August 11, 2008

Review: In the shadow of a despotic father

Ondrok gödre by Imre Oravecz

(published:2007; Jelenkor)

Living in a village in the middle of the country at the end of the 19.century.

Living in the village Szajla and being a part of a wealthy peasant family, the Arvais. It’ s a small world about we can read, only some characters, mostly from this family, and the two opposite characters are father and son: Janos Arvai, and Istvan Arvai.

Janos is a strongand clever man, someone, who’s property is growing and growing, he is always tries out something new, and he works really-really hard… but he is also a despot, he wants his family member, his children be the same perfect someone as him.

Istvan is his eldest son, we can see how he grows up, how he starts working with age 4 or 5 (that was usual in the peasant life that time). He is a sensible but an intelligent someone. He has the chance to go to high school, but his father decides against it, he needs the boy at the estate, Istvan should be a peasant like his father and not a useless dandy. After his marriage he (and his own family) wants to live his own life and not the life in the shadow of his father. He can see only one solution: to work in the USA, became rich and return to home. The story ends with the scene, he, his wife and the little Imre are just leaving the village.

The story bases on the life of Oravecz’s grand-grandfather. It’s a realistic novel, but a bit different as the way of realistic storytelling in the early 20. century for example. The way how the classic writers show the peasant-life is either to idealistic or too dark, tragic. I think, Oravecz find an healthy middle-course. Obviously, the distance of more than 100 years between the life of the characters and the life of the writer helps him a lot.

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