Tuesday, August 23, 2005


This is the first of the Marai Sandor novels to be published in English by Knopf. It is translated by Carol Brown Janeway, who translated not from the Hungarian but the German edition. This is pretty dubious translation practice, and a review at The Complete Review indignantly called this "literary sin," but the prose reads remarkably well. The sentences are beautifully rendered, and my Hungarian mom, who's read both the original and the English, greatly preferred this translation to the English translation of Marai's Casanova in Bolzano, which was translated straight from the Hungarian by someone else. Oh, well.

Embers is a masterpiece, and a short one, at that. It can be read in a day or two, which makes it a perfect recommendation to friends (you can't exactly tell someone to read Gravity's Rainbow). The premise of the story is that two old men meet again for the first time in forty years to discuss what ended their friendship so many years ago.


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