August 21, 2008

Knowing less, knowing more

Fatelessness by Imre Kertesz
Since I finished the book Fatelessness by Imre Kertesz, I can’t get out of my head the question: Is Gyuri Koves an unreliable narrator, or we are unreliable readers?

The story is about a Jewish boy, who grows up in the world of concentrations camps. The stress is on growing up, because Gyuri is a young boy when the book starts, he is only 14-15 years old, and knows almost nothing about standards, customs, the relationships between people, the way living together, etc. It’s like a Bildungsroman, a young and naive someone learns the most important things about the society to became a real member of it. But it must be a grotesque Bildungsroman: Gyuri learns the standards of a lager. It’s incredible, how many times he says: I have understood… , it’s natural…, it’s logic

It’s incredible for us readers, because we don’t know what to do with this attitude. We know a lot of thing about Auschwitz or Buchenwald, what Gyuri doesn’t know. But he knows a lot of thing about it what we don’t know.

And that is the main point of my train of thought. Is it about knowing less and knowing more? Or just about the different point of views.

Who is unreliable? The narrator who doesn’t know what is a lager for and wants to understand and wants to learn it’s customs, and doesn’t understand why the others think at the end of the story, that it is something horrible? Or we readers, who know only this point of view: it is something incredible bad, and don’t understand, why Gyuri can’t see it from the first moment he arrives in Auschwitz.

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