Miklós Szentkuthy: Prae (Prae Part 1)

The latest addition to my website is Prae ( Prae Part 1). Miklós Szentkuthy published this novel in 1934 and it has never been translated into any other language (apart from one chapter in French) till now. This is the first part, a mere 950 pages in length. My review of the second part will appear in July. It is a very complex, very modernist novel whch is impossible to sum up in any way. It has been compared to Proust and Musil and Joyce and Kafka but in reality it is not like any of them, except that it is complex, long and difficult. There is a sort of plot but much of the novel finds Szentkuthy, often through one of his chracters, Leville-Touqué, philosphising, often for many pages. Critics have called it formless, encyclopedic, the ultimate failed modernist hyper-novel,forerunner of the postmodern novel and an attempt to find the one and only physical and metaphysical principle that would account for all of the phenomena of the world. It is all of those and much more. Had it been written in English, French or German, it would be much better known and its publication in English should definitely ensure it is added to the canon of great (and probably all too often unread) modernist novels (think Finnegans Wake). However, if you are at all interested to see the direction the modernist novel took, read this and Szentkuthy’s other works available in English.

Leave a comment