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Kaddish for an Unborn Child

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3.81 of 5 stars 3.81  ·  rating details  ·  606 ratings  ·  57 reviews
The first word in this mesmerizing novel by the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature is “No.” It is how the novel’s narrator, a middle-aged Hungarian-Jewish writer, answers an acquaintance who asks him if he has a child. It is the answer he gave his wife (now ex-wife) years earlier when she told him that she wanted one. The loss, longing and regret that haunt the years...more
ebook, 128 pages
Published December 18th 2007 by Vintage (first published 1990)
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Eugene
a great and dark autobiographical book, speaking impossible truths with brazen and an often almost obscene courage... a courage so courageous it becomes obscene.

echoing bernhard -- whom kertesz has translated -- this is a great monologue of negation and destruction, which nonetheless (hopelessly) creates. speaking about the one thing that saved him ("albeit it saved me for the sake of destruction"), i.e. his work, kertesz writes, "In those years I recognized my life for what it was: as a fact on...more
Jonfaith
This piercing unbroken paragraph novella ups the emotional and philosophical ante concerning the Shoah and leaves only scorched earth and tattered memories in its wake. Throughout the work there a number of nods to Bernhard, whereas Kertesz further gilds the homage to the Austrian with trademark recurrences and stilted rhythms. These circumstances extend beyond, of course. The decision reached is also an imperative, one which still bears considerable weight.
Kris McCracken
Kaddish for a Child Not Born by Imre Kertész is one of a series of four novels which examine the life of a man who survives the Nazi concentration camps of World War II.

If Fatelessness offered a relatively conventional narrative approach, Kaddish for an Unborn Child, written fifteen years later, is anything but. It is a difficult novel of repetition and ambiguity, the narrator acknowledging all his uncertainty, and constantly reminding the reader of the difficulty of exact expression. In many re...more
Hanna
There were parts, formally and tonally, that reminded me of Ponge's Soap and Dostoevsky's Notes from the Underground. However, the prose in Kaddish feels far less intentional or purposeful than either of those texts it is resembling. While I understand and appreciate what this book is trying to accomplish -- a painfully honest psychological portrait of its author through unmediated stream of consciousness -- for me it falls short aesthetically. The formal structure it seems to be following in th...more
Seth the Zest
While I had planned to read only twenty pages today because the books so dense, I found myself so drawn into the book that I had to finish almost all of it in one burst. I realized after a few pages that a paragraph hadn't ended and so I naturally wanted to see when it would so I could put the book down and go do something else. I believe it lasted twenty pages. So I then looked for a logical stopping point but couldn't find one. And one thing led to another and I finished it as if in a dream. T...more
Zoltán
Kaddis: ősrégi ima, mely "egyértelműen Isten dicsőítéséről szól", "a gyásszal sújtott hozzátartozók ezzel (...) azt szeretnék kifejezésre juttatni, hogy súlyos fájdalmuk ellenére sem veszítették el hitüket."
Mi is ez a könyv? Szerintem egyetlen mély lélegzetvételre kiadott vallomás, önmarcangolás, egy tönkretett élet magából kiokádott krédója. Könyv arról, amiről sem beszélni, sem írni nem lehet, mégis beszélni és írni kell. Könyv arról, ami feldolgozhatatlan, s amelynek feldogozása mégis egy tel...more
Julia Boechat Machado
Kertész se recusa a ter filhos após Auschwitz - não só porque não pode prometer ao seu filho hipotético que ele não passará pelo mesmo sofrimento, não só porque um mundo em que existiu Auschwitz não é um mundo que valha a pena. Kertész não quer ser a autoridade suprema, o Auschwitz de alguém.
Muito interessante, bem argumentado e bem escrito. Quero ler mais livros desse autor.
James Taylor
Brutally honest! Victims of the holocaust are at times treated as immune to criticism out of fear/respect for their experience. Imre reveals the private and sometimes ugly side of his conscience as he manages as best as possible to cobble some semblance of a life after his captivity. His "decision" throws insight into the absurdity/futility of existence. *This review was written almost a year after having read the book. Please let me know if I'm forgetting a major theme or if I have mischaracter...more
Farhan Khalid
No! I said instantly without hesitation

Since it has become quite natural by now that our instincts should act contrary to our instincts

There is no getting around explanations

We are constantly explaining and excusing ourselves

Life itself, that inexplicable complex of being and feeling, demands explanations of us

Those around us demands explanations

In the end we ourselves demand explanations of ourselves

Until in the end we succeed in annihilating everything around us

In other words explain ourselves...more
Dara Salley
This short novel takes place entirely inside the nervous, active mind of its narrator. The stream of consciousness that we are privy to is prompted by a question posed by a philosopher-acquaintance on an artistic retreat. He asks the narrator if he has any children. This leads to a long chain of thought that encompasses the narrator’s history, philosophy and love life. He describes why his answer to that question is difficult.

This book was written as one long stream of consciousness. There are n...more
Edith
“No!” I will never forget: Kaddish for an Unborn Child by Imre Kertész

Abridged version of my review posted on Edith’s Miscellany on 22 November 2013

The Kaddish is the Jewish prayer for the dead. The narrating protagonist writes his Kaddish for an Unborn Child or to be precise for a son or daughter who could have been, but never even was conceived because he always refused to bring children into a world in which Auschwitz, Buchenwald and concentrations camps like them had been possible. It’s the...more
Megan
Dec 02, 2011 Megan rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lovers of art
Shelves: favorites
Kaddish for an Unborn Child is truly worthy of its esteem, and Imre Kertesz is absolutely worthy of his Nobel Prize. I read the Wilkinson translation, unaware that there was another translation available. Now that I know it has been translated before, I am curious to see for myself how they differ in language, poetics and style.

I found the Wilkinson translation haunting, musical with a unique rhythm to its words. How do you describe something that is so perfectly beautiful? The stream-of-conscio...more
risha
…Скрипки мрачнее чтоб голос ваш дымом густым воспарил в облаках обретешь ты могилу там где не тесно. Целан. Фуга смерти

Хотя в то же время я, конечно, хочу вспоминать, но, хочу или не хочу, выхода у меня нет: если я пишу, я вспоминаю, должен вспоминать, хотя не знаю, почему должен: наверное, ради знания, ведь воспоминание — знание, мы затем и живем, чтобы помнить о том, что мы знаем, потому что нельзя забывать, что узнали, и не бойтесь, ребята, это не какой-то там «моральный долг», полно; просто...more
Κατερίνα Μαλακατέ
Όταν πρωτοδιάβασα το «Καντίς για ένα αγέννητο παιδί»- λίγο μετά την εποχή που πήρε ο Ίμρε Κέρτες το Νόμπελ- ήμουν σε μια διαφορετική φάση ζωής κι η stream of consciousness γραφή του, που μου θύμισε έντονα Μπέρνχαρντ, με άγγιξε αλλά δε με συγκλόνισε. Κοντά δέκα χρόνια μετά ξαναγύρισα στο Καντίς, γιατί μάλλον είχαμε αφήσει ανοιχτούς λογαριασμούς κι η κραυγή του συγγραφέα είχε πάνω μου πολύ μεγαλύτερο αντίκτυπο.

Η νουβέλα ξεκινά με ένα εμφατικό «Όχι», όχι στη συνέχιση της ζωής, στη διαιώνιση του είδ...more
Greg
This is a novel of destruction. It is negative. It is tough to read. That being said, it is worth it. The novel is short, and follows the memory of a man explaining to his friend that he can not bring a child into the world given the horrors of the Holocaust, and the fact that the underlying causes of the Holocaust have not been remedied. He is an unhappy and unlucky man – failing in his career and failing in his own marriage. It is a novel of despair.

Kertesz’s style is quite difficult to read....more
Mariana Orantes
El libro empieza con un ¡NO!. Después, desmenuza las preocupaciones del personaje principal: B, un autor y traductor que tiene pequeños tintes autobiográficos de Kértesz. La novela, después, a la manera de un ensayo, habla del entorno, vivencias y cuestiones personales desarrolladas. Cómo los judíos se asumen, qué hace él como escritor, porqué el mal tiene una explicación y el bien no tiene lógica y así. Sin embargo, también se cuenta una historia. Él, su vida, su ex-esposa, los hijos que no lle...more
Kirsten Ashley
Oct 12, 2008 Kirsten Ashley rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: ww2 lit afficianados, philosophy buffs
Recommended to Kirsten by: Rowan Tepper
This is basically a 95 page rant. The style is very lyrical and manic. Even in my head it's hard to read the words without going at a fervent pace.

The subject matter itself deals with divorce, being a survivor of Auschwitz, the collapse of his marriage, and not wanting to carry on the lineage of the damaged Jew.(Which is not to say that I think every Jewish person is damaged. I'm speaking more of the people who have felt the aftershock of Nazism.) A subject that was touched upon, one that I have...more
Jean d'Arp
Extraits:

"[...:]puisque ce qui est a toujours une explication, même si cette explication est par nature purement arbitraire, erronée, quelconque, mais c'est un fait qu'un fait a au moins deux existences, l'une factuelle et l'autre, pour ainsi dire, spirituelle, un mode d'existence spirituel qui n'est autre qu'une explication, un amoncellement d'explications, et qui plus est, une surexplication des faits, ce qui revient en fin de compte à les annihiler, ou tout au moins à les brouiller."

"[...:]d...more
Jhannas
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Heleen
Aug 18, 2014 Heleen marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Dit boek trok mijn aandacht in de kringloop in Nijmegen. Het is de titel, een joodse schrijver en de Nobelprijs waarom ik het boek niet kon laten liggen.
Ryan
Calling this a novel is a bit of an overstatement ... or an inaccuracy, as overstatement implies that it is something less than a novel, or that it is (was) brought about as an attempt to create a novel, or that it is a novel in miniature. It is none of this. A monologue, 90 some pages, less circuitous than proceeding by fits and starts ... or by refinements constantly rethought, negated, and re-offered. It says very little, says it very precisely, and worries myriad possibilities in arriving at...more
Mazel
C'est pour l'enfant auquel il n'a jamais voulu donner naissance qu'Imre Kertész prononce ici le kaddish - la prière des morts de la religion juive.

D'une densité et d'une véhémence peu communes, ce monologue intérieur est le récit d'une existence confisquée par le souvenir de la tragédie concentrationnaire.

Proférée du fond de la plus extrême souffrance, la magnifique oraison funèbre affirme l'impossibilité d'assumer le don de la vie dans un monde définitivement traumatisé par l'Holocauste.

Ce q...more
Ray
For me, this was a difficult book, I found the never ending sentences, and the over use of commas, maddening, annoying and off putting - there was also a tendency to veer off on a tangent - this was distracting, for me at least, and all in all a frustrating book. And yet there were glimpses, and hints, of enjoyable passages of reading - towards the end mainly - which is probably a reflection of me getting used to the style.

Ellee
This isn't quite stream-of-consciousness writing, but is pretty close. I don't know if that's Kertesz' style or if it's the effect of translation. It's not a quick read for being such a short text. The author refers to Fatelessness (or I think he does anyway) and many similar ideas are expressed. The idea of explaining oneself to his or her unborn children why they weren't born is a very uncomfortable notion if you really think about it. "I was too busy for you" seems pretty feeble compared to "...more
Scruffy Books
The protagonist is incredibly fun to root for.
Video Review
Mari
This is one of the most profound, and most moving, and most profoundly moving works I have read in my life--and certainly within the last year. It's one long run-on paragraph (with many sentences, thank goodness) of a man who is tortured by his relationship with his past: "a tale of identity and memory--the story of a middle-aged man taking stock of his life in the ever-present shadow of the Holocaust." It's extraordinary, and it will not take you long to read...to boot.
Nicholas Whyte
http://nhw.livejournal.com/854859.html[return][return]I guess I shouldn� t try and read heavy literature while I am travelling and feeling under the weather, because I found the peculiar narrative structure of this book rather off-putting. The central human dilemma, an Auschwitz survivor who is looking back on his childlessness and his failed literary career, is an important one, but I couldn� t get into it.
Jarmil Dufek
Jazyk i námět se mi líbí, ale je to na mě moc složitý, špatně a zdlouhavě se mi to četlo.
Kal Ström
För en gång skull ångrar jag att jag inte sträckläste en bok. Det är a stream of conciousness som egentligen inte kan läggas ner, för att få en riktig känsla för tanken.
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Born in Budapest in 1929, Imre Kertész was imprisoned at Auschwitz in 1944, and then at Bunchenwald concentration camp. After the war and repatriation, the Soviet seizure of Hungary ended Kertész's brief career as a journalist. He turned to translation, specializing in German language works, and later emigrated to Berlin. Kertész was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 2002 for "writing that...more
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“I read somewhere; while God still existed one sustained a dialogue with God, and now that He no longer exists one has to sustain a dialogue with other people, I guess, or, better still, with oneself, that is to say, one talks or mumbles to oneself.” 3 likes
“No" — I could never be another person’s father, fate, god,
"No" — it should never happen to another child, what happened to me; my childhood. (Auschwitz).”
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