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Seiobo There Below

4.31  ·  Rating details ·  880 ratings  ·  153 reviews
Finalist for the 2015 Man Booker International Prize.

Beauty, in László Krasznahorkai's new novel, reflects, however fleeting, the sacred - even if we are mostly unable to bear it.

In Seiobo There Below we see the Japanese goddess Seiobo returning to mortal realms in search of perfection. An ancient Buddha being restored; the Italian renaissance painter Perugino managing his
Hardcover, 464 pages
Published May 7th 2015 by Tuskar Rock (first published January 2008)
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Showing 1-30
4.31  · 
Rating details
 ·  880 ratings  ·  153 reviews

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Elyse Walters
Jul 24, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: dnf
I didn't finish - so my rating is only based on my personal frustration. I wanted to try this - but it lost me.
What drove me crazy - is that sentences went on for pages!! There were comas - lots of them- but it was rare to find a sentence end.
There were some interesting & lovely descriptions... but I couldn't understand half of what I read and I couldn't 'feel' anything without understanding. Just lost! My failure.
1. First Thread

Margarita Terekhova in Tarkovsky's Mirror

Munch's portrait of his sister

Ingrid Thulin in the films of Bergman

2. Second Thread

Derek Jarman


Théodore Géricault's last Self Portrait before his death

3. Third Thread

Brassai's Night Photos of Paris

Hasegawa Tohaku's Pine Trees

4. Fourth Thread

Sally Mann's photos of her kids

Schiele - Mother and Child

5. Fifth Thread

Rublev's Trinity

Three Ebensee survivors, too weak to eat solid food, suck on suga
A heron stands perched above a stream, waiting in perfect tension to catch its prey. Monks pray to a statue of the Buddha, knowing every detail of its tarnished face but yearning to recognize and be enveloped by the Buddha's infinite compassion. A cynical tourist wanders in a museum in Venice, but sees a half-remembered painting of the dead Christ and is overwhelmed by pathos and emotion. A Japanese goddess descends to earth, bearing a fruit of immortality, searching for perfection.

Seiobo There
Apr 02, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016

I voted last year for “Seiobo” as the most unique book I have read in 2015. I could have gone also with the most challenging or the most annoying. The review turns out to be the most difficult to write in this beginning of 2016. I can’t seem to run out of superlatives when considering the novel, but they cover both the high end and the low end of the spectrum: amazing and annoying, marvelous and mean spirited, erudite and exhausting, soul searching and smug.

Most of my problems issue from the sty
Jul 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviews
This is my first time reading Krasznahorkai. Surely he is a deeply intellectual, knowledgable, 'been around - seen around' wise person. The translator's role is monumental in bringing us this book in English. Krasznahorkai writes in long sentences, mostly using the fullstop only at the end of the chapters. He writes in a meditative way. Its sort of like listening to progressive jazz, where one theme hangs in the air but constantly new ones are being born of it.

In Seiobo there Below, there are 17
Dec 23, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Immanence" is what you get when the spiritual world permeates the mundane. The word appears on the inside flap and nicely sums up this one's primary theme (secondary theme = inevitability of death and being forgotten forever under the force of time). Most of this seemed benevolently mundane to me, read at a slow fluid pace that so often accelerated as it reached the highest peaks. The first 50+ pages I read nearly blind, as though through a scrim of not quite comprehending between words and min ...more
Aug 09, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Antonomasia by: Best Translated Book Award 2014
A tad overhyped, this (in some quarters). It's an interesting and unusual book, of interlocking short stories about art, beauty and the sacred. I'm not saying emperor's new clothes - but some of the superlatives...

- Unique, like nothing else. [Collective gist.]
A non-exhaustive list of things I was reminded of whilst reading Seiobo There Below: documentaries about art & building restoration; documentaries about and visits to buddhist monasteries; meditation and writing and talks on; How to
Chuck LoPresti
Oct 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
His most difficult and complex work yet. These stories operate like mandalas in that they use rhythm, tone and position to deliver meaning. Each segment progresses in Fibonaci's sequence, and draws readers towards an understanding of art and artists primarily. How things are made, or compiled rather and then taken back apart and ingested is a constant theme throughout. Krasznahorkai makes literary music that has nothing to do with improvisation but rather a masterful interpretation of traditiona ...more
Jun 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: eastern-europe
You reach through bars. Your arm is stretched to the furthest possible extent; tense and aching from the effort. You wriggle your fingers attempting to come into contact with an object that has enormous significance for you. You are convinced that just to touch it once would resolve so much that has become disfigured in your life. With one final strain you manage it. A finger has lightly pressed against this sacred talisman. What do you feel? Relieved? Renewed? Transformed? How fleeting will thi ...more
Nov 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: translation, fiction
...but if it does occur, then anyone can comprehend that above us and below us, outside of ourselves and deep within ourselves, there is a universe, the one and only, which is not identical with the sky looming above us overhead, because that universe is not made of stars and planets and suns and galaxies, because that universe is not a picture, it cannot be seen, it doesn't even have a name, for it is so much more precious than anything that could have a name, and that is why it is such a joy
Justin Evans
Jul 05, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I dissent.

Look, I think Krasznahorkai is one of the most interesting writers working today (that I know of). I wish more of his books had been translated; I think 'Melancholy' is one of the greatest novels of the last century, and I wish all the people writing in English today would read his books and try to get closer to his baroque style than they are to the dishwater-dull post-minimalism that everyone seems determined to practice. Now, all that said, this is the worst of his books to have be
Robert Wechsler
Feb 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: othereuro-lit
This collection of thematically related stories has some of the most incredible writing about the making and appreciation of art that I’ve ever read (a far shorter, but also wonderfully imaginative collection on the same topic is Saul Yurkievich's In the Image and Likeness, which I published back in 2003). It also has sections where the author’s extremely detailed approach didn’t work for me, where I found myself skimming over dully-presented TMI. But the great writing is more than worth it. Don ...more
Art is your only chance at touching the transcendent. Pray that it doesn't blind or kill you, or blind you and then kill you.

And that concludes our one-time exercise in two-sentence book summaries.
Sep 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Even the grey clouds are black in Krasznahorkai's world and don't let the silver linings fool you. That is black." Me

I approached the reading of László Krashnahorkai's 'Seiobo There Below' with some excitement because, I must admit, I am smitten with his writing. It was a hot, sunny day so I wandered down to a bench by the riverside and read about a view of a river (the Kamo River in Japan), much like the one I saw spread out in front of me (the Rideau River),

"... and all the individual glitte
Paul Fulcher
Oct 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013, btba-winners
A truly stunning work.

Through a series of beautiful stories Krasznahorkai explores the immanence of the divine in human artistic creation.

As just one small detail - the chapters are not numbered sequentially but rather in the Fibonacci sequence, with each chapter number the sum of the proceeding chapters. This mirrors the way that the book's themes build up between the seemingly unconnected stories. And, of course, the ratio between successive chapter numbers then converges on the Golden Ratio
I'd feel very naughty reviewing this book. I'm just a simple, filthy reader.
Sep 18, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: in-translation
Did I miss the part where the goddess Seiobo comes down to visit? Rereading the description on the dust jacket, I'd swear I just read a different book.

Okay, goddesses aside, what is going on in this book? It's a Difficult Art Book about art and about death and about the difficulties of making meaning throughout time, in every place, and through anything/everything. I'd say it's a bitter book, populated by obsessive middle-aged men who you never really get to know. I picked it up after reading t
I hadn't realized who/what Seiobo was before I picked this up, and I knew Krasznahorkai as a chronicler of Hungarian misery, not of the intricacies of ancient Japanese craft. This is about as rich in detail, and obscure detail at that, as anything I've ever read, on subjects ranging from the flight of a heron to the crafting of Noh masks. Really, the thing I would most compare it to is the mathematical precision of Robbe-Grillet's novels (exactly how many centimeters wide that window is). It's d ...more
Boy Blue
Nov 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, lit-fic
In the process of searching for beauty and perfection, this book becomes the very thing it was looking for. It won translated book of the year for a reason, Krasznahorkai's vision and Mulzet's incredible translation make this one of the most beautiful reads you'll ever come across. Seiobo There Below is as close as you can get to meditating while reading, Krasznahorkai has the ability to pull you into his reveries and make them feel like your own. It's hard to think of a book that is like this b ...more
My review of this stupefyingly good book appears at The Coffin Factory:
Apr 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Though I love the movies of Béla Tarr, I have never gotten around to read Krasznahorkai before this one, but it will definitely not be my last book of his. Utterly gorgeous, this collection of prose pieces (it doesn't really seem to work as either novel or short story collection) centered on art and the sublime (broadly speaking), functions in its own way with mirrored themes - restoration, the artist as craftsman, the limits of understanding - adding up to something unique, touching and very be ...more
Feb 03, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"He was little or nothing but life." So said Virginia Woolf about a moth. I get the sense from Seiobo There Below that Laszlo Krasznahorkai witnesses the same in his human subjects, if not our species altogether.
As a cynic and a contrarian I can say that I understand the attitude. But I also hope that I hold to a gradually maturing commitment to the complex and mysterious ethical component of my sentience. This means pushing ever so slightly past mere acknowledgement of the universality of conte
Jan 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
17 stories, numbered by the fibonacci sequence, revolve around chaos, beauty, and death.

Krasznahorkai begins with a heron, hidden in the granite grey modern world, and takes us with the expertise and knowledge of a master on a journey through past-present-future to a beauty formed inside and out of the finite which could be considered divine.

Seiobo There Below holds so many different subjects you can tell it was written with the passion of a specialist. Krasznahorkai's capacity to weave themes t
Marc Nash
A meditation on sacred art, from the Venus de Milo, Acropolis, Alhambra, the making of a Noh mask, restoration of an ancient wooden Buddha etc etc. But the sublime remains out of reach for the reader because of the style. Paragraphs that run for pages, sentences that run on for lines, there is simply no space for a reader to break off and contemplate the sublime. So the book fails. The other surprising thing, or maybe not so surprising since most of the art here is pre-21st century reflecting it ...more
Cory Levinson
Jun 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Phenomenal, in every sense of the word.

This is my first read of Laszlo Krasznahorkai's, and it certainly won't be my last. I slowly paced through this book over 9 months, but it was a beautiful 9 months. If you find yourself drawn to his painfully detailed, never-ending sentences, then it won't matter how long it takes you to get through it.

There's such beauty is in the moments he creates– I found myself never wanting them to end. Funnily, it actually seemed like the moments didn't end. Rather,
Krasznahorkai is one of the world's greatest living writers--yet I find him somewhat off-putting: he is extremely satisfying at an intellectual and aesthetic level, but not emotionally (probably because his characters are hard to identify with).
George-Icaros Babassakis
Πρόκειται για (ένα ακόμα) πανίσχυρο μυθιστόρημα του Λάσλο Κρασναχορκάι.
Aug 24, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book is an amazing work of literature, beautiful language and amazing stories still I only ranked it 2 stars because the punctuation is created to give readers a space to pause to reflect and to enjoy the silence of the wisdom of what was read compared to other writers that follow this philosophy of long frases and no punctuation this work in my humble opinion would greatly benefit from it so I simply disagree with the author anyone who managed to read and enjoy my review should read it;).
Mack Mcconnell
May 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rewarding reading in the long run, but you will have to slog through some rough patches. As a sort of treatise on the many ways in which to regard 'Art', it is both compelling and illuminating.
Nov 28, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
Ungefähr bei der Hälfte habe ich beschlossen, nie wieder Belletristik zu lesen, aber dann habe ich es mir doch wieder anders überlegt. Naja, muss jeder selber wissen.
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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. He is also the 2015 Man Booker International Prize Winner.

“Only the land remained, the silent order of the mountains, the ground covered in fallen dead leaves in the enormous space, a boundless expanse - disguising, concealing, hiding, covering all that lies below the burning earth.” 5 likes
“It would be better for you to turn around and go into the thick grasses, there where one of those strange grassy islets in the riverbed will completely cover you, it would be better if you do this for once and for all, because if you come back tomorrow, or after tomorrow, there will be no one at all to understand, no one to look, not even a single one among all your natural enemies that will be able to see who you really are; it would be better for you to go away this very evening when twilight begins to fall, it would be better for you to retreat with the others, if night begins to descend, and you should not come back if tomorrow, or after tomorrow, dawn breaks, because for you it will be much better for there to be no tomorrow and no day after tomorrow; so hide away now in the grass, sink down, fall onto your side, let your eyes slowly close, and die, for there is no point in the sublimity that you bear, die at midnight in the grass, sink down and fall, and let it be like that — breathe your last.” 2 likes
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