edge, but they also highlight a few of the difficult choices translators sometimes face.
Imre Kertész was the topic of a panel discussion at a recent American Slavist conference in Toronto. A member of the audience expressed the opinion that to a committed American Jew like himself, Fatelessness is an artistically distinguished, even exquisite example of Jewish self-hate.
"The stuff of this novel is closer to an anthropological or ethical description – it is more attuned to answering the question 'what sort of a being is man?' And in answering this it will treat other people’s opinions and beliefs as simple raw material, just as a doctor who gives a person an anaesthetic and does not take into account their sensitivities in other walks of life or worry about their nakedness."
"The riot police come by bus with packed lunches, like a bunch of tourists from the countryside. After a quick city tour, they form a cordon, march down the Road of Revolution, and barricade Republic Square. Bobby-soxers pin flowers on their shields and offer them cakes. It gets smeared all over their visors."
The revolution in Belgrade was practically a carnival. Thousands of people demonstrated for months on end against the system, against stupidity and against winter. Imagine a party that no one wants to leave, even after several months and several beatings.
The 37th Hungarian Film Week takes place in Budapest between 30 January and 7 February 2006. The opening ceremony kicked off last night with the screening of a new film by István Szabó, director of Hungary’s only Oscar winning feature film Mephisto.