86 éves korában elhunyt Kertész Imre

Nobel Prize-winning author Imre Kertész dies, aged 86

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86 éves korában elhunyt Kertész Imre, Nobel-díjas magyar író. 

Kertész was 14 years old when the Nazis deported him from Hungary to the concentration camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau. He was later sent to Buchenwald, where the Allies liberated him in 1945.

Kertész, whose family was Jewish, then returned to Hungary. The trauma of his life, the Holocaust, is the main theme of his literature. His best-known novel, "Fatelessness," which he spent 13 years working on, is one of the most painful and brutal writings about the Holocaust.

In this novel a 14-year-old boy describes his deportation to Auschwitz and Buchenwald. It's a first-person narrative told from the naïve perspective of a child.

The young narrator tries his very best to do everything right while in the camp. He doesn't grasp the deadly reality of the gas chambers. Kertész writes without detailed explanations - which adds to the horrors the reader feels. "I have written this novel like someone who struggles to feel his way towards the exit in the pitch-black deepness of a cellar," remarked Kertész about his novel, pointing out, however, that it should not be seen as an autobiographical work: "What I write, is not me. It is only one of the possibilities of me. "

The objective of Kertész has always been to unmask people in a totalitarian system. In his books, he describes a new type of person: "It was a type of man who either forgets, or falsifies, his biography without being aware of it. In these dictatorships, one got immersed in situations that were so fantastic that one could not immediately grasp them, and that's why one adapted to the situation in order to survive," explained Kertész in October 2013 in an interview with the Sunday edition of the Swiss daily, "Neue Zürcher Zeitung."

"Fatelessness" was first published in Hungary in 1975. At first, the impressive testimonial of a Holocaust survivor was ignored and hushed up. Only in the 1990s, when his works were published in German, did Imre Kertész achieve world fame. In 2002, his literary career reached its climax: he received the Literature Nobel Prize which brought him the long-deserved recognition and appreciation.

He returned to Hungary in 2012 with his second wife, Magda.

Auschwitz was the theme of his life. And, fortunately, Imre Kertész has told us that story in his effort to fight against forgetting, a fate that the "fateless" in his novel feared most.

source: Deutsche Welle

An extract from Fatelessness:

“The main thing was not to neglect oneself; somehow there would always be a way, for it had never yet happened that there wasn't a way somehow, as Bandi Citrom instilled in me, and he in turn had been instructed in this wisdom by the labor camp. The first and most important thing under all circumstances was to wash oneself (before the parallel rows of troughs with the perforated iron piping, in the open air, on the side of the camp over toward the highway). Equally essential was a frugal apportioning of the rations, whether or not there were any. Whatever rigor this disciplining might cost you, a portion of the bread ration had to be left for the next morning's coffee, some of it indeed - by maintaining an undeflectable guard against the inclination of your every thought, and above all your itching fingers, to stray toward your pocket - for the lunch break: that way, and only that way, could you avoid, for instance, the tormenting thought that you had nothing to eat. That the item in your wardrobe I had hitherto regarded as a handkerchief was a foot cloth; that the only secure place to be at roll call and in a marching column was always the middle of a row; that even when soup was being dished out one would do better to aim, not for the front, but for the back of the queue, where you could predict they would be serving from the bottom of the vat, and therefore from the thicker sediment; that one side of the handle of your spoon could be hammered out into a tool that might also serve as a knife - all these things, and much else besides, all of it knowledge essential to prison life, I was taught by Bandi Citrom, learning by watching and myself striving to emulate.” (translated by Tim Wilkinson)

Vocabulary

Allies

Szövetségesek

to liberate

felszabadítani

Jewish

zsidó

Fatelessness

Sorstalanság

to do sy’s very best

minden tőle telhető erőfeszítést megtenni

to do everything right

mindent jól/megfelelően csinálni

to grasp

felfogni

gas chamber

gázkamra

pitch-black

koromsötét

cellar

pince

to falsify

meghamisítani

to get immersed

elmerülni, belemerülni

to adapt to sg

alkalmazkodni

in order to

azért, hogy

to survive

túlélni

testimonial

bizonyság

to ignore

nem venni tudomást valamiről

to hush up

agyonhallgatni, nem beszélni róla

world fame

világhír

long-deserved

régen kiérdemelt, régóta várt

recognition

elismerés

fate

sors

to neglect

elhanyagolni

to instill

belénevel, elültet benne

in turn

cserében

trough

vályú

piping

csövek

frugal

takarékos, fukar

to apportion

beosztani, felosztani

ration

adag

undeflectable

eltéríthetetlen, kikerülhetetlen, ellenállhatatlan

inclination

késztetés

itching

viszkető

to stray toward

settenkedni, lopakodni

hitherto

mostanáig

roll call

névsorolvasás, sorakozó

vat

kondér

sediment

üledék

to strive

igyekezni

to emulate

utánozni

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