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