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Voyage to Kazohinia Paperback – Jul 3 2012
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"A page-turner for both the adult as well as the adolescent reader, Voyage to Kazohinia is a classic waiting to be discovered by every literate person. This newly translated and profoundly transformative novel ought to be taught in high schools and colleges across the English-speaking world. " --David Mandler, PhD, English Teacher at Stuyvesant High School, New York City
"Massively entertaining! . . . Make room for the new Gulliver. He has brought home news out of Kazohinia." -- Gregory Maguire, author of Wicked and Out of Oz
“Written in 1935, Voyage to Kazohinia is a strikingly postmodern and open-ended dystopia that rightfully belongs among the twentieth-century classics of the genre. And it is unique in being less a strident political cautionary tale than it is a brilliantly mordant reflection on government, reason, and language.”
—Carter Hanson, Associate Professor of English, Valparaiso University
“[A] dystopian cult classic. . . . Gulliver washes up on the island of Kazohinia, which is populated by bizarre inhabitants . . . whose sense of morality and society force [him] to reconsider his own understanding of life, love, and death.”
“Highly entertaining. . . . Readers familiar with the classic Swift satire will find much to admire here, but those unfamiliar with Gulliver’s Travels should still have a good time.”
"A satire on our world of power politics... clever and inventive." -- Allan Massie, The Wall Street Journal
"However you interpret it, the novel is most certainly a literary masterpiece." -- William Auld
"Like Milton . . . Szathmári is fascinated by humankind’s precarious oscillation between good and evil; and, like the novelist Aldous Huxley in Brave New World, he is deeply suspicious of notions of human perfectibility this side of heaven itself." --Humphrey Tonkin, President Emeritus of the University of Hartford
"As if Bradbury and Orwell had been mixed with fresh wild berries, Voyage to Kazohinia was so ahead of its time that its time still hasn't caught up. Perhaps now it will." --Miklos Vamos, author of The Book of Fathers
"Voyage to Kazohinia belongs on every bookshelf alongside the works of Orwell, Huxley, and Zamyatin." -- Gyorgy Dragoman, author of The White King.
"Sándor Szathmári writes in the best tradition of Jonathan Swift in using the framework of an adventure story for a fascinating in-depth exploration of human relationships. . . . And he remarkably brings off a crystal-clear style that never gets boring in the least."
--Reinhard Fössmeier, International Academy of the Sciences San Marino
"A powerful stimulus to thought. What distinguishes Voyage to Kazohinia from similar ventures and yet links it to Huxley's Brave New World is its description of both utopia and dystopia."
--Michel Duc Goninaz, author of La Plena Ilustrita Vortaro de Esperanto (Complete Illustrated Esperanto Dictionary)
About the Author
Sándor Szathmári (1897-1974) was among the most extraordinary and elusive figures in twentieth-century Hungarian literature. The author of two published novels and several story collections in his native tongue, he is best known for Voyage to Kazohina--which, titled Kazohinia on most editions in Hungary, has been treasured by generations of readers.
Szathmári spent much of his career as a mechanical engineer; this, together with his limited oeuvre, the biting satire of his magnum opus, and his political persuasions--which ranged from an early, ambivalent affiliation with communism to anticommunism as Hungary became a communist dictatorship--kept him ever on the margins of the officially sanctioned literary establishment.
A central figure in Hungary's Esperanto movement for decades, Szathmári published his writings--including, most famously, Voyage to Kazohinia--in his own Esperanto-language editions, ensuring him a measure of international recognition and literary freedom during the communist era. The author lives in Died in 1974.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
--David Mandler, Ph.D.
English Teacher, Author of the short story, "The Loft" (The Loft)
Stuyvesant High School
Voyage to Kazohinia is divided into two parts. In the first, Gulliver arrives among the Hins. Their world could be considered utopian, but they lack a lot of the things that make us humans happy (and also angsty and unstable). Pointed jab at communism here? Maybe. It's an ideal world in many ways (so what communism just wants to be), but, like Gulliver, most of us wouldn't actually want to live there. Gulliver's navigation of this strange people is hilarious all the way through, so, except for some parts that include way too much explanatory dialogue, it's highly enjoyable.
Gulliver eventually decides to move in with the Behins, otherwise known as the "insane" Hins. Here the story ceases to be hilarious and is really rather sad. Gulliver fails to see what is obvious to the reader, that the beliefs and idiosyncrasies of the Behins mirror those of our own society. Meanwhile, the Behins appear so illogical that I generally felt like (metaphorically) banging my head against the wall. But, there were still some really funny parts, like when feeding women food becomes symbolic of prostitution. Don't ask, just go read the book.
That woman is the young, unconventional, nonconformist Brave New World, with whom Kazohinia acquires much of its setting and themes from. That includes almost the entirety of the Hin's philosophy of a cashless, prosperous society where no one is hungry and, indeed, no one is completely full as well. Gulliver encapsulates this emptiness with: "Life here does not take place, it only is." (115) Gulliver in this case takes the place of John as the outraged outsider, and we see his disgust at the true order of things take shape in a similar situation as in World: When the woman he wants to love reveals her wanton promiscuity without any regard to the 'proper' behavior of a lady. But Kazohinia also borrows a great deal from his father, and not only the name of the protagonist. For in Travels the bantam land of Lilliput must be contrasted with the colossal kingdom of Brobdingnag, so too must the soulless utopia of the Hins be countered with the mad land of the Behins. But unlike in Travels, where the differences laid solely in the verticality of the two races, here the deviations are quite more nuanced. The Behins are the epitome of the superstitious, aggressive, and disagreeable attitudes we have amongst our own people. It was a race founded on incompetency for the fanatics by the imbeciles. Whereas Gulliver sought out agreeable minds in this strange land, he found only insanity and zealotry.
Szathmári does bring a certain charm and style to this novel. Throughout the encounters with the two races on their ideals and philosophy we are greeted with a welcome variety of wit and humor, especially in passages at risk of monotony. "Behind this terrible perfection there was no substance" (32) epitomizes this 'pure utopia with a couple of caveats' idea. And although this theme has been expounded in a number of previous works, certain aspects of the 'order at what cost' mentality (which eerily foreshadow an infamous event not a decade later) brings up many thought provoking points which you'd be hard pressed to find in other novels of the similar ilk.
If you enjoyed either the works of Swift or Huxley, you will appreciate this novel. If you like your utopia fictions sprinkled with some hard truths, you will feel at home here. And although with its subject matter it can be called a faithful expansion at best and a subpar attempt at fan fiction at worse, I challenge you to name one work of literature not at least partially inspired by a piece before it. It is one of the defining characteristics of mankind to adopt and improve on old ideas, in order to inspire new generations to do the same so the lessons of our past are never lost or forgotten. And the lessons espoused in Voyage to Kazohinia are ones that would be in our best interest not to forget.