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Moştenirea Eszterei

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  2,688 ratings  ·  320 reviews
In traditia austriecilor Stefan Zweig, Arthur Schnitzler si Joseph Roth, Sandor Marai isi intoarce privirile spre lumea crepusculara a unui Imperiu Austro-Ungar de un farmec desuet, in care rescrie o poveste de dragoste pierduta printre scrisori disparute, mosteniri disputate si inele ratacite.

Intr-o casa in ruina, insingurata Eszter isi confrunta dupa douazeci de ani pas
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Paperback, 128 pages
Published 2006 by Curtea Veche (first published 1939)
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Average rating 3.66  · 
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 ·  2,688 ratings  ·  320 reviews


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Jim Fonseca
Jul 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A woman writing this passage on the first page sets the theme for us:

“But before I die I want to write down what happened the day Lajos visited me for the last time and robbed me.”

In days of old we’d call Lajos a “rake” or a “scoundrel,” but today we’d say he’s a con artist. When they were young, she was in love with him and he may have been in love with her, but if so, why did he run off and marry her sister? Now a letter from him to her appears, declaring his love for her which he claims her
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Stephen P
Jul 14, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Stephen by: Proustitute, M.Sarki
Shelves: favorites
I complain about there being no POMO. I Sshhh myself. But there are no abrupt shifts. Where are those sharp slaying edges? Sshhh, I repeat. I know it's no use. I know him. He'll keep turning the pages. He's full of hope and patience. I slur a remark. How could he have heard? I hate it when he presses a finger against his lips, snatching away my popcorn and making threats neither of us believe he will or can carry out. I read with him one eye open. By the time I open the other it is too late.

On t
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Brian
Jan 06, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Brian by: Proustitute

This beautiful and overlooked novella from an unknown (BURIED, much?) Hungarian author hits all the right notes in telling a story of Esther, our narrator, and her past coming through to her present on a Sunday afternoon. Her old flame is back in town after a 20 year absence - his unexpected arrival forces an aged Esther and her remaining family to deal with their future in light of the past. How much truth is in those memories? As new information about the past is revealed, Esther and her exten
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Luís
After 20 years, Lajos announces his visit to Eszter by telegram. Eszter lives together with Nunu, a former housekeeper of the family, in a secluded house with a garden from which they feed. Eszter has remained nothing except home and land. In the course of his life, Lajos brought Eszter and her family all possessions, lied and deceived, so at her just enough to live.
Lajos was a friend of her brother's brother, and with his vivacity, he conjured up the whole family. Eszter loved Lajos, and Lajos
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M. Sarki
Apr 29, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another brilliant Márai example for the economy of words. Meant, I think, for persons of age, older people who have already had a life and either made something of it or left it unrequited. I am not convinced a younger person would derive any great pleasure from reading this book or be enlightened enough by it to actually change their direction. It seems to me that a long accomplishment would enhance the reading and offer a like-minded view of long living. Of course, it is possible, that a young ...more
Briynne
Nov 19, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am developing a minor obsession with Sandor Marai novels. This one is on par with the brilliance of Embers, which delighted me since I was a bit disappointed with The Rebels. There is such a gorgeous compressed emotional language in his writing that gives it an air of poetry rather than prose. Properly speaking, I would class this as a novella ; it’s short in length and time frame and deals with a single main theme - the lies others tell us and the lies we tell ourselves. But from that one the ...more
James Henderson
"Suddenly I felt a great calm descend on me: I knew Lajos had come because he had no choice, and that we were welcoming him because we had no choice, and the whole thing was as terrifying, as unpleasant, and as unavoidable for him as it was for us."(p 53)


When a story is told in the first person you must ask yourself to what extent she is a reliable narrator. In Esther's case I found her invoking God (fate) in the first line of the book in which she would narrate events about a day from three yea
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Jim
Oct 16, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It seems that Marai's novels (based on the two I have read) are based on moral crises of a high order, and always lit by candlelight. The English translation of Embers caused a stir when it was published in 2001. Now Esther's Inheritance, which was written in 1939, was likewise turned into English in 2008 by the same excellent translator, George Szirtes.

Picture to yourself two aging women living by themselves when lightning strikes. The former love of one of them, an irresponsible Harold Skimpol
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Ann Olszewski
This is the first Marai novel I've read, and it was a bit underwhelming. Very well-written (and well-translated), the story itself could have been more interesting than it was. I could never understand why everyone thought Lajos was so enchanting, despite the fact that he's a pathological liar who cheats everyone. The ending of this novella was extremely disappointing, and I could not understand the protagonist's self-destructive final decision.

The philosophical adventures of sociopaths and maso
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Jazzy Lemon
Rarely when reading a book have I felt such feelings of anger and injustice as overcame me whilst reading this.
Kathy
Feb 21, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The book starts out saying that her sister's husband robbed her. This sounds intriguing, until you figure out that the idiot narator GAVE him everything. I don't know if the male author thinks that all women are stupid and give into "fate". I don't think I have ever read a more pathetic portrait of a woman. I regret thinking it would somehow turn around. ...more
Bettie
Dec 23, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Bettie by: Gifted by Sympatico
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Chana
First thoughts: I didn't understand it. It had a dreamlike quality, a lack of logic and substance. I tried, but I got nothing out of it.
2nd thoughts: I need to clarify that what I didn't understand is how a person (Esther) could have so little sense of self- preservation, how she could willingly sacrifice herself and take the blame as well. I was puzzled at first thinking I missed something crucial, but I didn't, I just needed time to process this woman's utter and complete destruction, which s
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Milli
Jan 27, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This is probably considered "good literature", but women who continue to make not smart choices and wrap their lives up around a lousy man - especially when they know he is lousy - annoy me. I can forgive character flaws many times, but not endlessly. ...more
Zazie
Aug 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This books is full of mistery and intense....until the end you cannot imagine the conclusion of the story, This writer, from Kosice (Slovakia) is able to create an atmosphere suspended between reality and imagination.
Theresa
Another beautifully written story by Marai, but difficult subject matter. I had a difficult time understanding why the lying scoundrel Lajos was always able to charm everyone into his web of selfishness, especially since they were not fooled by him. People like that make me want to run away fast. Fortunately, it was short.
Orsolya
A visit from a past love (whether unrequited or one which has run its course); is not what most would consider an ideal situation. This is precisely the arena which Sandor Marai, one of Hungary’s most prolific authors, explores in “Esther’s Inheritance”.

Esther is an elderly spinster living with her fellow spinster cousin when Lajos decides to visit after a 20 year hiatus. Who is Lajos? The husband of Esther’s deceased sister – a man whom Esther fancied first before he married her sister. The pl
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Kate
May 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a book recommended to me as Hungarian literature translated to English. The description lured me in and I wasn't disappointed. It's the story of a woman, Esther, who was left 20 years previously by the man that she was in love with, a man who lied and used people, but who could also charm the pants off almost everyone, especially her. The action takes place in a single day as she receives a letter saying that Lajos, her former love, is returning for a day, that day, to see her. She and ...more
Stephen Durrant
There is a haunting inevitability to this story. Esther once loved a charming man named Lagos, who happens also to be a compulsive, self-serving liar. She knows this. But when Lagos returns to claim the last property she possesses, twenty years after he had left, she falls prey to her memories of the past and her own sense of inevitability: Lagos always prevails, he always knows the right thing to say, the right lie to tell. The Hungarian writer Sandor Marai (1900-1989) explores Esther's sad dil ...more
Teresa
Jun 06, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sándor Márai writes wonderfully, and I enjoyed so much the first half of this book. When all the secrets are revealed and the plot unravels, the topic and Esther's final decision were less interesting to me. However, I still want to continue reading his work!

On another note, this was the last book my beloved grandma read before she passed. I have no idea if she liked it, but I remember she raved about Embers, which I also thought was very good. I like to think she thought Esther was an idiot :)
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Liz
Nov 03, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This started off a bit slowly, but twisted and turned into an intriguing exploration of the human psyche, as it played out primarily between the narrator and her estranged beloved upon his return to her home. It reads like a dated version of what would be a soap opera in modern day, but the way the characters speak and the observations they make are by turns amusing, saddening, surprising, and profound.
G
Jul 02, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: middle-ground
A carefully woven, melancholy version of the old story - the prodigal son returns, of sorts - capturing the complexity of human relationships but perhaps lacking the heft of a typical novel. It's really more a short story. ...more
Simay Yildiz
-------Review coming soon------
Tyler Jones
Jan 29, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Briefly covers much of the same ground as Embers, but is less powerful. Perhaps a good toe-in-the-water book for those thinking trying Marai for the first time.
Pascale
This is the kind of book with no suspense (we learn in the first paragraph that Lajos robbed Esther) and tons of tension (how did he manage to do it since she didn't trust him an inch, and for good reason?) With many flashbacks to the distant past, when her brother Laci first introduced the toxic Lajos into the family, Esther recounts the events of the day when she surrendered her last asset, namely her house and almond orchard, to Lajos. Some 20 years earlier, Lajos had courted her, then ditche ...more
Tadzio Koelb
From a my review for the Guardian:

Esther receives a telegram: Lajos, the lover who broke her heart, married her sister, and bankrupted her family, returns tomorrow. Esther, who has lived a lonely, threadbare life since his departure, hopes that Lajos has decided after twenty years “to set things right” – even as she expects him to attempt another swindle.

That night she recalls their past, a series of humiliations in which Lajos slowly robs her of everything. When he arrives, it is as part of a s
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Rose
Feb 28, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This seems a very wise book of ideas written by a male author, narrated by a woman. Hits close to the bone for any older sister scared to wind up in some warped love triangle with her younger sister being after the same man. Lajos is probably what is called a sociopath now, a opener of black holes and breaker of psyches. Esther's speech to him, that what he can never take from her is some kind of basic human dignity is kind of mind blowing. I really wonder about Márai, what kind of personality d ...more
Helen
This is good but not really very enjoyable. Esther is a middle-aged woman (although she comes across as an old lady) living in her family's house with her older cousin, all that is left of the family inheritance after her sister (now dead) appears to have gone off with most of its contents as well as marrying the love of Esther's life, a conman who is now back to claim whatever is left. Although she seems to be well aware of all the dangers she simply capitulates, inexplicably (to me, at least). ...more
Juan Pinilla
Sandor Marai is no doubt an excellent narrator, with the advantage of showing us a world a bit faraway from current literary topics, or, if at the bottom they are the eternal topics of the human beings, presented from a different perspective in a refreshing way. On the other hand, if you are looking for easy readings, this is not perhaps your kind of book. Excellent introspection and character design. A literary pleasure.
Orsi Nagy
Jun 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was as near to perfect as it could be. I was hoping for a different ending, but honestly, this story really had one possible ending.
It's a short story and easy to read, so maybe suitable for those who want to read *something* from Márai just to get the taste, but are not desperate/engaged enough to start with a longer novel. I highly recommend it.
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Sándor Márai (originally Sándor Károly Henrik Grosschmied de Mára) was a Hungarian writer and journalist.
He was born in the city of Kassa in Austria-Hungary (now Košice in Slovakia) to an old family of Saxon origin who had mixed with magyars through the centuries. Through his father he was a relative of the Ország-family. In his early years, Márai travelled to and lived in Frankfurt, Berlin, and P
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