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4.23 of 5 stars 4.23  ·  rating details  ·  1,270 ratings  ·  185 reviews
Already famous as the inspiration for the filmmaker Béla Tarr’s six-hour masterpiece, Satantango is proof, as the spellbinding, bleak, and hauntingly beautiful book has it, that “the devil has all the good times.”

The story of Satantango, spread over a couple of days of endless rain, focuses on the dozen remaining inhabitants of an unnamed isolated hamlet: failures stuck in
Hardcover, 274 pages
Published March 5th 2012 by New Directions (first published 1985)
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Dec 27, 2014 Ema rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Ema by: Declan
I am reading Satantango at my parents' house. A communist block of flats, tiny cubicles with thin walls, through which the noise of a Tv set penetrates from my neighbor upstairs. Later on, my mother comes in my room and falls asleep on my bed. Poor mom, she is always so tired... Soon, the muffled noise of the Tv intermingles with my mother's snores. I am expelled from the depths of evil; I leave behind the colony, the putrid rooms, the decay. I come back to my banal reality. I glimpse at the hal ...more
Laszlo Krasznahorkai's first novel Satantango certainly plays hard-to-get. This cagey, fractal narrative—divided upon itself and reassembled, almost like a cubist painting—delights in disorienting the reader and forcing him to roll up his intellectual sleeves and get down to business. Published originally in 1985, during the decline of European communism, and finally appearing in English translation this month, Satantango offers the story of a Hungarian collective which, despite its formal disso ...more
krasznahorkai's hard at work on the next few in the series:

#2 Beezelbuballet
#3 Mephistophelesamba
#4 Azazelambada
#5 Antichristarantella
#6 Luciferumba
#7 Belialimbo
#8 Asmodeusalsa
Contains spoilers.

If I change one letter in the famous dictum of Julian of Norwich I can, I think, reach the core of László Krasznahorkai's world-view: All shall be hell, and all shall be hell and all manner of things shall be hell.

In Satantango, as in The Melancholy or Resistance and War and War, we are presented with worlds without pity in which all hope is vested in a single possibility which, once realised, begins to make everything much worse than it was and then, of course, there are the a
Satantango, or Satan's Tango, is a wandering, twisted, dark, exhausting snarl of a book. It takes six steps forward, and six steps back, leaving chaos and the blackest of humor.

The novel is an allegorical story of a dance with the devil - the characters in their bleak little rainy hole of a village futz around, and every time they try and move forwards, the inertia of their lives drags them back. They dream of the fool's prophet, Irimias, and regress further. Sink into the earth.

It's more than E
M. Sarki

The sickly overweight doctor near the end of the book discontinues his severe watering down of his pálenka, mixing now a mere fifty-fifty blend of brandy and water as he collects in his files his records by journaling what is in his mind and the way he wants to see it now instead of his normal operating procedure of reporting on what he actually sees. In other words, the good doctor is rewriting history and there is nothing the ex-residents of the Hungaria
Chuck LoPresti
A stunning read. Just as Breughel paintings are revered for their almost musical composition, Krasznahorkai’s long-awaited (in English at least) Satantango unfolds likes a piece of music – a tango - in style – but not in tone. And also like Brueghel’s peasants – Kraszhnahorkai’s failures scrape along through the mud in a shambling mess of drunken sin and debauchery - but somehow are never not worth your attention. Satantango is populated by only failures and false prophets. It also works like a ...more
A wickedly smart tale with a delicious sting in its tail. No one does Bleakness like these European writers. Satantango with its "suffocating sense of sadness," is not for everyone.
Better steal NR's 'Filmed' shelf & watch Béla Tarr's looong, haunting, cult movie:
But here's the rub: even the movie is not for everyone- didn't I mention 'cult'?

Edit: 23/5/15

Here's a fantastic review of the book:
Irimiás scrapes the mud off his lead-heavy shoes, clears his throat, cautiously opens the door, and the rain begins again, while to the east, swift as memory, the sky brightens, scarlet and pale-blue and leans against the undulating horizon, to be followed by the sun, like a beggar daily panting up to his spot on the temple steps, full of heartbreak and misery, ready to establish the world of shadows, to separate the trees one from the other, to raise, out of the freezing, confusing homogeneity
László Krasznahorkai is a modern literary genius. Forget about your modern American authors, they cannot begin to compare to Krasznahorkai's work. It doesn't matter whether or not you can pronounce his name. Yes, this is the only author alive who does not know periods exist. Yes, his sentences run forever long across pages. Yes, his work might be difficult to read but his stories are amazing. So step outside of your comfort box and give him a try. It's not like you're disassociating yourself wit ...more
Justin Evans
Thanks to the title, to the hip sort of publications that spruik this novel, the glorious cover art, the unpronounceable last name, and the publisher, I was expecting something like Pynchon for people who find Pynchon too easy to read, too plot-based, and too intellectually void. And yet I read it anyway, which suggests all sorts of Freudian things about me.

Luckily, however, Satantango is just kind of a romp. A gloriously allegorical romp, yes, in which we're asked to consider huge questions ab
Just... I don't know what happened to me. I read and read, barely had a clue what any of it all “meant.” Mostly, reading Satantango was just reading elegant, oblique sentences. Rainfall, dancing, cigarettes, glass after glass of palinka (fuck, even their booze is off-kilter), and an oppressive mood of distortion and black emptiness, the same feeling you get after you've watched a Von Trier film.

And I think that's the point.

Americans like novels with plotlines that arc as gracefully as the trajec
Stephen Durrant
Wow, bleak is thy name "Satantango!" A group of people trapped in a community that is dying, all of them victims of their own selfish delusions and other dysfunctions, constant, miserable rainfall--put simply not an iota of hope. Or maybe there is in the return of Irimias, once a leader in the community who everyone thought was long dead. Maybe he'll save them . . . or maybe damn them This all unfolds in Krasznahorkai's relentlessly dark prose. So did I like it? Surely the wrong question. Let's ...more
Stephen P
a book i wished to return to not one i could not put down. the author leads us on a bleak following of people left with no tangible sense of hope. they escape the experience of life and themselves through a variety of means of withdrawal and avoidance while they wait the return of a dubious character, who they have imbued with the powers of saving them. they ask not for particulars but bolster each other in their faith. the book is filled with religious-spiritual nihilistic dance steps. i found ...more
The reviews for this, while faultlessly emphatic on its dark depressingness somehow, through this very emphasis, made me imagine something more vivaciously, energetically dark and depressing. More frenzied, I think. The reality is drearier. This begins with some depressed, desultory characters in a Hungarian village abandoned except by them. The buildings are rotting, falling apart, the inhabitants unable to prevent them from returning to the primeval mud. The monotony is broken up by the arriva ...more
Contains spoilers.

If I change one letter in the famous dictum of Julian of Norwich I can, I think, reach the core of László Krasznahorkai's world-view: All shall be hell, and all shall be hell and all manner of things shall be hell.

In Satantango, as in The Melancholy or Resistance and War and War, we are presented with worlds without pity in which all hope is vested in a single possibility which, once realised, begins to make everything much worse than it was and then, of course, there are the
Jack Waters
Structured with the forward/back variations of a tango dance, Krasznahorkai weaves in an itinerant narrative of a fallen village/ideology in which hopes & deceptions & visions & depravity & nostalgia & wishes & manipulations guide characters in their rises and falling, with schemes concocted at times as if they were possessed.

It's very sad, in that characters are displayed taking action or inaction while at wits end and also subscribing to a devotion of fantasy of some so
lyell bark
this book isn't as relentlessly grim as melancholy of reistance or war and war, which is one of the most relentlessly grim pieces of fiction i've ever read probably. everyone is covered in mud and slime the w hole time though, so it's good. and it's actually kind of funny sometimes even. the best part is at the end when the doctor discovers that order is imposed upon chaos by not cleaning your room. i tell that to my mom but she won't listen. jokes on her i'm 36 years old i don't have to do whta ...more
Michael Seidlinger
With every pull of the next sentence, I'm led deeper into the strange darkness of this book. There isn't a paragraph small enough not to swallow me whole. By the time I closed its covers, it was already clear that the book had been the one to read me. It read everything I could have said to summarize and give it any justice and, clearly, whatever I could have typed here, it wasn't enough.
Joseph Nicolello
Krasznahorkai is the rarest of reminders: That there is still, aside from myself, a serious writer of literary fiction left on earth. I am surprised there is not a secret no-trial prison in existence for such astonishing story-tellers. I have to see Tarr's cinematic metamorphosis. I cannot even believe such a thing exists. 1994.
Review #19 of "Year of the Review All Read Books"

Critic Vivian Mercier once described Beckett's Waiting for Godot as "a play in which nothing happens, twice." Laszlo Kraznahorkai's Satantango is an attempt at trying to make nothing happen continuously. In considering the title's relation to dance the thought occurs that a dance is a form of nothing. Or rather a doing with no purpose or end goal. There is no prescribed end, except for when the music stops. Likewise in Satantango the story doesn't
Sara G
Jan 27, 2013 Sara G rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fans of João Guimarães Rosa
I admit that I vainly bought this book because of how I imagined it looking on my bookshelves. The sort of books I enjoy are normally only published in paperback, so this hardcover tome seemed like a rare delicacy. The design is stark and elegant; no artwork marring its blackness except for silver lines weaving a complicated dance pattern. I had to have it, so much so that I cheated on my self-imposed book buying limit for the month.

Satantango is a Hungarian novel, originally published in 1985,
Robert Beveridge
László Krasznahorkai, Satantango (New Directions, 1985)

Satantango, Béla Tarr's seven-and-a-half-hour masterpiece of slow film, is infamous for being obtuse, joyless, not to mention bloody hard to sit through (to my knowledge, it has never been shown theatrically without at least one dinner-length intermission; I watched it the first time over the course of a week). It's also one of my top twenty all-time favorite movies, so when word came down that after a quarter-century we were finally getting
Kirk Marshall
As I'm certain it was for many others — not least because, the conventional lagtime in publishing a comprehensive English-language translation of a work of formidable world literature notwithstanding, this constitutes his début novel — this is the first of Krasznahorkai's fiction I've devoured. In that spirit, I'm compelled to verify that (as with all those who've heretofore asserted their uninhibited appreciation for Krasznahorkai's fiction) Satantango is an unqualified masterpiece of narrative ...more
Satantango has some truly amazing and wonderful sentences in it:

"He gazed sadly at the threatening sky, at the burned-out remnants of a locust-plagued summer, and suddenly saw on the twig of an acacia, as in a vision, the progress of spring, summer, fall and winter, as if the whole of time were a frivolous interlude in the much greater spaces of eternity, a brilliant conjuring trick to produce something apparently orderly out of chaos, to establish a vantage point from which chance might begin t
Loredana Adriana
Nu pot să cred așa ceva!! Krasznahorkai s-a jucat cu mintea mea în ultimul hal! E o carte de 5 stele, iar autorul a meritat din plin să ia Man Booker International Prize. Scriitura e captivantă, deși în roman nu se întâmplă mare lucru, pe alocuri sunt presărate scene amuzante și ironice, iar personajele sunt extrem de bine conturate. Fiecare cu personalitatea lui.
Incredibil... o carte care m-a uluit și care mă face s-o aplaud în reluare, pentru simplul fapt că, în general, aș fugi mâncând pământ
Kathleen Jones
I've always loved the Bela Tarr film of this novel and was almost afraid that I would find the book disappointing. But the novel, translated by George Szirtes, is brilliant and never clashed with the film once - in fact the film illuminated areas of the novel for me.

In the novel a group of people are left to fend for themselves on a derelict 'estate' somewhere in soviet Europe where the political system is breaking down. Unable to make decisions for themselves, they are waiting for 'something t
Curtis Ackie
Satantango, the book behind Béla Tarr’s masterpiece of the same name, is the tale of a group of rain sodden villagers trapped in a web of false hopes, schemes and betrayal. I watched the film before reading the book, but this didn’t ruin the reading experience at all, now it’s difficult to decide which I prefer. There is so much to love about this book, from Krasznahorkai’s swirling sentences, which are often whole pages long, to the humour beneath the melancholy and despair of its desperate cha ...more
MJ Nicholls
Aug 27, 2014 MJ Nicholls marked it as sampled  ·  review of another edition
Not in the mood for bunched-up claustrophobic murderous Beckettian run-on prose-in-hell at the moment.
Chad Post
It's been years since I read The Melancholy of Resistance, but this makes me want to go back and reread all of his previous major works. Amazing how all the pieces slide together and how he's able to maintain a certain sort of pre-apocalyptic tension throughout. So damn good.
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/lit/ Revival of ...: * Week 010:Satantango 14 81 Feb 19, 2013 01:07AM  
Loosed in Transla...: Column in Northwest Booklovers 2 11 Aug 30, 2012 05:25AM  
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  • A Journey Round My Skull
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  • The Walk
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László Krasznahorkai is the difficult, peculiar, obsessive, visionary Hungarian author of eight novels.

He is probably best known through the oeuvre of the director Béla Tarr, who has collaborated with him on several movies. He is also the 2015 Man Booker International Prize Winner.

More about László Krasznahorkai...
The Melancholy of Resistance War & War Seiobo There Below Animalinside Északról hegy, Délről tó, Nyugatról utak, Keletről folyó

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“Quietly, continually, the rain fell and the inconsolable wind that died then was forever resurrected ruffled the still surfaces of puddles so lightly it failed to disturb the delicate dead skin that had covered them during the night so that instead of recovering the previous day's tired glitter they increasingly and remorselessly absorbed the light that swam slowly out of the east.” 19 likes
“Get it into your thick head that jokes are just like life. Things that begin badly, end badly. Everything's fine in the middle, it's the end you need to worry about.” 6 likes
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