Liquidation Revisited

Despite being such a short work, Liquidation is remarkably dense and requires both concentration and more of a brain than I tend to be able to gather up these days.  There are moments of humor:

from Liquidation
Imre Kertész

What he wanted to say was: He floated like a phantom albatross of unspotted whiteness on the ice gray ocean. But he conceded that he had no way of justifying the simile. He had been reading Moby-Dick the previous evening before falling asleep.

And stunning moments of isolation and a sort of terror/horror

from Liquidation
Imre Kertész

"But it's what happened," I protested.

That's precisely the problem, he explained. It happened, yet it's still not true. An exception, an anecdote. A speck of grit gets into the corpse-mincing machine. Who cared about his life, he said, exceptional only courtesy of the camp's Prominents, an anomalous, one-off industrial accident? And where does the nonexistent exceptional success story of this person called B. find a place in universal grand history?

And a certain icy hot passion of thought:

from Liquidation
Imre Kertész

I struggled with critical philosophical issues in a self-imposed solitary confinement: I am no great believer in metaphysical powers, that's for sure, but ethical categories suddenly seemed to me to be rocky in the extreme. I was forced to an acknowledgment of the stark fact that man is, both physically and morally, an utterly vulnerable being--not an easy thing to accept in a society whose ideals and practice are determined solely by a police view of the world from which there is no escape and where no explanation of any kind is satisfactory, not even if those alternatives are set before me by external duress rather than by myself, so that I actually have nothing to do with what I do or what is done with me.

What is remarkable is how readable the translation is.  I cannot say whether or not it conveys the intent of the Hungarian or captures the essence--always a difficulty with translations, no matter how dedicated and well-intended the translator.  However, Liquidation  reads beautifully throughout.


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