The Book of Fathers: Miklós Vámos(Hungarian)

Hungarian literature does not feature as a high priority amongst translators. But when Milklós Vámos published The Book of Fathers (2000) in Hungary, he sold over 200,000 copies, and it caught the attention of the world. It now appears in 14 different languages. But does its commercial success reflect its quality as a piece of fiction? Opinions differ.

The structure of the novel is most unusual. Historically, it begins in the year 1705, and in neatly constructed 35 page chapters (each with a reference to a sign of the zodiac) proceeds to tell the patrilineal story of 12 generations of the same family, through the eyes of the first-born son of each generation. Each generation is set against its own relevant historical backdrop, and we learn from the concluding ‘Author’s notes’ that the whole novel is an attempt by Vámos to create a fictional autobiographical history to fill the gap left by his own ignorance of where he came from and who his own ancestors were.

The great strength of the novel (in my humble opinion) lies in its historical settings covering, as it does, over 300 years of Hungarian history. We learn much about the dominance of the Hapsburgs and the days of the Austro-Hungarian empire, the 1848 revolution, the attempts to regenerate the Hungarian language, the plight of the Jews in the 20th century, followed by the grim days of communist rule. In terms of the multi-generational family history of the Csillags, feminists will have a field-day ripping this novel apart. Its myopic argument that all that is worth inheriting in a family is passed down through the male blood-line, that every first-born child has to be male and will have extraordinary powers of perception and imagination, and that women in general serve only as the child-bearers of society…………. none of this will win the hearts and minds of female readers.

What we have here is the grim reality of Hungarian history (“One well-known fact is that Hungary…has lost every important war and revolution since……1490”) over-layered by a story infused with surreal, male-supremacist characters whose world is governed by the supreme need to sire the next male heir.

Advertisements

About Frank Burns

Looking for the extraordinary in the commonplace………taking the road less travelled……..striving for the ‘faculty of making happy chance discoveries’ in unremarkable circumstances. Click on the Personal Link below to visit my webpages.

Posted on February 13, 2012, in Book reviews and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Looking For 42

Traveling the world looking for the meaning for life (and whatever else I might find along the way)

Off The Beaten Path

Inside news from Bicycle Quarterly and Compass Bicycles

Bike 5

A better way to get where you're going.

Kite*Surf*Bike*Rambling

KITESURFING, CYCLING, SUP: ramblings, idiocy and not much more

Cycling Dutch Girl

the only certainty is change

4000milestothesea

On a bicycle from coast to coast across the USA

CyclingEurope.org

Europe... on a bicycle

Self Propelled

Self propelled adventures through life; blogging on cycling, touring, micro-adventures, general shenanigans, and environmental news

chrisp666

Cycling across Europe, Cornwall to Munich

fossilcycle

FOSSIL - A Fine Old Senior Soul In Lycra

The Vicious Cycle

A man searches for meaning...in between leg shavings

2 l o v e c y c l i n g

It's about cycling ... and other travels

There And Back Again

Life at 15 miles per hour

As Easy As Riding A Bike

Well it should be, shouldn't it?

Bike Around Britain

Blog on cycling around the coast of Britain

David Noble's Blog

Life, Loves and Living

weston.front

The Weston Front - the destination of a road less travelled...

The Innocent Bikestander

It can be better

Bike, Banjo & Baby

They go together so well

Something for Kiki and the Pok

the adventures of Christopher Yardin - by plane, bike, through a lens, or the eyes of a child

Bricycling...

Cycling Blog

Richard Tulloch's LIFE ON THE ROAD

Travel adventures on wheels and legs

THE SPORTSWOOL DIARIES

................."Cherry picking the nicest places in the world to cycle"

Gippsland Granny

Musings from Metung

Serendipities of life

Taking the road less travelled

I Do Not Despair

When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race. ~H.G. Wells

Tom’s Bike Trip

Adventures and experiments in two-wheeled travel

All Seasons Cyclist

Real World Product Reviews For Avid Cyclists

machacas on wheels

Taking the road less travelled

%d bloggers like this: