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Animalinside [Paperback]

Laszlo Krasznahorkai


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Paperback, May 24 2011 --  
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Book Description

May 24 2011 The Cahiers
This cahier is the result of a collaboration undertaken specially for The Cahiers Series, between Hungarian novelist László Krasznahorkai and German painter Max Neumann. Krasznahorkai, author of The Melancholy of Resistance and War & War, responds with 14 texts to 14 depictions of a strange and ill-formed creature made by the renowned German painter Max Neumann. The texts speak from within the head of Neumann’s creature that seems to be menacing existence itself. The cahier is introduced with a preface by Irish novelist Colm Tóibín.
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Review

“Krasznahorkai’s most recent work in English is not a novel but a collaboration between the writer and the German artist Max Neumann. Animalinside is a series of fourteen exquisite and enigmatic paintings, with paragraph-length texts by Krasznahorkai . . . . The pleasure of the book flows from its extraordinary, stretched, self-recoiling sentences, which are marvels of a loosely punctuated stream of consciousness.”



 

(James Wood New Yorker)

Animalinside is a series of short texts that alternate with paintings by Max Neumann. . . . The resulting chapbook is a rolling, menacing howl that sounds like the supplication of a pet at one moment and erupts into the fury of a savage beast the next.”

(Jennifer Szalai London Review of Books)

“Excellent.”
(Scott Esposito Washington Post)

“German painter Max Neumann offers up fourteen strange renditions of animal-like creatures, and Krasznahorkai responds with fourteen short pieces that speak directly from the mind of each.”
(Typographical Era)

“Beautifully published. . . . In this haunting work, Krasznahorkai responds to fourteen different artworks depicting a deformed, tortured creature with texts that seem to inhabit the consciousness of Neumann’s monstrous creature from within and without.”
(Biblioasis International Translation blog) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

László Krasznahorkai is a Hungarian writer living in Berlin. Three of his works have been made into award-winning films by the renowned filmmaker Béla Tarr: Werckmeister Harmonies, Satantango, and The Horse from Turin. He has written seven novels and numerous other works, including Animalinside, also available from Sylph Editions.
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A hatred of the infinite July 6 2011
By Paul Kerschen - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
László Krasznahorkai is often compared to Thomas Bernhard and Samuel Beckett, likewise masters of the long, monologic sentence inside which the world seems to disappear. But Krasznahorkai's themes are not like those of Bernhard, who was a comedian of manners; nor is he like Beckett, who erased the world in order to dredge the self, and whose drive toward stasis and silence made him a kind of religious writer. Krasznahorkai is much more political, interested in the conflict between principles, and in the distortion that our ideals undergo when they rub up against reality. He is sometimes called an apocalyptic writer, but his apocalypse, being unrepresentable, never arrives. Instead his prose plays out the contradiction and doubling back that comes from trying to represent it anyway.

The creature that narrates "Animalinside" is a prophet haunted by incompletion: "for I have no other aspirations; just once, I said, just once to find where the end of a direction is, to go along a road." Max Neumann's illustrations of a leaping dog - likewise incomplete, missing its front legs - accompany a series of texts about cages, which the animal is outside and inside at once. Because it is entirely foreign, beyond any system of thought, it finds the very fabric of space to be a trap; it announces itself as a cosmic force, encompassing galaxies, but also as a hidden principle in the human mind; it is a servile pet begging for its dinner that also threatens to rip its master's face off - unless that threat is an uneasy joke. These winding contradictions play out what it means to be a spirit that, like Goethe's Mephistopheles, always denies; they also skirt unsealable cracks in society and in the self. Krasznahorkai's ability to suspend these elements over his long sentences, suggesting turn after turn while disclosing nothing in full, makes him one of the very finest writers we have.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unsexy beast July 12 2011
By David Auerbach - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Animalinside is a formal experiment for Hungarian author Krasznahorkai. Krasznahorkai wrote a text to accompany a drawing by Max Neumann, and Neumann drew over a dozen more in response, and Krasznahorkai wrote a short text for each one. There's an obvious unity to it all: the pictures all feature the (usually) black silhouette of some sort of feral animal poised to jump, and the texts are all about some sort of beast or beasts, usually written in the first person singular or plural.

The beast is angry, but helpless. The beast rants about how he is beyond any constraint that can be put on him by thought or concept. He is unique and beyond comparison: "It is impossible to confuse me with anyone else." He is within you, caged in one picture, but he is struggling to break free. And so another of Krasznahorkai's conceptual contradictions emerges: the beast that is at once free beyond everything and yet trapped.

Is the beast railing at the infinite itself, the inadequacy of the concept of the infinite, or the representation of the infinite (as in this picture)? I'm not sure. This tension is the same one that occurred in Krasznahorkai's earlier From the North by Hill, from the South by Lake, from the West by Roads, from the East by River, which contained a book by a mad Frenchman ranting against Cantor's mathematical conception of infinity. Perhaps the idea is that the conception traps us while simultaneously facing us with its inadequacy, and this is unbearable because, as with the ideas of mortality and immortality, neither side is a conceivable solution.

Because the text is more rarefied and abstract than Kraznahorkai's other work, it seems to resemble Beckett at times. But Beckett never portrayed such a vicious antagonism. His personae always collapse into themselves. Even their assertions of antagonism are hopeful but futile gestures against solipsistic nightmares. That is not the case in Krasznahorkai. I do not think it ever is. His characters and voices are always struggling within a larger cosmos of forces and others.

I'm a great fan of Krasznahorkai's work. He may not be a god to me, but he's one of the best writers around. Animalinside may be pretty elusive to someone starting cold with Krasznahorkai; The Melancholy of Resistance, which was the basis of Bela Tarr's amazing film The Werckmeister Harmonies, offers a more grounded point of entry. But the book is gorgeous and short, and it makes itself strongly felt even as it remains oblique.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars tactile bliss Sept. 3 2011
By Amy Henry - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Sure, you could probably read the text of this on a Kindle or Nook. But you'd be missing everything, and I don't just mean the Neumann images. This book actually smells good! It feels good. It's a tactile experience that engages your eyes and other senses, while your brain tries to solve the mystery of who is the Animalinside.

First off, this is a novella that started with a Neumann painting that inspired Krasznahorai's text about a creature that defies easy description. After that, Neumann provided more images with the same dog-like beast, to inspire further chapters from the Hungarian author. Prefaced by Colm Toibin, who states that the author "stands closer to Kafka than to Beckett, but he is close to neither in his interest and delight in verbal pyrotechnics, in allowing the sheer energy of his long exciting sentences full sway."

The monster of the story, if indeed that is what it is, is trapped in a place where he is excluded and in pain. "...I don't even exist, I only howl, and howling is not identical with existence, on the contrary howling is despair, the horror of that instance of awakening when the condemned--myself--comes to realize that he has been excluded from existence and there is no way back..."

The words of the beast, shown in the images as a sort of fierce two-legged dog, are almost always horrifying...caged, it waits for release to wreak havoc and battle for kingship over a wasteland of earth. At lighter moments, though, it speaks almost in a panic over the search for its food dish, but the threats he makes about its loss are nothing adorable.

Much of the imagery and words confuse me...I sense that a deeper measure of the meaning involves the ugly results of binding the voices of small, defenseless peoples until their defense is their only option. Their obsession.

And about that, "smells good" remark? New Directions designed this as part of their Cahiers series, #14, and it's designed in a seven step printing process that makes for thick, waxy pages, with layers of thick inks and contrasting textures. Maybe it's all the chemicals involved, but it smells and feels amazing. Heirloom-quality, if that's possible for a novella.
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Volume May 2 2014
By Steiner - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This extraordinarily beautiful prose poem marks a very direct, deliberate, and bared down creation in Krasznahorkai’s difficult oeuvre. Inspired by a painting by Max Neumann (which appears in this beautiful volume) of a black, two-dimensional dog of sorts, seemingly flattened in space. The animal inside understands itself to be eternally condemned to captivity and stillness—what is produced in this monologic delirium are extremely powerful ruminations on the nature of the body, of its imprisoning contours, as well as the repetitions of being conscious. Krasznahorkai achieves a rare tactility in the midst of this language—his sentences resist easy structuration—their power is in their very incapacity to be wielded or appropriated in speech. The translation, by Ottilie Mulzet, is of course a remarkable work of art in its own right.
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing March 31 2013
By Dr Doran - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a brilliant "picture book" that is like no other picture book. It is a collaboration between a German artist and a Hungarian writer that is so dark, intense, funny and full of despair and resistance. It is not for children!

I have read Laszlo Krasznahorkai's Melancholy of Resistance, and he is able to take the essence of that very long, complicated, intense and exhausting book into a smaller scale, yet equally intense and political.

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