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The Melancholy of Resistance

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  1,683 Ratings  ·  215 Reviews
The Melancholy of Resistance, László Krasznahorkai’s magisterial, surreal novel, depicts a chain of mysterious events in a small Hungarian town. A circus, promising to display the stuffed body of the largest whale in the world, arrives in the dead of winter, prompting bizarre rumors. Word spreads that the circus folk have a sinister purpose in mind, and the frightened citi ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published June 17th 2002 by New Directions (first published 1989)
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László Krasznahorkai, I am nervous. Isn't that ridiculous? I'm actually nervous about writing a review for your novel The Melancholy of Resistance because I just finished scanning through the (few) other reviews on this site and saw that they were mostly perfunctory in their praise, somewhat soulless and academic, and insufficiently rapturous.

This is an amazing book! Don't they understand that? When you've heard the word of god (and here it is), you just don't dither around with propriety or th
Helen Ροζουλί Εωσφόρος   Vernus Portitor Arcanus Ταμετούρο   Αμούν Arnum
Στο ερώτημα:
πρέπει να εναντιωθούμε, να αντιπαλέψουμε την καταστροφή του κόσμου -έστω συνειδησιακά- ή να απολαύσουμε με κρυφή λαχτάρα τη μελαγχολία της εντροπίας χωρίς καμία αντίσταση -αφού τη στιγμή που αρχίζει η διαδικασία αποσύνθεσης δεν μπορούμε να επέμβουμε,η κατάσταση είναι μη αναστρέψιμη, και όλα θα ξαναρχίσουν απο το μηδέν.

Η απάντηση είναι σίγουρα πολυδιάστατη και απευθύνεται σε όσους πιστεύουν στην χαμένη ιερότητα της ανθρωπότητας,σε αναθέματα, κατάρες,αρχέγονους φόβους, άγρια ένστικτα
Steven  Godin
Intelligent, strange and hypnotic, with a slow burning atmosphere of cold fear and impending catastrophe, this completely tears the rule book to shreds and throws the pieces back at you with the most unconventional, extraordinary and EPIC! sentence structuring that I have ever come across that has left me scratching my head thinking...just how on earth!. So under the bleak winter skies of a small decaying Hungarian town where the only colour that seems to be apparent is one of grey, as
thick fog
Sep 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Those who question
Shelves: cold-and-dark, europe
I read The Melancholy of Resistance back in early October and it still haunts me months later. Krasznahorkai creates a dark allegorical novel that is saturated with dread and overflowing with malice as he depicts a city overrun by strange happenings and menacing mobs of strangers during the icy winter. Even if you were to read this on a warms summers day, he would make you feel as if the world outside your window was frozen over and treacherous. This novel deserves a more wide-spread critical ac ...more
I have to give this another go. The first cycle didn't finish. Here's my original review:
I was really enjoying this. The prose is a little dense, and there's no question that the author has a penchant for abstraction, as seen in the musings of the musicologist; but there is also wry humor and elegant surrealism, deftly handled. The opening sequence of the elderly Mrs. Plauf going into hysterics on the train is hilarious. As we move from character (Mrs Eszter) to character (Valushka), the story
Dec 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing
2001. Anthology Film Archives. (one of the great places on the planet: i swear that when one studies taken-from-space photographs a faint heavenly light emanates from manhattan -- if one were to push further in, she'd see that most of it originates from the southeast corner of 2nd ave & 2nd st) a hungarian film the smart people at the newyorkpress raved about. i bought a ticket and dropped into one of those dreadful foldable chairs, fought off the stink of mold and time, and looked back to s ...more
Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘ (of badger and SNAKE)

1.5 stars. You can't even imagine how rare my decision to postpone a review is : I usually rate and review the books I read immediately, for better or for worst.

The Melancholy of Resistance was different.

Indeed my first reaction after closing this novel was, What the Fuck did I just read? Huh? I was so lost between my excitation during the first 30% and the boredom I felt after - in addition to some side-eying (I'll come back to that) - that I left my rating blank on Goodreads and gave myself so
Jul 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, 2013, hungary
This not your laid back summer beach read. Don’t even think of attempting this on a train, a plane, a park, a doctor’s office or anywhere where you won’t be able to focus completely and fall face first into this absurd Hungarian nightmare.

With about three paragraphs in the entire 300 pages, and just a smattering of sentences (I’m exaggerating, but not by much), Melancholy seemed to gush out of Krasznahorkai like a drunken folklore told over a campfire in the darkest pit of a forest.

The first sev
Sep 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Une saison en enfer... It was really terrifying because this fantasy reminded me of modern greek reality, especially everyday disasters in Athens... Krasznahorkai's writing method is like digging, deeper and deeper, until you can not climb back... He is my Nobel Prize winner!...
Stephen P
May 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I open the covers and am on a train. Noisy and disordered, Mrs. Plauf, a conventional middle class woman returning from her yearly sojourn to visit her disabled and housebound sisters, sits among peasants. The order of the country has been disrupted and trains no longer run on schedule. The class system is blurred and separation of class distinction disintegrating.. She thinks only of returning to her apartment and all the objects within providing her comfort.

They are all there and she relaxes
Oct 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition


Na 'Satanstango' in 2012 brengt de Wereldbibliotheek nu een tweede roman van de Hongaar László Krasznahorkai op de markt. Ook in 'De melancholie van het verzet' ontleedt en herschikt Krasznahorkai de wereld tot een nieuwe werkelijkheid die onze kijk op de gebruikelijke orde van de dingen - de orde tussen goed en kwaad, zeg maar – danig ondersteboven haalt en ontregelt. Het kaliber van deze
Jan 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
There are better reviews than this one to read about this book. Here is one. And another. And a third one. (For those who don't know if they want to click, those link to David's, Brian's and Mariel's reviews).

I had very strong feelings of fondness but not love for this book. It would have been a four and a half star book, but it never had that unquantifiable something that pushes a book past the really really like category and into the love category. Maybe I'm just being a superficial bastard
Mar 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: M is for Melancholy. R is for resistance
Recommended to Mariel by: David, brian and Nate
David and brian's reviews. Now no one is reading this so it doesn’t matter that I’m tongued-tied and confused how to express my feelings on The Melancholy of Resistance. (I can will myself to do anything if I tell myself that nothing I do matters. It feels like freedom. Everything I say is bullshit anyway.)
I’ve been doodling whales and stars for days and days. It’s difficult to ever translate those images to outside of me. Hold on, I meant to say that ‘Melancholy’ was translated from the Hungari
May 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Một thành phố nhỏ tầm thường xoàng xĩnh ở Hungari đột nhiên bị náo động bởi sự xuất hiện của một đoàn xiếc kỳ lạ mang theo “một kỳ quan độc nhất vô nhị”: con cá voi to nhất người ta từng thấy nằm trên cái bệ khổng lồ. Và rồi biến cố tưởng như vô thưởng vô phạt này rốt cuộc lại kéo theo một loạt biến cố càng lúc càng bất ngờ, phi thực và bạo liệt, dẫn đến sự nổi loạn toàn diện của cư dân thành phố, mà động lực là âm mưu thâm hiểm của một người đàn bà vốn dĩ bình thường nay chợt nảy ra tham vọng m ...more
Oct 11, 2011 rated it did not like it
The Melancholy of Resistance is, George Szirtes says, ‘a slow lava flow of narrative, a vast black river of type’. And because I adore Szirtes, the poet, I chose to imbue his summation with promises of a linguistic operetta of multifactorial continuo. Alas, he too must earn his daily bread, (being the novel’s translator) and so it transpires, at the end of this epic polity, that he meant what he said entirely literally: a statement of fact rather than a literary endorsement.

A vast black river of
Nate D
Oct 19, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: stargazers and whalewatchers caught up in the whims of power-hunger
Recommended to Nate D by: Bela Tarr
So who knew that Bela Tarr's Werckmeister Harmonies was an adaptation?

This dense, winding novel seemingly condenses much of the tumultuous experience of 20th century Hungary into a few days of carefully cryptic allegory that is stronger and more universal for its lack of easy 1:1 correspondences between its reality and the greater one. The novel was adapted for screen by Tarr with the author and its long sentences and lack of paragraph breaks are reflected in the film's long, seamless takes (of
May 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
There are over 50 reviews of this book on goodreads so I won't sum up the story in any way. Just some comments.

The book is about destruction and decay; disharmony and disorder. It is also about, in a twisted, sad way, harmony and rebirth. Each character wins or loses according to their own take on the world; their own resilience and abilities, both intellectually and morally. (Moral ability?) Of the main characters, Mrs. Eszter, the true Leviathan of the story, through her Machiavellian maneuve
Dec 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ne znam odakle da počnem, sem da dva Krasnahorkaijeva romana u kratkom periodu nisu dobra ideja sem ako ne želite potvrdu kosmosa da svi treba da se obesimo.
Svakako je jasno da je Krasnahorkai, kako sam negde pročitala, pokušao da 'popravi' ono čime je bio nezadovoljan u Satantangu. Meni se čini, pak, da je prvo trebalo prevesti Satantango, pa onda Melanholiju otpora, ne samo zbog hronološkog sleda, već i zbog toga što, uprkos prevodiočevom stavu, mislim da je Satantango tehnički uspeliji roman.
Eddie Watkins
May 19, 2008 rated it really liked it
Luckily I found this book in a local bookstore the day after I saw Bela Tarr's film Werckmeister Harmonies. The author and Tarr have a very close relationship and have collaborated on adapting Krazhnahorkai's novels into films, but I think this is the only novel that has been translated into English.

As with other books, I read this so feverishly (and it begs to be read feverishly as the whole book is one long paragraph, and some sentences go on for pages) that I can't give any kind of detached d
Apr 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ήξερα ήδη από τα δύο προηγούμενα βιβλία του Κσαρναχορκάι που είχα διαβάσει ότι κρατούσα στα χέρια μου ένα εν δυνάμει αριστούργημα και φυσικά δεν διαψεύστηκα. Οι προτάσεις που ξεκινούν και δεν ξέρεις πότε, πώς και σε τι κατάσταση θα βρουν εσένα και τους ήρωες του βιβλίου όταν τελειώσουν είναι πάλι εδώ, η περιρρέουσα ατμόσφαιρα ενός αμετάκλητου ζόφου επίσης, οι λέξεις μοιάζουν να κουβαλούν το βάρος της καταστροφής του κόσμου, είναι και πάλι όμως η μόνη σανίδα σωτηρίας σε ένα εσχατολογικό σύμπαν, α ...more
Christopher Howard
Aug 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
To get its essence entirely one has to read it in the cold. Outside, and at night. Where one can look up to see the stars. Or to not see them. And then wonder if up is really where we are looking.

He glanced up and suddenly had the sensation that the sky wasn't where it was supposed to be; terrified, he looked up again and confirmed the fact that there was indeed nothing there, so he bowed his head and surrendered to the fur caps and the boots, realizing that it was no use to search because what
Jul 04, 2011 added it
Shelves: i-really-tried
There are moments of astounding beauty in this book. My personal favourite is when Valuska,the book's holy fool, demonstrates the motion of the planets around the sun in the kind of bar only found only in Hungarian and Slav lit, 'the penny Riesling in their scratch-marked glasses...'. Dark bars they are, where tables rock on their uneven legs and pickling spices permeate the walls. I think I read this stuff for those bars.
Valuska demonstrates the motion of the planets with his fellow drinkers,
Nov 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
De Hongaar Laszlo Krasznahorkai is in Nederland wat minder bekend dan zijn geniale landgenoten Kertesz, Konrad, Nadas en Esterhazy. Maar in het Duitse en Angelsaksische taalgebied geldt hij al tijden als een fenomeen, zeker sinds hij de Man Booker International 2015 heeft gewonnen. Nu wordt hij ook in Nederland ontdekt: in 2012 werd zijn verbluffende debuut "Satanstango" vertaald, en nu ook "Melancholie van het verzet". Over "Satanstango" heb ik flink gejubeld: dat was een geweldig leesfeest voo ...more
Dec 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourite-books
Gewoonlijk gaat het zo. Ik koop een boek, of leen er eentje in de buurtbib, daarna ligt dat boek dan een tijdje op de vensterbank zijn beurt af te wachten, meestal niet zo lang. Dan lees ik het. Daarna babbel ik erover met vrienden, soms zoek ik er uit nieuwsgierigheid nog wat over op en tenslotte schrijf ik een recensietje over op Goodreads. Maar. Met. Dit. Boek. Lukt. Dat. Niet.

Ik ben recensies beginnen schrijven, omdat ik graag lees en graag schrijf. Puur voor mezelf is dat dubbele winst: ik
Apr 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Μετα το συγκλονιστικο Πολεμος και πολεμος οι προσδοκιες ηταν πολυ μεγαλες οι οποιες ομως επαληθευτηκαν στο επακρο. Αλλο ενα μεγιστο επιτευγμα απο τον Ουγγρο συγγραφεα η γραφη του οποιου σε σφυροκοπαει με ανελεητο τροπο προκαλωντας σφιξιμο στο στομαχι, τεντωμα των νευρων και υπερδιεγερση του εγκεφαλου. Νοητικοι λαβυρινθοι και παραληρηματικοι συλλογισμοι διατρεχουν ολο το κειμενο μεσα σε ενα σκοτεινο, μιζερο και ζοφερο περιβαλλον γεματο απο γκροτεσκες ανθρωπινες φιγουρες που παλευουν αναμεσα στην ...more
Justin Evans
Feb 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
I'm starting to think that when people say a book is 'in the tradition of Gogol,' they really mean 'it's set somewhere East of Paris but West of Tokyo.' I guess this is in the tradition of Gogol, inasmuch as it's satirical, and not from Western Europe. But the point of Krasznahorkai's novel is not slight mockery-of-the-rurals. It is the sentences, the paragraphs rather, which pile up and leave you nowhere to go--and thank all that is holy for George Szirtes, who has made this masterpiece accessi ...more
Jim Elkins
Oct 09, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: hungarian
The Triviality of Plot, As Opposed to Condition

It's just not possible not to read a book that is endorsed by W.G. Sebald and Susan Sontag, and whose author -- and his amazing translator -- can write sentences like this:

"To be wise, however, soberly to anticipate what might lie in store, was truly no easy task, for it was as is some vital yet undetectable modification had taken place in the eternally stable composition of the air, in the very remoteness of that hitherto faultless mechanism or unn
Jul 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
okay so i just now finished this one, and i gotta say that last 3 pg run of decomposition, from biochemical to philosophical was just astounding. the last time i viscerally reacted to an ending like that was fowles 'the collector'. of course the book is kind of like trying to speed walk through the ocean, but i set a healthy 10-20 pgs at a time pace for myself so i didn't feel like i was trying to chew peanut butter for hours on end.

these characters are amazing for their universality is central
Tanuj Solanki
Nov 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
Awake beneath the pestilential mango
worth-a-dime sobs:
roil of dried pollen, devil’s conspicuousness
in the kitchen garden that led to leftovers.

You have a chameleon close to your ear
a killer tongue about to tingle
roughly and remind of recent pasts.
In the movement of the earth
gentle winds:
trigonometric cityscapes, crystal balls.

Like T’s absent rhymes. . .
History has shown that sometimes one simple act can turn a city upside down and fuel a chain of events which leaves the populace aching to “figure it out” meanwhile trying to stick to their norms. Laszlo Krasznahorkai explores this idea in his novel, “The Melancholy of Resistance” translated from Hungarian into English by the gifted translator, George Szirtes.

“The Melancholy of Resistance” follows the fear of change and the unknown following the arrival of a circus into a Hungarian town. The re
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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...
“Catastrophe! Of course! Last judgement! Horseshit! It's you that are the catastrophe, you're the bloody last judgement, your feet don't even touch the ground, you bunch of sleepwalkers. I wish you were dead, the lot of you. Let's make a bet,' and here he shook Nadaban by the shoulders, ‘that you don't even know what I'm talking about!! Because you don't talk, you "whisper" or "expostulate"; you don't walk down the street but "proceed feverishly"; you don't enter a place but "cross its threshold", you don't feel cold or hot, but "find yourselves shivering" or "feeling the sweat pour down you"! I haven't heard a straight word for hours, you can only mew and caterwaul; because if a hooligan throws a brick through your window you invoke the last judgement, because your brains are addled and filled up with steam, because if someone sticks your nose in shit all you do is sniff, stare and cry "sorcery!” 8 likes
“you have every cause for anxiety. we are on the threshold of a more searching, more honest, more open society. there are new times just around the corner” 5 likes
More quotes…