by Steven Craig Hickman
THERE HE WAS, laughing, but in trying to laugh in a more abandoned manner he had become preoccupied with the question of whether there was any difference at all between the burden of futility on the one hand and the burden of scorn on the other as well as with what he was laughing about anyway, because the subject was, uniquely, everything, arising from an everything that was everywhere, and, what was more, if indeed it was everything, arising out of everywhere, it would be difficult enough to decide what it was at, arising out of what, and in any case it wouldn’t be full-hearted laughter, because futility and scorn were what continually oppressed him…
—László Krasznahorkai The Last Wolf & Herman
László Krasznahorkai was born on 5 January 1954, in Gyula, Hungary, to a lawyer and a social security administrator. He studied law and Hungarian language and literature at university, and, after some years as an editor, became a freelance writer. His first novel, Satantango (1985), pushed him to the centre of Hungarian literary life and is still his best known. He didn’t leave Communist Hungary until 1987, when he travelled to West Berlin for a fellowship – and he has lived in a number of countries since, but returning regularly to Hungary.
His main literary hero is, he says, Kafka: “I follow him always.”
Reading Krasznahorkai is like entering one of Kafka’s burrows and realizing there will never be an exit, that the darkness, the bleak walls of dampness, the hollows and interminable false passages leading nowhere is all there is: a labyrinth of endless futility and despair. And, yet, in the midst of this monstrous world of bleakness one begins to laugh, one understands that the deft markers of some strangeness and vision of life within the decay and rottenness harbors an infernal paradise full of something else, an excess: a life unbidden and away. To enter these bleak hollows is to know that life offers no hope, only the power of the mind to challenge itself and explore what is in excess of itself. Even in the most terrible corners of this blasted universe of death we find certain forms of contingent change, moments of clarity and brilliance that catch us off-guard and bring us not hope but rather that surprise we so long for of something new arising out of the pure negativity of all that is. This is what it is like to come upon the works of Krasznahorkai.
His first novel Satantango reviewed in the Guardian. Which it calls “brutal, relentless and so amazingly bleak that it’s often quite funny”. One might be reminded here of Kafka’s Castle where the protagonist wanders around a fortress world that has the flavor of an anti-gnostic gnosis in which nothing is ever revealed yet everything, every object hints at even darker regions below the threshold of our paranoid gaze. If Krasznahorkai is a parodist of strange ideas, a prophet not so much of those hidden recesses of a monstrous universe but of the openness of the human heart to the incompleteness surrounding it, then he is in actuality a gifted martyr of those broken worlds we all inhabit, a guide into the corrupted corridors of our decaying and unraveling universe. Another Stranger in a Strange Land seeking neither solace nor salvation, but rather the powers of mind over the universe of death surrounding it. Crafting words that break the vessels of meaning and bring forth light out of the decay of broken things. Bleak? Only if you do not know how to laugh.
Enter if you dare! His books on Amazon.com: here!