February 24, 2010

Living in Arcadia

Dusan Simko: Esterhazyho Lokaj [Esterhazy's lackey]

Dusan Simko is a Slovakian writer living in Switzerland. His story "Esterhazyho lokaj" [Esterhazy's lackey] is a historical novel about the time when Joseph Haydn served at the noble Esterhazy family in the 18. century.

But the protagonist isn't the famous composer, but the young Jewish man Izak, who became the lackey of Prince Nicolaus Esterhazy. This is an incredible career for a Jewish someone, because Jews were excluded from many professions that time.

Izák becomes a Christian and leaves behind all the strict Jewish tradition. He has no other choice, the life in Eszterhaza is a very well organized world, there is no place for such a different lifestyle. But on the other hand the estates of the Esterhazys is like a little Arcadia in Central-Europe, where the most important thing is the music of Joseph Haydn. Until one day burns down the building of the opera, and there is a unknown dead body among the ruins. This incidence and the behavior of the people after it shows that anti-Semitism isn't a phenomenon of the 20.(and unfortunately also the 21.) century, it has deeper roots.

Eszterhaza (Fertöd) - "The Hungarian Versailles"
(where also the French episodes/scenes of the mini series John Adams were filmed )

But no fear, there is a happy end.

Simko's novel is a historical novel of classical way, it just tells us a story about an other era, showing the differences and also similarities between past and present. It was interesting, but I have to say, I prefer the postmodern historical novels with their extreme ways of narration bit more.

The book is translated into German. (Possibly into English and French too. )
Dusan Simko also has made a documentary The Sixth Battalion about the fate of the Slovakian Jews during the World War II. (see more on the wikipedia)

This is the my first post for the New Author Challenge. (I hope, I'm not to late to join.) Anyway, my goal for this year is 25 new authors.
This post was written also for the Year of The Historical challenge

1 megjegyzés:

Marie said...

sounds really interesting. thanks for writing about it :-)

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