Nobel Literature Laureate Imre Kertesz Dies At 86 | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Nobel Literature Laureate Imre Kertesz Dies At 86

FILE - This Nov. 18, 2005 file photo shows Hungarian writer Imre Kertesz during a literary conference in the Palace of Arts in Budapest, Hungary. Kertesz, who won the 2002 Nobel Prize for Literature for fiction largely drawn from his very real experience as a teenage prisoner in Nazi concentration camps, has died Thursday, March 31, 2016. He was 86. (Mate Nandorfi/MTI via AP, file)
Posted: Mar 31, 2016 at 9:28 am   /   by   /   comments (1)

Imre Kertesz, the Hungarian writer who won the 2002 Nobel Prize for Literature for fiction largely drawn from his very real experience as a teenage prisoner in Nazi concentration camps, died Thursday. He was 86.
Book publishing firm Magveto Kiado said Kertesz died at 4 a.m. at his Budapest home after a long illness.
Kertesz was only 14 when he was deported to the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland in 1944. He survived that camp and later was transferred to the Buchenwald camp from where he was liberated in 1945.
“As a child you have a certain trust in life. But when something like Auschwitz happens, everything falls apart,” he once said.
Yet Kertesz also made a startling confession that he experienced “my most radical moments of happiness” while at Auschwitz.
“You cannot imagine what it’s like to be allowed to lie in the camp’s hospital, or to have a 10-minute break from indescribable labor,” he told Newsweek magazine in a 2002 interview. “To be very close to death is also a kind of happiness. Just surviving becomes the greatest freedom of all.”
After returning to his native Budapest, Kertesz eked out a living working as a journalist and translator.
Distrusted by the communist authorities who ruled Hungary after World War II, he spent his time translating into Hungarian the works of Friedrich Nietzsche, Sigmund Freud, Ludwig Wittgenstein and Elias Canetti in a small apartment overlooking the Danube River.
Influenced by the postwar existentialist novels of Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre, Kertesz was fascinated by the fate of the individual in an often totalitarian environment, where others decided his destiny.
“I am a non-believing Jew,” Kertesz once said in an interview. “Yet as a Jew I was taken to Auschwitz. I belong to those Jews whom Auschwitz turned into Jews.”
“Fateless,” the novel that together with other works won him the 2002 Nobel, finally appeared in 1975 after a decade-long struggle to have it published.
It was largely ignored, both by the communist authorities and the public in a country where awareness of the Holocaust remained negligible, despite the murder of around 500,000 Hungarian Jews by the Nazis and their Hungarian henchmen.
According to Kertesz, the quasi-taboo status suffered by “Fateless” for so long may have been rooted in the fact that despite its Holocaust theme, the book also reflected Hungary’s totalitarian communist system.
“I wrote ‘Fateless’ about the Kadar regime,” Kertesz said in an interview with the Hungarian weekly Elet es Irodalom, referring to communist dictator Janos Kadar, who ruled Hungary until shortly before the democratic changes of 1990.
“Whoever lived in the Hungary of the 1970s had to notice immediately that the author (of “Fateless”) knew the present and despised it,” Kertesz said.


Comments (1)

  • Mar 31, 2016 at 10:27 am Emmanuel Ugah

    The world has lost a great figure.

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