Wilmer and Gömöri’s translation brings a sharpness and energy to these poems, and Wilmer’s introductory essay (along with...



This collection provides both an introduction to and an overview of one of modern Hungary’s most original poets. Born in 1943, Petri is from the literary generation that followed Zbigniew Herbert and Miroslav Holub. He entered the world during a stormy political era: by 1948 Soviet Communism was firmly entrenched and Hungary had entered a long dark period. The uprisings of 1956 brought a short-lived euphoria, only to be followed by 33 years of “goulash communism” under János Kádár. Although the Kádár regime brought superficial prosperity to Hungary, Petri loathed its hypocrisies and retaliated against it by issuing his 1982 and 1985 collections in samizdat. By the time Hungary was finally able to hold free general elections in 1990, Petri had matured into a sharply observant, acerbic, satirical writer, informed, but by no means limited, by politics. His lyric gift is evident in every poem, and his wry perspective is drawn from the depths of the human condition. In “The Nothing Going On,” after describing many random particulars (“Sunshine, leaves rustling, a light breeze”), he wonders “Isn’t what is / enough: the nothing that goes on?” And in “Christmas 1956” he recalls life from the perspective of a child: “the kitchen is filling up / with family, and it’s just as an observer / dropped in the wrong place that I am here: / small, alien, and gone cold.”

Wilmer and Gömöri’s translation brings a sharpness and energy to these poems, and Wilmer’s introductory essay (along with the forward by Elaine Feinstein) provides much helpful background information. This is the kind of writing Americans would do well to read—and learn from.

Pub Date: April 14, 2000

ISBN: 1-85224-504-2

Page Count: 96

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2000

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A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

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Doerr presents us with two intricate stories, both of which take place during World War II; late in the novel, inevitably, they intersect.

In August 1944, Marie-Laure LeBlanc is a blind 16-year-old living in the walled port city of Saint-Malo in Brittany and hoping to escape the effects of Allied bombing. D-Day took place two months earlier, and Cherbourg, Caen and Rennes have already been liberated. She’s taken refuge in this city with her great-uncle Etienne, at first a fairly frightening figure to her. Marie-Laure’s father was a locksmith and craftsman who made scale models of cities that Marie-Laure studied so she could travel around on her own. He also crafted clever and intricate boxes, within which treasures could be hidden. Parallel to the story of Marie-Laure we meet Werner and Jutta Pfennig, a brother and sister, both orphans who have been raised in the Children’s House outside Essen, in Germany. Through flashbacks we learn that Werner had been a curious and bright child who developed an obsession with radio transmitters and receivers, both in their infancies during this period. Eventually, Werner goes to a select technical school and then, at 18, into the Wehrmacht, where his technical aptitudes are recognized and he’s put on a team trying to track down illegal radio transmissions. Etienne and Marie-Laure are responsible for some of these transmissions, but Werner is intrigued since what she’s broadcasting is innocent—she shares her passion for Jules Verne by reading aloud 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. A further subplot involves Marie-Laure’s father’s having hidden a valuable diamond, one being tracked down by Reinhold von Rumpel, a relentless German sergeant-major.

Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4658-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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