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Limited-Time Promo: Baron Wenckheim's Homecoming - Save 20% off!

Apr 07, 2024 01:35 am
Limited-Time Promo: Baron Wenckheim's Homecoming - Save 20% off!
Category: Contemporary Fiction
Seller Name: WeBuyBooks
Rating: 4.50
Total Rating Count: 104
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Title: A work like no other author
Content: A work of genius. It is demanding of a readers complete attention although always accessible. Interwoven plots and characters present a real tapestry of a society in decay and searching for a meaning .
Title: Quality from Glenn is always great!
Content: What did I use this product for, asks Amazon, which used to be a book store… It’s a book, and I am reading it.
Title: tragic and apocalyptic
Content: a renown naturalist, one of the world’s foremost authorities on moss, living in a small hungarian city close to the romanian border, leaves his home and moves to the forest where he builds a shack, turning his back on the life of science and the mind. he runs afoul of a biker gang, from whom he must flee for his life. the vicious leader of the biker gang is feared by the city. with a natural intelligence, he has set a grid of the city, where nothing escapes his survey. in his hunt for the professor, the biker leader conducts a detailed search while contemplating how the professor would think. as the hunted, the professor stopped thinking, an impossibility for which he adjusts by thinking for precisely two hours a day about the foundations of culture, philosophy and of the mathematician, george cantor and his theories on multiple infinities. meanwhile an exile, an old baron, tall and angular like don quixote, spent his waking hours, like dostoievski’s gambler, in casinos in argentina. losing a fortune, his destiny is left in the hands of others, he’s tossed around like old clothes strewn before the homeless. a kind of sleepwalker lost in nostalgia, an old man, maybe a touch of dementia, his relatives get him to vienna, hires a tailor to fit him with clothes, gives him money and sends him on his way to return to his hometown, a place he hasn’t seen since he was a young man. he carries in his pocket the photo of the girl he claims to always have loved. the city gets wind of his arrival and arrange a welcoming suitable for a baron, hoping for a boost to their depressed economy. this is a book full of illusions and disillusions. to watch what happens to the city is as eerie as anything written by stephen king. krasznahorkai’s writing style is a syringe filled from a stream of words and shot right to the brain. there are few periods, sentences run on for pages, phrases are repeated with the repetition of a pulse. you get what’s going on by looking at the page like you look at the details in scene after scene of any visualization of moving images not by reading in the traditional manner. there are passages of the great flow—a phrase from these pages—if the reader slows down to read in the old manner one will encounter passages as beautiful as any prose written. but as with most contemporary experimental literature, and there’s no mistaking that the Baron belongs to that literary tradition, there’s a mustiness. literary theorists as recent as fifty years ago, proclaimed the death of the novel, the absence of characters, and the novel as chimerical, anything you wanted to be, even the story did not matter, books could not mirror the real world, therefore fiction was no more than words on a page not needing plot, character, grammar, storyline. fiction is done by tossing out all the rules while creating affects and cathartic tones. it’s all been done before. true to experimental fiction, much of the Baron is deliberately inconclusive, effects are everything. characters are sketchy, plots incomplete, everything disposable. think the brief commentaries of borges on long fictions, think calvino’s list of cities. or think of the stream of conscious styles of thomas bernhard and virginia woolf, or the chaotic prose world probabilities of thomas pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow contrasted with krasznahorkai’s lectures on george cantor. martin macinnes, in his first novel, Infinite Ground, wants to cover similar experimental territory. or, like the professor, think nothing. read, grab on to the story, hold on and go where it takes you, you won’t be disappointed.
Title: A postmodern, late stage capitalism masterpiece
Content: Throughout the past hundred and fifty years or so, as the stage for modernism was set and more and more of the populace began to engage in literary and artistic pursuits with the rise of widespread literacy, the drive to and difficulty of portraying societies as fluid groups and a character unto itself has been an ever-changing and ever-difficult task for the writer. The main characters of stories moved from the aristocratic and powerful to the experience of the everyman, and as the horrors of the 20th century’s world wars and constantly alienating structures of society increased, so did the meaningfulness and meaninglessness of our experiences move exponentially out of reach. László Krasznahorkai’s final novel, BARON WENCKHEIM’S HOME COMING, is a successful and boggling attempt at trying to encapsulate the entirety of our modern era’s anxieties as they sweep through a man, a culture, our technology, tradition, and the mistakes of our past. This book is very difficult to pinpoint and describe on a surface level – such as where the plot begins and ends, and who the ‘main’ characters are. But ultimately, it is an indictment of the destruction of our identities and how we can rebuild them into some homunculus of culture and integration in a world ravaged by late-stage capitalism. The narrative’s camera sweeps among and through the characters of this novel as they experience today’s horrors of existence. Some question it, some find humor in it, some indulge in violence, and some the dog-and-pony tricks of the press and legal systems. We are treated to moving among the Hungarian crowd as disillusioned Hungarians ourselves, and it is no small feat that Ottilie Mulzet' s English translation from New Directions did an incredible job of contextualizing and energizing Krasznahorkai’s confounding prose and characters. In a lot of ways, this book reminded me of some of the great Russians that I have read in my life such as Dr. Zhivago or Anna Karenina. Sweeping in scope and scale, the ability to translate a culture and its values and complexities through writing can be overwhelmingly difficult. The masters of the time would introduce hundreds of characters, many of whom we would only see momentarily to build a mise en scene that completed the novel’s beautiful identity as we walked the streets and experienced war alongside the deeply flawed characters. But today’s world is a lot different, with an internalism that seems to be on the micro and macro scale with an internet, economy, and leadership much different than the world of the past five thousand years. Krasznahorkai has somehow created a bold new paradigm for how this world and its inhabitants can be portrayed on the page by seemingly setting us up alongside his loom and spitting out character after character as he disassembles and reassembles the machinery in real time while making an incredible tapestry of Hungary, the hive-thoughts of the nation’s people, and the desire to pull a thread and unweave it at the bottom and feed the thread back into the loom before us. This book is an exquisite magic trick of thought, existence, politics, and an almost hilarious reflective cynicism. I have read somewhere that Krasznahorkai suggested that if he died tomorrow – and he had said that this was going to be his last novel - that he would die happy knowing he left the world with his best work. He included the other two volumes of the trilogy that preceded this volume in his statement, and while I have not read them, I can also indicate that you not only don’t have to but that he is truly retiring with a work of writing that is absolutely incredible. It is a triumph of Hungarian literature, a triumph of Jewish literature, and a vast, funny, complicated, and celebratory portrait of what it means to live in the cold, commodified, irrational world of today. I don’t know how he did it, and how he did it so well with such momentum, but it is a truly amazing thing to behold.
Title: Unique, interesting and painstakingly slow
Content: I don't read novels that often because I find them too long. This book is no exception. I stopped reading it about a month ago halfway through the book and haven't picked it back up. I truly want to continue reading it because I thought Laszlo's rendering of the story was unique and effective, and the story and the characters were quite interesting. I just wish it wasn't so long in the telling. Reminds me of Dickens that way, though very differently styled. It's a depressing portrait of Hungary, and mankind in general, at least so far. What fools these mortals be!
Title: Won't console you during the COVID pandemic
Content: These are uncertain times, and all the dystopian books I’ve read come back to haunt me. I finished Baron before the coronavirus rolled in, when I was carefree. This book does not console, but real life was fine then. Reading it now may trigger intense dwelling on things. There’s no strong redemption, and the tone is black with ignorance melted down to absurdity. Krasznahorkai portrays its nihilism with burlesque delivery, like a sinister clown dancing for wages. Any pretension is tongue-in-cheek because the narrative is also compelling—there’s a town reminiscent of Brigadoon, but inverted and bleak because it exists in denial of its own nature. The emperors are walking the streets naked and bragging of their finery, and the existential threat of doom hovers while the town vacillates between hammer and nail. An aging Lord Baron escapes gambling debts in Buenos Aires, where he has spent much of his life. He returns to this burg of a town in Hungary (far away from Budapest) where he was born, a melancholy, static village where mediocrity glitters to perfection in a place that Google forgot. Baron Wenkheim has vivid nostalgia for the one woman, Marika, who got away from him in his youth. He packs his bags and travels back by train with the intention of asking Marika to marry him. I can’t remember how old he is now—mid 60s—70? Krasznahorkai is a combination of Dostoevsky, Beckett, Kafka, and David Lynch, with some of the humor of 1984 and Brave New World circulating. It is difficult to describe, because it is an experience of tone and syntactical intensity and athleticism that creates this lost world of parody, but the cast of Baron believe their agendas have gravitas. There are a few unsung antiheroes, one or two that they could play up in a movie version. I won’t mention who they are, because that is part of reader discovery. Marika is intriguing, as is her relationship with her best friend. This tomb of a book is partly a portrayal of alliances, colleagues, partnerships, family, friends. There are grifters, whiners, thinkers, bikers, a chorus, musicians, repurposed old horses for royal pageantry, and there’s a monkish professor who wants to rid the planet of imbecility and only allows himself to think for an hour or so daily, if you can imagine that. It’s difficult for someone so cerebral. Krasznahorkai doesn’t write in straightforward talk. At the end of a two-page sentence, however, you have gotten to the core, the seeds, and the juice. Krasznahorkai creates generous growth around malignancy. Give him a blank space and he will erect the cosmos to hell, but in a wise, heavenly way. Baron Wenkheim’s Homecoming was translated by Ottille Muizet, who won the 2019 National Book Award for Translated Literature. Krasznahorkai won the 2015 Man Booker International Prize for Lifetime Achievement. Both well-deserved.

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