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Melancholy Of Rebirth: Essays From Post-Communist Central Europe, 1989-1994

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From the first of these essays to the last, we see how the initial euphoria at the end of Communist rule is tempered by the difficulties of reform. "Konrád is that rarity in political discourse-a fresh voice" (New Yorker). Translated by Michael Henry Heim. A Helen and Kurt Wolff Book

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Overview

From the first of these essays to the last, we see how the initial euphoria at the end of Communist rule is tempered by the difficulties of reform. "Konrád is that rarity in political discourse-a fresh voice" (New Yorker). Translated by Michael Henry Heim. A Helen and Kurt Wolff Book

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
If anything can be melancholy and optimistic at the same time, it is this collection of 26 speeches, essays, diary entries and more. After a close call with the Nazis, the Hungarian Jewish author of The Case Worker later ran afoul of the Communists. Having seen the worst of both right and left, Konrd is a cheerleader for democracy and individualism. But the buoyant enthusiasm of 1989 is quickly replaced by a warier voice as the struggle for independence takes on ultranationalistic and anti-Semitic overtones. Soon he's not merely cheerleader but umpire as well, trying to encourage the best and thwart the worst in intellectuals, Hungarian Croats and Serbs, and just plain folk. That it provides an opportunity to watch this change is probably this collection's greatest value. As analysis, it falls a bit short: Perhaps because of his own intense longing (and the rhetoric needed to inspire others), Konrd tends to be nave about both Hungary and its Western models (he ignores the likes of Jean Marie Le Pen when he notes, ``Mature nations have put flaming egocentrism behind them.... ordinary people suddenly puff up with a belief in their unique mission, often just after a successful demagogue... has appeared on the scene, dazzling them with his megalomaniacal dream''). While Heim touches on additional points in his afterword, further contextualization would have been helpful for readers who don't remember much about the Democratic Charter or Sandor Petfi. (Apr.)
Library Journal
Although written in the heat of Central Europe's recent history, these 26 essays remain hopeful for an improved society. Most concern the author's native Hungary, with a few on the Yugoslavia conflict or the larger region. Konrad is a well-known novelist, long published primarily in the West and underground at home; his years of social services work have enabled him to see the personal effects of social policy and to reflect on the proper role of the individual acting within his community. He sees the current transition in Hungary as an escape from an aberrant period of its history (postwar communism) and a return to its normal condition of freedom. Although the transitions continue, he argues that change can occur without a period of reaction or backlash-but only if individuals accept responsibility for the outcome. These thoughtful essays add to the discussion on a topic of current interest. For larger collections.-Marcia L. Sprules, Council on Foreign Relations Lib., New York
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780156002523
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 5/12/1995
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 176
  • Product dimensions: 5.34 (w) x 7.95 (h) x 0.67 (d)

Table of Contents

A Self-Introduction
Thoughts on the Border 1
Letter from Budapest 7
Being Hungarian in Europe 15
A New Year's Prediction for 1990 21
Thoughts on the Reconciliation of Christians and Jews 30
Revolution or Reform 34
The Melancholy of Rebirth 40
The Gallows Enters the Museum 65
Something Is Over 69
More Than Nothing: The Role of the Intellectual in a Changing Europe 78
Identity and Hysteria 97
Dematerializing Borders 106
What Is the Charter? 111
Being a Citizen 118
The Holiday Looks Back 123
15 March: A Colorful Day 130
To the Editorial Board of the Magyar Hirlap 136
To Hungarian Serbs and Croats 139
Snapshot on the Day After All Saints' Day 142
Hedonists of the Brain 147
The Meek Shall Inherit the Earth 152
Central Europe Redivivus 156
What Makes a Hungarian? 164
Eternally Waiting 170
Hail and Farewell 181
Translator's Afterword 191
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