Overwhelmed by the beast within
WHO is Laszlo Krasznahorkai? For Susan Sontag, he is ‘‘ the contemporary Hungarian master of apocalypse’’ and comparable with Herman Melville and Nikolai Gogol. W. G. Sebald tells us Krasznahorkai’s vision ‘‘ far surpasses all the lesser concerns of contemporary writing’’. He is bruited all over central Europe to be a strong contender for the Nobel Prize in Literature. So, seriously, who the hell is Krasznahorkai?
Born in Hungary in 1954 and living in Berlin, Krasznahorkai is a writer whose first novel, Satantango (1985), was highly lauded on release, thrusting him immediately into the spotlight. Since then, he has published many novels and collections of short stories, and has collaborated with filmmaker Bela Tarr in adapting his books to the screen.
Krasznahorkai is renowned for his bleak, apocalyptic parables in which the nature of storytelling is broken apart and turned in on itself. In War & War (1999), we encounter the mental degradation of Korin, our narrator, partially through his inability to communicate: he takes pages at a time to produce a single sentence, eventually convincing himself and the reader that he is getting somewhere, yet continually ending up where he started. Here Krasznahorkai is reminiscent of Samuel Beckett, whose disembodied narratorial voice in The Unnamable states: ‘‘ I can’t go on. I’ll go on.’’
The surreal, incessant confusions and linguistic pyrotechnics in Krasznahorkai’s work also point towards a form of realism, mimicking many patterns of human thought, and, in this regard, he suggests David Foster Wallace. These qualities, along with his central European grimness, would indeed make him a strong contender for the