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Contra Mundum Press

Prae, Vol. 1

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Title: Prae, Vol. 1
Author: Szentkuthy, Miklos
ISBN: 9781940625089
Publisher: Contra Mundum Press
Published: 2014
Binding: Quality
Language: English
Condition: New
New from the publisher

Fiction 1281986

Publisher Description:
Considered an eerie attack on realism, when first published in 1934, Miklós Szentkuthy's debut novel Prae so astonished Hungarian critics that many deemed it monstrous, derogatorily referred to Szentkuthy as cosmopolitan, and classified him alien to Hungarian culture. Incomparable and unprecedented in Hungarian literature, Prae compels recognition as a serious contribution to modernist fiction, as ambitious in its aspirations as Ulysses or À la recherche du temps perdu. With no traditional narration and no psychologically motivated characters, in playing with voices, temporality, and events, while fiction, Prae is more what Northrop Frye calls an anatomy (à la Lucian, Rabelais, & Burton) or Menippean satire: the basic concern of the book is intellectual, its pervading mood is that of a comedy of ideas. As a virtual novel that preempts every possibility for its realization, it is a novel but only virtually so, a book which is actually a prae-paration for an unwritten (unwritable) novel. In this, it maintains the freedom and openness of its potentialities, indicative for instance in the Non-Prae diagonals, a series of passages that intercut the novel and continually fracture space and time to engage in what one of the figures of the book calls the culture of wordplay or dogmatic accidentalism. "The book's title," said Szentkuthy, "alludes to it being an overture. A multitude of thoughts, emotions, ideas, fantasies, and motifs that mill and churn as chimes, an overture to my subsequent oeuvre." By challenging the then prevailing dogmas and conventions of prose writing, Szentkuthy was said to have created a new canon for himself but later derided as insignificant for supposedly not acquiring followers. Largely unread at the time, Prae eventually gained cult status and would be reprinted in 1980 and 2004. To some critics, the book is not only one of the representative experimental works of the early 20th century, but in its attempt to bring 'impossible literature' into b