15 July 13 | Chad W. Post

Over at the Literature Across Frontiers website, there’s a great interview with everyone’s favorite apocalyptic writer, László Krasznahorkai:

[. . .] First I wanted to talk to him about another work of his, Animalinside, a beautifully published pamphlet (in The Cahiers Series) of a collaboration between the author and the German painter, Max Neumann.

James Hopkin: What was the idea behind this work that alternates paintings of a black dog with your words?

László Krasznahorkai: I wanted to look at a picture so long until I could look at it no more and after that to write about what I saw in this picture and after that I would show this text to the painter, and the painter, perhaps, could make a new version of this painting, like a response, and after that I would write again, and so on, and so would come a dialogue, and perhaps from this material we could make something.

To begin with, I wrote a short text about this picture, because this picture deals with the bad, and I couldn’t be free of this picture, because I understand that it is not a solution to drop out because something stays forever, so the best way was to write about it. I had a plan to write about the ‘new brutale’ and that’s why, the next day, I went to Max Neumann, the painter, and I made a small translation of my text into German, and Max was very satisfied, very excited, but he said absolutely nothing.

A few days later, he called me: can you come to my atelier this afternoon? And he showed me the second version of his painting. It was unbelievable because I didn’t talk about this plan to him. So I wrote a text about the second picture and I translated it into German for him, and so on, for 14 pictures and 14 texts. Why 14? That’s so easy to explain. I had a feeling that 13 is not enough and 15 is too many.

When it was finished, I had a problem with this project: is it possible to paint about the bad, to write about the bad – Will we pay for that? If yes, when? The texts, like the picture, were quite hard. Because I understood immediately from the beginning that to give a form to the bad is only possible when you are inside, from outside there is no chance, but from inside, it has some…it is a little bit dangerous, I felt. I kept thinking, or somebody or something kept speaking to me in only one sentence, ‘about the bad, people have to speak’, ‘about the bad, people have to speak.’

[And he utters this mantra two more times, his voice fading to a whisper until his lips are moving and there is no sound.]

That’s the story of AnimaIinside.

JH: Could you say something more about your idea of ‘the new Brutale’?

LK: You know this kind of bad, in the form of brutality, always comes back and back in the pose of history, and this is such a time, and the brutal is on the street, and absolutely free on the street; the only thing I can do in our defence is to write.

JH: So writing becomes a form of resistance?

LK: In this case, yes. Normally, I have never done anything like that. My other novels and short stories are absolutely different. Animalinside is a shout. And it is the first collaboration in my life. And perhaps the last. But very interesting.

JH: But you collaborate on films with Béla Tarr. [If you haven’t seen Werckmeister Harmonies, Tarr’s rendering of Krasznahorkai’s novel, The Melancholy of Resistance, I strongly recommend it.]

LK: That’s different, because a movie has only one director, and he’s responsible for the film. Of course, I am not a scriptwriter. The films are almost always made from my books, except one. I draw for Béla the philosophical background of our question, day and night, day and night, that’s our method of collaboration. I never want a literary adaptation, never, because it is absolutely unnecessary for me. A book by me does not need an adaptation.

It’s a nice thing that somebody, Béla Tarr, has a mania, a wish, always to make a movie from Krasznahorkai’s works and that’s why I think: ok I will try to understand why he thinks that this new movie is absolutely necessary. When I have understood that, my second question is: what kind of movie is he thinking about from my book? When I have understood that, my third and last question to myself is: how can I help Bela? My aim is to help his imaginative power.

In Béla’s last movie, ‘The Turin Horse’, from my early essay about a day in Turin with Nietzsche, I had a different question: Ok, we know everything about Nietzsche, about the man, the owner of the horse, but nobody wondered what happened to the horse. Why not? I wrote about that.

Be sure and check out the whole interview — it’s well worth it.


Comments are disabled for this article.
....
Elsewhere
Elsewhere by Eliot Weingerber (ed.)
Reviewed by Grant Barber

What a wonderful, idiosyncratic book Weinberger has written. I say book, but the closest comparison I could make to other works being published right now are from Sylph Edition’s “Cahiers Series“—short pamphlet-like meditations by notable writers such as Ann Carson,. . .

Read More >

The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly
The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly by Sun-mi Hwang
Reviewed by Chris Iacono

Early in Sun-mi Hwang’s novel The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly, the main character, a hen named Sprout, learns about sacrifice. After refusing to lay any more eggs for the farmer who owns her, she becomes “culled” and released. . .

Read More >

Sankya
Sankya by Zakhar Prilepin
Reviewed by Kseniya Melnik

When Sankya was published in Russia in 2006, it became a sensation. It won the Yasnaya Polyana Award (bestowed by direct descendants of Leo Tolstoy) and was shortlisted for the Russian Booker and the National Bestseller Award. Every member of. . .

Read More >

Stalin is Dead
Stalin is Dead by Rachel Shihor
Reviewed by Tiffany Nichols

Stalin is Dead by Rachel Shihor has been repeatedly described as kafkaesque, which strikes a chord in many individuals, causing them to run to the bookstore in the middle of the night to be consumed by surreal situations that no. . .

Read More >

Paradises
Paradises by Iosi Havilio
Reviewed by Andrea Reece

Paradises by cult Argentinian author Iosi Havilio is the continuation of his earlier novel, Open Door, and tells the story of our narrator, a young, unnamed Argentinian woman.

The very first sentence in Paradises echoes the opening of Camus’s The Outsider. . .

Read More >

Two Crocodiles
Two Crocodiles by Fyodor Dostoevsky; Felisberto Hernández
Reviewed by Sara Shuman

This pearl from New Directions contains one short story from Russian literary master Fyodor Dostoevsky (translated by Constance Garnett) and one short story from Uruguayan forefather of magical realism Felisberto Hernández (translated by Esther Allen). Both pieces are entitled “The. . .

Read More >

Navidad & Matanza
Navidad & Matanza by Carlos Labbé
Reviewed by J.T. Mahany

I’m talking about pathological individuals; six twisted people taking part in an unpredictable game.

Carlos Labbé’s Navidad & Matanza is the story of two missing children and the journalist trying to find them. Actually. it’s the story of a group of. . .

Read More >

Zbinden's Progress
Zbinden's Progress by Christoph Simon
Reviewed by Emily Davis

For Lukas Zbinden, walking is a way of life. At eighty-seven, he is still an avid walker and insists on going for walks outside as often as possible, rain or snow or shine. Now that he lives in an assisted. . .

Read More >

Commentary
Commentary by Marcelle Sauvageot
Reviewed by Peter Biello

Commentary is a book that defies simple categorization. Marcelle Sauvageot’s prose lives in the world of novel, memoir, and philosophical monologue as the narrator, a woman recuperating in a sanatorium, muses on the nature of love and examines her own. . .

Read More >

My Fathers’ Ghost is Climbing in the Rain
My Fathers’ Ghost is Climbing in the Rain by Patrico Pron
Reviewed by P. T. Smith

Though far from the most convincing reason to read literature in translation, one common side effect is learning of another culture, of its history. Within that, and a stronger motivation to read, is the discovery of stories not possible within. . .

Read More >