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Imre Kertész’s iconoclastic interview

September 17th, 2013

A liberal columnist takes up the defence of Hungary’s only Nobel prize winning writer, who among other stark statements has said in an interview that he does not consider himself any more Jewish than Hungarian, and hates having been used by the “Holocaust industry” as an “Auschwitz-clown”.

Why aren’t we able to accept Kertész’s loneliness?” Sándor Révész asks in Népszabadság, addressing those on all sides who have expressed anger at what they see as the contempt the writer has shown towards practically everything that constitutes human society. In his interview with the German weekly Die Zeit, Révész explains, Kertész merely reiterated what he has always thought, namely that people can be led to behave in the most atrocious ways. To prove his point, the liberal pundit quotes several earlier remarks by the 84 year old writer, for example his famous desire to “belong to those who don’t belong to anyone”. Révész does not, however, share Kertész’s “cosmic pessimism” and “radical individualism”, and invites readers to be as uninhibited in criticising him as he is in his criticism of the world.

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