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4.11  ·  Rating details ·  5,309 ratings  ·  796 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 i ...more
Kindle Edition, 288 pages
Published March 5th 2012 by New Directions (first published 1985)
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naser ghalamkari رمانی آخرالزمانی که کارگردان بزرگ مجارستانی بلا تار فیلمی شاهکار بر اساس آن ساخت.

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May 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  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
“Far surpasses all the lesser concerns of contemporary writing.”
-W. G. Sebald.

"In that case, I’ll miss the thing by waiting for it.”
- Franz Kafka.

As I step out of the world of Krasznahorkai, I feel a deep hollowness inside my heart as if there is some force which is wrenching it, for I am leaving the dark Hungarian countryside where the Satantango- the dance of devil, took place. It is like I've been always on the verge of entering into the world of Satantango itself (like living on the brane
May 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: not the faint-hearted, not the prejudiced; mostly keen listeners
For a rainbow-chaser and flower-collector, satan-tango is not exactly the kind of event to spend an many evenings on. The brightness is pleasing odour and the not-so-brightness is forever under verdict. But there I stayed; lurking under the disturbing, frequently tingling, always jagging edges of this strange melody oozing from the tango being played in a far land in Hungary.

In an unknown, abandoned terrain, the devil strikes my world with a soft morning hoot, a touch so ethereal, so cajoling t
Jan 19, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hungarian
Lunatics in Charge of the Asylum

Satantango is an allegory of the decline of the Communist state into a sort of primitive capitalism. The mouldering, almost derelict estate with its confused and despairing residents, looking toward a de-industrialized East, all hoping to move West as soon as they scrape the funds together. The remnants of a police state that is no longer subject to the authority of the police but to its former informers. The drunken villagers who desperately desire a messiah in w
A Tale of Prophesy, Foreshadowing, Coming, Death, Resurrection, and Testament - and it is not the Bible.

But scary and dark as it is, Satantango got many points right that the Bible didn't (because it is told in too many contradictory voices, like a random stampede).

A tango is danced with structure, with different orchestrated movements leading in one direction, even though the dancers step back occasionally, following the music of the Pied Piper summoning humanity to create a meaningless yet p
Jan 27, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Satantango by Laszlo Krasznahorkai has received numerous great reviews and write ups but for me this was a very depressing and claustrophobic read. Longlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize in 2013 but it was the cover that caught my attention as I browsed in a book shop and I am a sucker for a great cover.

In the darkening embers of a communist Utopia, life in a desolate Hungarian village has come to a virtual standstill when the charismatic Irimias long thought to dead returns home.
Mar 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 07, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A powerful open text, one rife with both fire and human failures. As I quipped early, it's a Faulkner noir in the Magyar mud. What ripens and stings is more akin to Beckett: a waiting for IKEA, with ideological trappings.

The novel opens essentially with a bell in the night. Then it rains.

The contemporary reader will ascribe a historical arc to the symbolism, unfortunately the novel was written in 1985. INXS didn't script the Velvet Revolution. Many phenomenon are repositioned after the fact.

Steven Godin
Sep 29, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hungary, fiction
First published in Hungary in 1985 this cleverly constructed, often exhilarating, but relentlessly bleak novel is now something of a cult classic. Krasznahorkai's vision is of the likes you just don't come across that often. This book stands out from the crowd, along with everything else he has written. The story centres on the arrival of a man who may or may not be a prophet, or the devil, or just a violent being, out to cause unrest in a rotting, perishing, rain-sodden Hungarian hamlet where a ...more
ἀρχαῖος (arkhaîos) In Lockdown
Once again, I wrote a full review and then, as I was about to save it, I accidently changed screens and deleted it. It was brilliant. It really was. I spent two hours on it.

I even made some great connections to Goethe's Faust (Easter bells announcing the resurrection and 'Walpurgisnacht') and to Nietzsche's eternal return.

I believe that I have captured the spirit of the book by deleting the review. Absurd.

I highly recommend it.
Dan Williamson
May 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Hungarian “estate” in which most of Satantango takes place is a desperate, squalid, and miserable place. Its inhabitants have given up, more or less. Their despair is ubiquitous: It practically shimmers off the walls of the buildings. On the morning in which the novel begins, the narrator tells us that it 'was hard to know whether the gently vibrating patches on the wall were merely shadows or the symptoms of the despair underlying their faintly hopeful thoughts.' The sense of their despair ...more
The setting was half-familiar to me from reading Polish literature recently, the run-down central European village - most like the one in Andrzej Stasiuk's Tales of Galicia (1995), but ten years earlier, as Eastern Bloc Communism crumbles, (not afterwards, as everyone looks around, bewildered, asking "what now?") As if villages in Olga Tokarczuk had fallen into disrepair, or Wioletta Greg without the Cider With Rosie glow. The German names in Satantango surprised me for a minute, but of course, ...more
Dec 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Satantango is a truly strange, unsettling and powerful novel. Narrated in a dense, inscrutable style, the writing is beautiful and evocative, expressing a bleak desperation in which the filth and odour are palpable. The narrative style and structure are entirely disorienting. The novel constantly shifts perspectives; its hidden intentions seeming to signify something sinister lurking beneath the surface. There is a biblical quality to the writing, which suggests an allegory, but an allegory of w ...more
Nov 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A kind of contemporary Beckett, I guess, with shades of Danilo Kis (?) Far more detail sketched of the human being in his characters than Beckett, but that’s not what Beckett was on anyway, and LK does a more maximalist world-building. Thorough fallenness and dread. Excellent.
Beckett and Kafka dancing a devilish tango on the Hungarian plains
Mud, dripping rain, cobwebs,… almost every page of this novel is literally drenched in filth. Krasznahorkai (° 1954) sketches the gloomy life in a village in the Hungarian countryside, apparently still in communist times, although that all is kept rather vague. But it is not a static picture: from the start there are tumultuous scenes. Only very gradually, and after several changes in perspective, it becomes clearer what is going
Apr 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: eastern-europe
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 alway
E. G.
Mar 21, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to E. G. by: Karellen

A Note about the Author
A Note about the Translator
M. Sarki
Aug 27, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

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
W.D. Clarke
Oct 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
there was nothing to hear however hard he listened but the dull beating of his own heart, as if the whole thing had been merely a kind of game or ghostly half-dream (“ . . . It’s as if somebody out there wants to scare me’).

Woah, definitely wasn't expecting that ending. What a tour de force this was, not a sentence outta place either. Count me in as a fan, and will definitely read his second novel soon, and work toward the present. & guess I have to buckle-up, strap-in & etc. and watch th
Dec 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: media-ebooks
One thing is clear after this reading: Even wild horses couldn’t drag me to the Great Hungarian Plain. I don’t want to hang dead over the fence there (although this actually applies to all areas).

A page-turner this was not. I had to force myself each time to pick up the book again and continue reading and then I could only persevere for one or two chapters before I got stuck in the ever-present mud. Krasznahorkai turned dreariness into an art form here. Are all of his novels like that? I hope no
João Reis
"Satantango" is a good book, but far from being the masterpiece heralded by many. Krasnahorkai is a competent writer, but he indulges too much in his craftmanship, and so his dark humour and funny dialogues get often blended with long "show-off" paragraphs, somewhat reminiscent of the immature (destroyed long ago) writings of my 24-26 years old.
There's too many loose ends, but not in the good sense, and the general lack of cause-effect is not redeemed by an emotional or truly symbolic achieveme
Nov 18, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of those books that will crank your reading insecurities off the scale. Here you are, reading what is widely regarded to be a modern classic, and you're scrambling to understand the implications of what's going on. LKs prose is so absorbing you hardly even notice the fact that you can't make heads of anything, but you have that creeping feeling that you are in over your head. Surely the picture will become more clear, right? No, ambiguity seems to be the point here. At one point I felt like ...more
Sátántangó (1994): film only

Description: In a small dilapidated village in 1990s Hungary, life has come to a virtual standstill. The autumn rains have started. The villagers expect to receive a large cash payment that evening, and then plan to leave. Some want to abscond earlier with more than their fair share of the money. However they hear that the smooth talking Irimias, whom they thought had died, is coming back. They are apprehensive that he will take all their money in one of his grandiose
Chuck LoPresti
Mar 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Stephen P(who no longer can participate due to illness)
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
Feb 15, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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:
Aravindakshan Narasimhan

An alternative continuation to the ending, a fateful closure to the perfect novel or an ode to the great writer Krasznahorkai :

As soon as they rounded the bend and lost sight of the people waving and hanging around by the bar, the spiders that have assembled at strategic points, displaced by calculated proximity could finally let out a sigh of relief, that after all these dramas that were unraveling in front of them from the moment the bell had tolled, had now come to a point of a classic denoue
Jul 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic novel. Superb atmospheres. Shifting perspectives. Sometimes confusing. Then focussed. Sometimes funny. Then deeply existential. Poetic, sure! There is something strange and magic with these Hungarian novels. Is it the language? The society? The way of seeing? Definitely tastes like more ! A new journey into Hungarian Literature begins.
May 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is unremitting. I'm not sure if that's a virtue. Mud, rain, night... Cracked plaster, drunken desires, Mammon... Oh and acacias, we mustn't forget the acacias. Long chapters often focusing on a single character, paragraphs 27 pages in length... A series of somewhat indistinguishable lowlife characters... Kráner, Schmidt, Halics and Futaki, the Doctor, Landlord and Headmaster, Kelemen and Kerekes... all merging into one, apart from the sinister, charismatic Irimiás, the novel's dark cen ...more
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László Krasznahorkai is a Hungarian novelist and screenwriter who is known for critically difficult and demanding novels, often labelled as postmodern, with dystopian and bleak melancholic themes.

He is probably best known through the oeuvre of the director Béla Tarr, who has collaborated with him on several movies.

Krasznahorkai has been honored with numerous literary prizes, among them the highes

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“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.” 28 likes
“Irimiás: God is not made manifest in language, you dope. He's not manifest in anything. He doesn't exist... God was a mistake. I've long understood there is zero difference between me and a bug, or a bug and a river, or a river and a voice shouting above it. There's no sense or meaning in anything. It's nothing but a network of dependency under enormous fluctuating pressures. It's only our imaginations, not our senses, that continually confront us with failure and the false belief that we can raise ourselves by our own bootstraps from the miserable pulp of delay. There's no escaping that, stupid.” 21 likes
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