The Pathseeker Paperback – Apr 1 2008
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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)
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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."
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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."
The explanatory note by Tim Wilkinson really helps contextualize the work if you are left scratching your head at the end.