There are lucky moments in our life when we open a book at the right moment, at a time when we ourselves are completely open to it, however complex it may be. When I first read this book, János Kodolányi’s I Am He, I was struck by its treatment of trust, faith, doubts, prejudices and searches, and I thought this was definitely a book of global interest. I contacted the writer’s daughter as well as a native translator of Hungarian into English, and decided to write a blog with the aim of finding a publisher. I think this book is becoming ever more topical in our world.
János Kodolányi (1899–1969) wrote this book (original title: Én vagyok) in 1950–51, as part of a cycle of works set in the ancient Middle East. In this novel Kodolányi rethinks and retells one of the most contradictory stories in the New Testament – the link between Jesus and Judas, the ‘God-man’ and the ‘traitor’, the sacred and the profane, the separation and union of the worlds of Heaven and Earth. The Yeshuah (Jesus) of I Am He is the ‘lost, secret Jesus’ with a mystical teaching, while Yehuda bar Shimon (Judas) is the archetype of a man enmeshed in the insecurity and materialistic interests of this world.
The book is a true gem, a “Hidden Treasure” from Eastern Europe. As literary historian Miklós Csűrös wrote, “Kodolányi places at the centre of the plot the connection between Yeshuah and Yehudah, but from the viewpoint of the traitor rather than the betrayed ‘Son of God’. Why and how could Yehudah have committed the sin which has for ever been linked to his name in the unforgiving consciousness of mankind? Kodolányi traces the course of events from what seems a fatal flaw of character, a misconception regarding the national interests and an appreciation of the situation influenced by what might today be called ‘misinformation’... The hero of the novel is a strange criminal: he is not condemned for infringement of the law but for the precise opposite – slavish adherence to regulations, gambling away the pulsing reality of life, and cowardly forfeiting the true, concrete chances of redemption.”
I especially recommend this book to those with an open, questioning mind, to people reaching their ‘midlife’ and also to those interested in travelling through mind and time; in history and/or religion.
Those interested – either in reading or in publishing the full version – are very much welcome to send a feedback or contact me through this blog.
Tags: János Kodolányi