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Nobel laureate Imre Kertész dies at 86

April 2nd, 2016

Commentators across the Hungarian media remember Nobel Prize winner author Imre Kertész.

Imre Kertész had a tragic worldview, Gellért Rajcsányi reminisces on Mandiner. His works warn us that catastrophe looms large in every civilization, and any nation, culture or community may at any time turn violent and oppressive, Rajcsányi remarks. The main message of Kertész for us is to withstand and resist systemic dehumanization, under any circumstances, the author underlines.

If Kertész was right, there is no hope, Tamás Miklós Gáspár writes in Kettős Mérce. The Marxist philosopher contends that Kertész’ main insight was that the horrors of the Holocaust cannot be explained rationally, as the Holocaust was the denial of the human condition as such. Kertész suspected that everything – including his own writing and life in general – is pointless, and the best we can do is to forget. We can only hope that Kertész was wrong in this, he concludes.

In Magyar Nemzet, Zsuzsanna Körmendy writes that Kertész used the Holocaust as a metaphor to show the inhumane nature and horrors of totalitarian dictatorships in general. Kertész rejected all ideologies and did not fell at home in the Kadar regime either, she continues. Kertész was a person who went against all political expectations and ideological currents.

Kertész was an iconoclast, János Csontos comments in Magyar Idők. As a writer, he may not be among the most important Hungarian novelists, but his undogmatic depiction and interpretation of the Holocaust makes him an original and unique writer, he contends. As a democrat and humanist, Kertész saw the Holocaust as one example of brutality and terror rather than a unique event, and drew a parallel between the “quotidian pleasures” one found amidst the horrors of the Holocaust and “gratification” under the Kadar regime. As a result of such undogmatic comparisons, “ideological werewolves” accused Kertész of the relativisation of the Holocaust, Csontos recalls.