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In this essay, I interpret two Hungarian novels from the field of Holocaust literature concentrating upon the problems of representation. I argue that neither Kertész nor Márton can avoid facing the question whether the challenges of remembering and representation can be bound and reflected in a literary form. Past events are repeatedly narrated in present tense in both novels. For Márton, the fragments of narration do not constitute a story, and the invasion of imaginative elements provokes the conventional frames of depicting historical facts in an epistemological horizon. On the other hand, in Fateless storytelling emphasises the inconceivable character of the Holocaust, and Kertész's work sheds light on philosophical paradoxes beyond epistemology. In this sense these two novels prove to be different but connected forms of Holocaust literature.

  • L. Márton: op. cit., 49. The translation is almost impossible not only because of the difficult sentence structure but the play with words. In other contexts, the Hungarian word kár (damage) can be connected with the words kór (disease) and kor (age or epoch), which can be easily read as key-words of the novel.

  • Márton later admitted that the photos are real: "A lovak kihaltak. Márton Lászlóval beszélget Nagy Boglárka" (The horses are extinct), Jelenkor (2001/12), 1296-1298.

  • A short preliminary remark on László Márton, who is not well known in the English speaking world and whose works have not been translated into English extensively yet, might prove to be useful. He is a middle aged Hungarian writer who has already written more than ten books, mainly novels.

  • Without giving a complete list, I only refer to some of the more detailed criticisms: Péter Balassa: "A leírhatatlan pillantás" (Indescribable glance) in Törésfolyamatok (The widening of the cracks) (Budapest: Csokonai Kiadó, 2001), 89-96; István Margócsy: "Márton László: Árnyas főutca" (László Márton: Shadowy Main Street) 2000 (2001/2): 62-67; Gyula Rugási: "Háromezer összepréselt nap" (Three thousand compressed days), Holmi (2000/5), 603-609.

  • László Márton: Árnyas főutca (Shadowy main street) (Pécs: Jelenkor Kiadó, 1999), 7. (All of the translations are mine.)

  • For further bibliography see the monograph of Péter Szirák, Imre Kertész (Pozsony: Kalligram Kiadó, 2003).

  • Imre Kertész's works on the web: www.irodalmiakademia.hu

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  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous) SJR Quartile Score (2018): Q4
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Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous) Q4
Social Sciences (miscellaneous) Q4

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Hungarian Studies
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Hungarian Studies
Language English
French
German
Size B5
Year of
Foundation
1985
Volumes
per Year
1
Issues
per Year
2
Founder Nemzetközi Magyarságtudományi Társaság -- International Association for Hungarian Studies
Founder's
Address
H-1097 Budapest, Tóth Kálmán u. 4. B.8.41.
Publisher Akadémiai Kiadó
Publisher's
Address
H-1117 Budapest, Hungary 1516 Budapest, PO Box 245.
Responsible
Publisher
Chief Executive Officer, Akadémiai Kiadó
ISSN 0236-6568 (Print)
ISSN 1588-2772 (Online)