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The Pathseeker [Paperback]

Imre Kertész , Tim Wilkinson

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Book Description

April 1 2008 The Contemporary Art of the Novella

“Original and chilling.”—The New York Review of Books

“From Imre Kertész, the winner of the 2002 Nobel Prize for Literature, we have come to expect novels where [his] detectives track themselves, seeking to apprehend their own role in ‘the logic’ of authoritarianism. . . . From a recipe with these ingredients, it is hard to imagine anything but the highest seriousness. The Pathseeker doesn’t disappoint. . . . Kafka comes to mind.”—Harper’s Magazine

 “The Pathseeker is a necessary addition to Mr. Kertész’s work in English, and should occasion thanks to both the novelist and his translator, Tim Wilkinson, who has rendered Mr. Kertész’s (famously difficult) Hungarian into a flowing, able English—as well as to Melville House’s fascinating ‘The Contemporary Art of the Novella’ series, which rubric The Pathseeker falls under. . . . And with the introduction of The Pathseeker into English, after 30 years of silence, we should pay grateful and careful attention.”—New York Sun

The new Contemporary Art of the Novella series launches with this stunning work from Nobel Prize–winner Imre Kertész, author of Kaddish for an Unborn Child and Fatelessness. In a major work never before translated, the acclaimed Auschwitz survivor continues his blistering investigation of the methodologies of totalitarianism.

In a mysterious middle-European country, a relentless government detective slowly comes to suspect that he’s under investigation himself—but for what and by whom? His banal travels become more and more tense and ominous as the examiner senses his own examination with a building sense of paranoia and powerlessness.

Stylish and unblinking, in a limpid translation by Tim Wilkinson, this haunting tale transcends the genre it spoofs so mercilessly as Kertész lays bare an emotional and psychological landscape ravaged by totalitarianism.

Imre Kertész was born in Hungary in 1929 and, as a teenager, was imprisoned in Auschwitz by the Nazis. The author of numerous novels and stories, few of which have been translated into English, he won the Nobel Prize in 2002 for “writing that upholds the fragile experience of the individual against the barbaric arbitrariness of history.”

Tim Wilkinson has translated Kertész’s acclaimed Kaddish for an Unborn Child, Liquidation, and Fatelessness.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 125 pages
  • Publisher: Melville House (April 1 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933633530
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933633534
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 12.7 x 17.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 136 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #778,793 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Hungarian Nobel Prize–winner (2002) Kertész delivers a taut, grim allegory of man in the face of oppression. A government commissioner is deposited along with his wife in an unnamed European city in order to make a site inspection of a factory. Ridding himself of a colleague named Hermann (who seems complicit in a crime associated with the site) and his wife, the commissioner discovers the site turns out to be an overgrown but otherwise empty field, giving him a bewildering sense of disorientation and defeat. The next day, in the town of Z, the commissioner finds the insatiable Moloch, spewing like a pestilential organism and so grotesque that it may negate the commissioner's existence. Kertész is a master at delineating the tricky nuances of human conduct. He indulges at moments in overwrought prose and heavy-handed symbolism, but the underlying hope clarifies and uplifts. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

Praise for Imre Kertész's The Pathseeker

“Kertész's work is a profound meditation on the great and enduring themes of love, death and the problem of evil, although for Kertész, it's not evil that is the problem but good.”
—John Banville, author of The Sea

“From Imre Kertész, the winner of the 2002 Nobel Prize for Literature, we have come to expect novels where [his] detectives track themselves, seeking to apprehend their own role in ‘the logic’ of authoritarianism. . . . From a recipe with these ingredients, it is hard to imagine anything but the highest seriousness. The Pathseeker doesn’t disappoint. . . . Kafka comes to mind.”
—John Leonard, Harper’s Magazine

“Original and chilling.”
The New York Review of Books

The Pathseeker is a necessary addition to Mr. Kertész’s work in English, and should occasion thanks to both the novelist and his translator, Tim Wilkinson, who has rendered Mr. Kertész’s (famously difficult) Hungarian into a flowing, able English—as well as to Melville House’s fascinating ‘The Contemporary Art of the Novella’ series, which rubric The Pathseeker falls under. . . . And with the introduction of The Pathseeker into English, after 30 years of silence, we should pay grateful and careful attention.”
New York Sun

"[A] profound and puzzling novella... Kertész reminds us that some things can never be named."
Los Angeles Times

"A wonderful opportunity to deepen our understanding of Kertész."
The Nation

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great starting point into Kertész's works April 20 2011
By Sil - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A brief but incisive work, "The Pathseeker" is as haunting as every other Kertész work, but easier to digest (perhaps because it gently insinuates without showing the raw pain of his other works). If you have never read Kertész, I would recommend this novella as a great starting point. It will be a good test and will better prepare you to face "Fatlessness" and "Kaddish for an Unborn Child".
The explanatory note by Tim Wilkinson really helps contextualize the work if you are left scratching your head at the end.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "The agonizing duty of knowledge..." Dec 4 2010
By Giordano Bruno - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
That's how Hermann describes his compulsive 'research' into the crime or simply the event about which the Commissioner is interrogating him: '... the agonizing duty of knowledge..." Hermann, however, turns out to be a minor character in this elusive novella; it's the Commissioner who needs knowledge, has been assigned to verify knowledge, and eventually can't assimilate the knowledge he finds.

But 'knowledge' of what? Nothing is specified, It -- whatever it was -- took place at a site near Hermann's insignificant town. There seem to be 'interests' involved either in confirming or disputing whatever happened. The Commissioner -- but commissioned by whom and for what purpose -- seems at times to have a personal remembrance of the crime, a sense of having known the site all too well, of somehow being both a survivor of the event and a doubter that such an event could ever have become a reality.

It's a very good thing this book is a novella, a mere 100 pages. I doubt that I could bear a longer exposure to such existential anxiety and uncertainty. As it stands, The Pathseeker is intensely disturbing, a puzzle to be solved only by painful empathy with the Commissioner, who has to be the author in the thinnest of masks. it's a work in the vein of Kafka or Borges, with stylistic roots in the works of the Austrian Thomas Bernhard. I could give the reader a boost or a head start toward solving the puzzle by referring him or her to the life experience of Nobel prize winner Imre Kertesz, the experience at the heart of everything he has written, such an experience that one could hardly be expected ever to write about anything else. But I won't. The anxiety - the sense of being off the path or misinformed or thwarted by shadowy obstacles - is the sensation the author wishes to 'share' with you.

If you've read other works by Kertesz, you'll know what I'm talking about. If you haven't, The Pathseeker is an excellent first choice as an introduction to his major works, "Fatelessness" and "Kaddish for an Unborn Child."
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sure, it was good Feb. 26 2013
By Archie Hogsniffer Ploppingforth - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I read it on the train from San Francisco to Elko, and if you need anything to get you emotionally prepared for the harrowing, desolate peoplescape that is northern Nevada, it's probably this novella.
3.0 out of 5 stars Pathseeker Flirts With Obscure Sept. 27 2013
By donald r. beringer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The work cannot be deciphered unless the reader is acquainted with Kertesz's life because the novel is allegory; and people, places and objects represent specific qualities in the author's life, which renders the work esoteric.
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and heartfelt but a little too opaque May 17 2011
By Seth H. Rosenzweig - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I found Imre Kertész's tale of "going home" to the concentration camp where he was imprisoned as a teenage slave laborer to be just a little too opaque. This is understandable, since Kertész wrote the book in communist Hungary, first publishing it in 1977. Translator Tim Wilkinson's afterward is of some help--perhaps they should have had it as a forward?--but the book itself is just too dense in spots. It's still an interesting read, and Kertész is a great writer, and that makes it worth 4 stars.

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