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Kornél Esti

4.2  ·  Rating Details ·  689 Ratings  ·  48 Reviews
Crazy, funny and gorgeously dark, Kornél Esti sets into rollicking action a series of adventures about a man and his wicked dopplegänger, who breathes every forbidden idea of his childhood into his ear, and then reappears decades later.

Part Gogol, part Chekhov, and all brilliance, Kosztolányi in his final book serves up his most magical, radical, and intoxicating work. Her
Paperback, 233 pages
Published February 25th 2011 by New Directions (first published 1933)
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Mar 12, 2012 Jia-yi rated it it was amazing
For the rest of 2012, I'm just going to quote this book instead of having conversations.

Description: Crazy, funny and gorgeously dark, Kornél Esti sets into rollicking action a series of adventures about a man and his wicked dopplegänger, who breathes every forbidden idea of his childhood into his ear, and then reappears decades later.

Part Gogol, part Chekhov, and all brilliance, Kosztolányi in his final book serves up his most magical, radical, and intoxicating work. Here is a novel which inquires: What if your id (loyally keeping your name) decides to strike out on its own, cuts
Chuck LoPresti
Apr 01, 2011 Chuck LoPresti rated it it was amazing
Second read through Kosztolanyi's final novel and of what is translated into English - his best. Based on the premise that you can't be an interesting writer if you're not an interesting person - Kosztolanyi splits his identity to maximize his potential. There are many facets to this episodic adventure and it really lends itself to re-reading. The most obvious comparison is the Swift-like consideration of how varied environments provoke varied responses. A good writer should be able to draw from ...more
Nov 05, 2016 Skip rated it it was ok
Originally published in 1936, this is the seminal work of a famous Hungarian writer. I was drawn to the book by its alluring description: Crazy, funny and gorgeously dark, Kornél Esti sets into rollicking action a series of adventures about a man and his wicked dopplegänger, who breathes every forbidden idea of his childhood into his ear, and then reappears decades later.

Sadly, I was disappointed. Great introduction, but the book quickly degenerated into a series of what I found to be uneven sho
When I first opened this book I was expecting a type of 1930s 'Fight Club', with a Hungarian Tyler Durden causing mischief on the streets of Pest. But what I got instead was a sort of surreal Hungarian 'Seinfeld' with Dezso Kosztolagnyi and his alter ego Kornel Esti sitting eating soup and talking about well, nothing (though with slightly more emotional depth). And it is five different kinds of brilliant. The writing on its own is worth the price of admission, many of Esti's short stories often ...more
Monica Carter
Jan 31, 2011 Monica Carter rated it really liked it
Shelves: february-2011
Flabbergasted, I stared at these nightmare figures, who had certainly--either in my imagination or in real life--at one time lived and breathed, and were now black and dead and cold, like glowing embers after they've cooled, died down, and crumbled to ash. I didn't know them. They, however, knew me and recognized me. Some I told them to go and see Kornel. At that they smiled. Asked for a personal description of him. And at that they derisively pointed at me. They asked for his address. There I
Apr 22, 2016 Mahak rated it really liked it

In Islam, we are told that every human has a djinn with them as a companion, known as a 'humzad'. I don't know the reason as we didn't go into depth. I'm sure you all know that djinns are tricksters and many enjoy mischief and so, reading this book reminded me of just that, Kornel playing that part in my head.

As the story unravels, we come to know that the narrator and Kornel parted ways a while ago. The man is of a sensible mind whom you'll take as the 'good one' and Kornel being the complete
Ana Lucía
Puedes leer también esta reseña en mi blog, Story of a Beginner.

Este libro apareció de la nada y me tomó por sorpresa desde la primera página.

Es decir, fíjense en el título. Fíjense en el autor. A casi un mes de leerlo me sigue sorprendiendo cómo este libro escrito por un autor húngaro en la primera mitad del siglo XX dio a parar en un supermercado cerca a mi casa, incluso en sección de descuento. Más allá de la brecha geográfica y temporal – al fin y al cabo es un mundo globalizado –, es uno de
May 13, 2014 Tracey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is not a story it is an experience of life and death and everything in between.
Surreal is one word to describe it. Full of wonderful words and quotes that I will endeavor to remember but probably will not.
Kosztolanyi/Esti are they one person with two personalities or two people with one ?
laugh out loud funny in parts deep and dark in others.
I discovered Hungarian writers through Sandor Marai's exquisite Embers and I am going to devour many more by these fantastic authors.
Sibel Kaçamak
Dec 26, 2016 Sibel Kaçamak rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Değişik, başlangıçta birbirleriyle pek de bir bağlantısı yok gibi görünen ama okuyucunun kendi bağlantısını kendisinin kurabileceği öykülerden oluşan bir kitap. Gecekuşu Kornelius anlatıcı yazarın altegosu gibi okunabilir. Özellikle beğendiğim öyküler oldu. Şu an kitabı okuması için bir arkadaşıma vermiş olduğumdan isimlerini sayamıyorum. Birinci öykü güzel, tren yolculuğu harika sonlara doğru birilerine yardım elini uzattığı öykü komik geldi. Güzel öyküler ama okurken kendimden bir parça bulama ...more
Apr 18, 2015 Yossi rated it really liked it
This book is the perfect blend between hilarious and witty writing. The premise of the novel really lets us know what's at stake from the very beginning.

The nameless narrator gets to meet his doppelganger, who happens to be everything he is not. The narrator is mild, quiet, peaceful and considerate whereas his doppelganger, Esti Kórnel is blatant, boastful and is fond on pulling pranks on whomever comes his way.

The book starts with the nameless narrator reminiscing about the moments he shared wi
Sep 06, 2012 Stephen rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012
Patchy, at least in the middle where I felt it lulled a little, but this picaresque was definitely worthy of being resurrected in an English translation. Kornel Esti is a lovable rogue, teller of tall tales, and holder of strong opinions. It's little wonder that his creator Kosztolanyi (or perhaps Esti is the creator, Kosztolanyi the alter ego, who knows?) is considered one of the great Hungarian writers. The thread holding this "novel" together is Esti's singular charisma, capable of conversing ...more
Neil Griffin
Jul 23, 2011 Neil Griffin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is my second Dezso book and I've really enjoyed both of them. This is a lot looser and episodic than Skylark but is just as funny. The book is told through the perspective of Dezso's alter ego, Esti Kornel, and details literary cafe life in Hungary around the turn of the century, as well as some detours in pre-war France and German. It's a series of short stories, all of them whimsical and some of them quite funny. I definitely recommend this author. Hungarian literature is quickly becoming ...more
Richard Rimachi
Personajes excelentes (y no solo el protagonista, todos, literalmente todos, son muy bien conformados), prosa excelente (esa alternancia de reflexiones lógicas, humanas y hasta a veces cómicas fue y es una combinación exquisita). La única razón por la que no me explayo es porque ya son casi las once de la noche y tengo que dormir (estoy cansado), pero aun así no puedo dejar de alabar a este libro. Ahhhh, y las historias son redondas y extrañas a la vez. Excelente novela.
Apr 21, 2014 Michael rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, book-club
Each chapter can be taken as an individual entity. The character, if he is that, of Kornel Esti is a good teller of yarns. I especially adored the following chapters: 1) Where he decides to have a conversation in a language he doesn't know, and 2) The one where he first rants on how welcome his guest is, followed shortly by a fantastic diatribe when the guest has worn out his welcome.
Jun 13, 2015 Dada rated it it was amazing
Presretna sam što je ovaj dragulj preveden na hrvatski. Malo sam puta u životu srela tako precizna i smislena zapažanja o ljudima i životu, a bez dociranja i bahatosti. Sve je upakirano u fini i (ne)malko zajedljivi humor, baš po mojoj mjeri.
Jaimie Lau
Oct 27, 2016 Jaimie Lau rated it really liked it
This book was delightful to read. Quick-witted and warm-hearted, it reads as a series of anecdotes, with each chapter being able to be read alone or as part of the novel as a whole. I personally, preferred to read a single chapter and no more in order to really reflect back on what had happened. Many of the stories are so absurd, yet the character of Kornél Esti is so well-developed, that it is in how he tells them, that they take on new life. Just off the top of my head, his making conversation ...more
Aron Kerpel-Fronius
Nov 27, 2016 Aron Kerpel-Fronius rated it really liked it
Budapest <3

A witty, humorous and dark collection of Kosztolanyi's Esti Kornel short stories, which would be entertaining on their own, but have an even deeper impact as a collective.

Kosztolanyi's alterego is alaways up to mischief - he is wicked, fun and independent; as such he completes the author who is already trapped in adult life's responsibilities.

As they decide on writing the book "together", we get the best of both worlds, as late 1920s Budapest, Hungary and Europe come to life on t
Sep 15, 2014 Patrick rated it liked it
In this book, Kosztolanyi gives us stories about Kornel Esti, the alter ego of the narrator (Esti also seems to share many biographical details with Kosztolanyi). In about half the stories, Esti is a character in more or less realistic fiction whom we read about in the third person; in the others, he is relating to the narrator Kafkaesque fantastic tales. There is some great prose here, and funny and poignant observations of human behavior, but the whole thing doesn't really hang together, as if ...more
Aaron (Typographical Era)
Apr 19, 2012 Aaron (Typographical Era) rated it really liked it
Shelves: 1933
Unless you’re familiar with the work of famed Hungarian author Dezső Kosztolányi it’s next to impossible to decipher exactly who’s in charge by viewing the packaging of his final novel Kornél Esti. Both names are prominently displayed on the cover and the spine in the same size and font with a simple slash between them which leaves the prospective reader to wonder: is this a novel by someone named Kosztolányi about someone named Esti, a novel by Esti about Kosztolányi, or perhaps even an untitle ...more
Vittorio Ducoli
Feb 10, 2013 Vittorio Ducoli rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
La conferma di un grande autore

Il libro contiene tredici racconti basati sulla figura di Kornél Esti, sorta di alter ego ribelle e politicamente scorretto dell'autore che, viene specificato all'inizio, è infatti nato nello stesso giorno ed alla stessa ora di Kornel.
Alcuni racconti sono veramente strepitosi, venati di una ironia e di un cinismo che portano il lettore ad un amaro sogghigno. Su tutti, a mio avviso, svetta il capitolo nono, satira feroce dell'animo tedesco ed elogio della tolleranza
Feb 04, 2015 Ingrid rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I became a true Adult Reader when I met Candide. Sitting in high school English class amongst the usual teenage oafs and bullies, trying to hear the teacher over the hormonal din, I remember clearly how surprised I was that I found it funny -- like, truly funny -- despite the fact that it had been written 250 years ago. Voltaire had communicated something to me across the generations, across language and culture barriers, and made me laugh. (Probably a joke about butts, but I never claimed to be ...more
Mar 30, 2012 Andrea rated it really liked it
At turns absurd, dark, and hilarious. This novel is told in excerpts from the life of the narrator's mischievous doppelganger. While some stories, like those about the town where all of the advertisements tell the terrible truth, or the one in which Esti tries at length to give away a sizable amount of money that he was left by a distant aunt, or the one in which all of the numerous overly-attentive staff of a ridiculously well-appointed hotel perfectly resemble famous historical figures, are ju ...more
Justin Labelle
Nov 20, 2016 Justin Labelle rated it really liked it
"Kornel Esti was not such an ingrate. He forgot nothing that happened, he remembered everything that was really important"
He could swim better than anyone there, but his imagination also functioned better than theirs. Therefore he was a coward"
The real curse in this world is planning, and true happiness the lack of it.
He know that everything was hopelessly relative, and that there was no reliable means of assessment.

The joys of sleep, miscommunication, struggle and artistic creation are the them
William S.
Aug 07, 2013 William S. rated it it was amazing
By far one of the most enjoyable, well written, and passionately truthful books I have ever read. This book perhaps beats the swarms of others, taking the seat as my favorite. Everything is done to perfection: the collection of wonderful fragmentary stories like life, the expected but surprising reversals and slights of hand, and even better, the wonderful character of Kornel Esti himself. I recommend this book to all humans wishing for a pleasurable literary read that will force them to read it ...more
Niki Vervaeke
Oct 24, 2015 Niki Vervaeke rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fictie
Een aankoop bij de tweedehands boekenverkoop van de bib, kortverhalen, van Kosztolányi zelf had ik nog nooit gehoord.
Een aaneenschakeling van korte verhalen, soms heel treffend, soms absurd, vaak met de glimlach gelezen.
Er zit af en toe filosofie in (Geluk), soms krijg je bizarre taferelen voorgeschoteld. De auteur slaagt er soms in om een heel leven in enkele zinnen neer te zetten. Al bij al fijn boek. Van een bevreemdende lichtheid.
Jan 15, 2016 Bram rated it really liked it
Being a massive Krasznahorkai fan I thought I'd check out one the books that influenced him. Odd, episodic and greatly uneven, this Hungarian classic from 1933 is defies expectations mostly because it's hard to quite work out. I'm still not sure whether it is a cool meditation on the concept of the double a la Dostoevsky and Saramago or an uncomfortably dense picaresque. Some hilarious moments, some brilliant ideas and yet, for some reason I can't quite put my finger on, I wasn't sold overall.
Élveztem a kalandjait, szívesen vele tartottam volna némelyik utazására. Alapvetően egy érdekes embernek ismertem meg Estit és rajta keresztül Kosztolányit. Azonban be kell vallanom egy-egy fejezet igazán igénybe vette a türelmemet, hogy ne csukjam össze és tegyem le. Ennek ellenére összességében ez a könyv a vidám és szellemes írás tökéletes keveréke.
Frida Arriaga
Muy interesante. Amé el principio, empezó muy bien. Aunque los capítulos largos se vuelven algo tediosos, pero sólo son como tres. De hecho cada capítulo podría ser un cuento corto.
Tiene un humor muy particular y el uso de las metáforas es sensacional. Tiene partes filosóficas que hacen reflexionar sobre la vida.
Jun 07, 2011 Vince rated it really liked it
I found this book hilarious. Each of the stories is at least a little funny, and some are uproarious. A few are darker or sad. It reminded me a bit of Catch 22. I think the translation was pretty good and I liked the footnotes, which explained certain untranslated words or phrases, and wished there were more.
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Dezső Kosztolányi was a famous Hungarian poet and prose-writer.

Kosztolányi was born in Szabadka (Subotica) in 1885, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, but which now lies in northern Serbia. The city serves as a model for the fictional town of Sárszeg, in which he set his novella Skylark as well as The Golden Kite. Kosztolányi studied at the University of Budapest, where he met the poets Mih
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“He sat there among them, listened to the buzz of their conversation. He was captivated by them. In that racket every voice touched a key in his soul. He didn’t understand life. He had no conception of why he had been born into the world. As he saw it, anyone to whose lot fell this adventure, the purpose of which was unknown but the end of which was annihilation, that person was absolved from all responsibility and had the right to do as he pleased—for example, to lie full length in the street and begin to moan without any reason—without deserving the slightest censure. But precisely because he considered his life as a whole an incomprehensible thing, he understood its little details individually—every person without exception, every elevated and lowly point of view, every concept—and those he assimilated at once.” 8 likes
“A kávéház az újságíró temploma.” 3 likes
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