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La porta (1987)
de Magda Szabó
Top Five Books of 2017 (136)
Top Five Books of 2018 (171)
Female Author (465)
» 8 més
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the discussion of [The Door] last night was really good. Overall, members thought the novel was great, but there was a lot of controversy and discussion about the nature of the relationship between the narrator and Emerence, the rightness or wrongness of
Una historia en homenaje a la amistad, de una calidad humana extraordinaria. Retrato de la extraña y larga relación entre una escritora —la propia Magda Szabó— y su sirvienta —Emerence Szeredas— durante veinte años. Magda, una intelectual que vive alejada de la realidad, pertenece a la burguesía húngara. Emerence ha vivido en la miseria y conoce los quebrantos y las amarguras que ha sufrido el pueblo tanto en la época de los nazis como en la de los comunistas. Las dos mujeres viven y han vivido dos vidas que chocan y se atraen. Su relación es tensa y, sin embargo, no pueden vivir la una sin la otra.
Toward the end, around the last two or three chapters, I found it hard to continue reading, so heavy was the impending loss and guilt. The entire “plot,” such as it is, is the story of a housekeeper, Emerence, as told by one of her employers, a prize-winning author called Magda, and their evolving relationship.
Completely judged this by its cover when I picked it up; I had never heard of the novel nor of Szabó, I just thought the name and artwork combo (and NYRB publisher) sounded mysterious so I bought it to read “eventually.” I’m glad I did: this is maybe the best novel I have ever read not having known anything about the author or title.
The Door sketches the relationship between Magda, a well-off Hungarian writer/intellectual type, and Emerence, a bewildering older housekeeper with the strength and will of an entire village. The book primarily is from the POV of Magda, who goes about her artsy, cushiony sort of life while Emerence lurks and works behind her like some primordial helping force, or a guardian angel. Much of the tension between the two of them can be dumbed down to “Magda thinks; Emerence does,” but there are other subtler dynamics at play: the relationship between employer and employee; the largely unspoken, (almost) unconditional level of love (or devotion) between the two; who is really “controlling” or influencing who; class; age; politics; religion; war and suffering; etc. The relationship between these two, as it grows, explodes, plummets, apotheosizes, and finally collapses is an A story in its own right. Not much really “happens” as far as plot goes, besides the mystery about Emerence’s apartment—the story is the two of them.
The story works on its own, but I also need to emphasize the sheer force and mystery of the character Emerence. While reading this book, Emerence takes on a preternatural or even supernatural character. She is the engine, almost the entire car, of Magda’s life, in addition to her tireless work for others in the village. Her past is total mystery; her politics seem vague and contradictory (yet convincing); she detests religion but is the greatest Christian alive; she abides by strict, seemingly arbitrary unspoken rules of respect and duty, and reacts severely (but, one wonders, maybe appropriately) when they are broken; she barely sleeps, and when she does, it’s upright; she and animals communicate with ease; she knows everyone and everything and claims it is all good for nothing at all. She is pure contradiction, but it all makes the clearest, most perfect sense. By the end of the novel she is humanized some, and you see in her the beautiful possibilities latent in our silly ways of life. Emerence is almost Biblical, or at least is of the same class as characters like Blood Meridian’s Judge Holden or 2666’s Benno von Archimboldi.
Moments of this are sickening: watch as Magda and Emerence enact follies snd petty slights, how they help each other and then the next day hate each other, and see how ultimately helpless they are to their love.
"I must speak out. I killed Emerence. The fact that I was trying to save her rather than destroy her changes nothing."
With The Door, I have now read 4 books by Hungarian author Magda Szabo, which I think is the totality of her work translated into English. Like the others I read, this was magnificent.
The book, described as semi-autobiographical, is a detailed character study of the complex relationship between two very different women, the narrator who is a writer and who is sometimes referred to as Magdushka, and her elderly housekeeper Emerence (with occasional appearances by Viola, the male dog they share custody of). Over the 20 years they interact, the narrator becomes a more successful and important writer, earning awards and acclaim. Emerence, an anti-intellectual, takes care of the narrator and her husband, but also of the entire neighborhood, from sweeping the snow from doorsteps to tending to and feeding the ailing. But despite Emerence's involvement in everyone's lives, no one has ever crossed Emerence's threshold. Her door is always closed, and she meets all and sundry on her front porch, which "was like a telex center."
The best way I can describe what this book is about is this quote from an Amazon reviewer which resonated with me: "We all have a part of ourself behind a locked door."
This was a superb book (as were the others by Szabo I have read). I highly recommend it, or anything else you come across by this author.
First line: "I seldom dream."
Last line: "My efforts are in vain."
Es mostren 1-5 de 77 (següent | mostra-les totes)
"Den fortjener å bli en bestselger."
"... en sjelden velskrevet, morsom og rørende bok ... "Døren" skal du lese fordi du fortjener det."
"... et av de mest underfundige portrett jeg noensinne har lest."
"Døren" er den type roman du ikke er ferdig med etter endt lesning ... noe av hemmeligheten ved at "Døren" griper så uimotståelig, er at den gjennomføres med konsekvens, uten sentimentalitet. Resten er det uhåndgripelige som kjennetegner all stor kunst."
"Døren" er en roman der leseren rives med fra første side. Den er et fascinerende portrett av to kvinner - historiens forteller, en forfatter, og den eldre uforglemmelige hushjelpen Emerenc, som har jobbet for henne i nærmere tjue år. Den ene lever nesten bare gjennom ordene, den andre kan knapt nok lese. Likevel knyttes de nærmere sammen enn noen av dem kunne ane. For Emerenc gir alt, enten det dreier seg om å redde en jøde, en tysker, en tyv eller en hjemløs katt. Hun tviler aldri et sekund. Men det er én ting hun ikke deler. Hun slipper aldri noen innenfor døren til sitt hjem.
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Wikipedia en anglès (2)
"The Door is an unsettling exploration of the relationship between two very different women. Magda is a writer, educated, married to an academic, public-spirited, with an on-again-off-again relationship with Hungary's Communist authorities. Emerence is a peasant, illiterate, impassive, abrupt, seemingly ageless. She lives alone in a house that no one else may enter, not even her closest relatives. She is Magda's housekeeper and she has taken control over Magda's household, becoming indispensable to her. And Emerence, in her way, has come to depend on Magda. They share a kind of love--at least until Magda's long-sought success as a writer leads to a devastating revelation. Len Rix's prizewinning translation of The Door at last makes it possible for American readers to appreciate the masterwork of a major modern European writer"--
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Classificació Decimal de Dewey (DDC)894.51133 — Literature Literature of other languages Altaic, Finno-Ugric, Uralic and Dravidian languages Fenno-Ugric languages Ugric languages Hungarian Hungarian fiction 1900–2000
LCC (Clas. Bibl. Congrés EUA)
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Columbia University Press
Una edició d'aquest llibre ha estat publicada per Columbia University Press.