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A gyertyák csonkig égnek Blah blah blah put on a puffed up high horse pedestal I really hate this book Pseudo and this was happening cause that's how it happens styling itself as meaning of shit you could read on a uote of the day site I HATE books that think telling you this is the same as actually having any meaning You don't get to just say it and tell me you said it you awful book Please stop coming into my life if you are one of these books Or it is a greeting card The greeting card is to give to the spineless seventy something year old man in your life to avoid coming over and listening to him beat about the bush until you feel as old as his ninety one year old nursemaid I don't want to wipe the spit off his weak chin because he's too much of a pussy to have a thought He can wipe his own ass I hope it goes without sayingIt's Of Human Bondage if it sucked pretty much OHB was essentially a series of conversations to tell the protagonist about life issues that mattered to the author But they were good conversations This was shoehorning into meaningless pontifications for I have no idea He probably loved to hear himself talk I didn't need to be miserable to know that people talk up stuff to the point it resembles a bad soap opera with themselves as the lead with looks and charm enough to rescue them from the fast paced world of fashion modeling for K Mart fashions I don't need to be bored into a black hole to know that there are people who are as boring as a black hole Ok here's an example From the first moment they lived together like twins in their mother's womb For this they had no need of one of those pacts of the kind that is common among boys their age who swear friendship with comical solemn rituals and the sort of portentous intensity invoked by people when for the first time they experience in unconscious and distorted forms the need to remove another human being from the world body and soul and make him uniuely theirs For that is the hidden force within both friendship and love Their friendship was deep and wordless as are all the emotions that will last a lifetime And like all great emotions this one contained within itself both shame and a sense of guilt for no one may isolate one of his fellows from the rest of humanity with impunityIt all reads like that Nothing happens Just that kind of happening which is shit Don't think for yourself here I read on that this was a translation from German from Hungarian Maybe the original was good I'm not going to lose sleep over it If I were a better reviewer I could be graphic in my hate levels I would need my own chin and ass wiped Alas My fingers were interlocked around my Baba’s arm and my head was resting on his shoulders I was stealing a glimpse of his face every now and then convinced that the lines of exhaustion were going to creep upto his tongue any moment tendering me an apology to relieve him of our evening chatter for the day However my apprehensions were misplaced The exhaustion stood defeated in the face of the radiance that slowly ever so gradually filled his visage displacing the fatigue like a magic potion as he reached for the cassette player and put one of his most favorite songs in loop He also fondly went on to explain me its meaning 'Smruti Tume' originally composed in Oriya language is an ode to ‘memories’; in Oriya the two words literally translate to ‘Memory You’ The translated lyrics go like thisMemory You are the indiscernible breeze of a spring evening;Memory You are the seething ember beneath the ash;Memory You are the dancer’s teasing frill at a temple’s entrance;Memory You are the glimpse of tender moon from the mane of Casuarina trees;Memory You are the passionate note left behind in a traveller’s lodge;Memory You are the departed lover’s village Memory You are the red stain on the stone guarding shoreline;Memory You are the dusk’s glow that lights up a dull widow’s countenance;Memory You are the paper boat on the river that won’t reappear;Memory are you not my treasured BelovedAs I read Embers this song hung heavily on my psyche due to its similar metaphorical luminosity With age memory enlarges every detail and presents it in the sharpest outline When the rhapsody of those evening lyrics dissolved into the heartbeat of these present words I heard a tremor that wasn’t a simulacrum of a faint earthuake but the obstreperous throbbing of a vein a matter of delicate urgency where an inflammation not arrested in time leaves a spot defunct; worse violated Such violated lumps of memory hover around a life like the spirit unseen unlit freuently uncouth but always undoneIn Embers two boys forge the best kind of friendship two young men test the toughest kind of friendship and two old men relive the only kind of friendship Their friendship was deep and wordless as are all the emotions that will last a lifetime And like all great emotions this one contained within itself both shame and a sense of guilt for no one may isolate one of his fellows from the rest of humanity with impunity Over a period of seventy five years the birth maturity and death of every emotion is held between the tender palms of decision and indecision truth and cowardice fate and loss and is flannelled against life filters A single deed thus crushed and sieved comes to haunt one for forty one years enmeshing him in the web his exploring fingers had unsuspectingly sewn around his own house Did the deed trickle down in the same abnegating granular texture beneath the pillow of the other too robbing his sleep for those very forty one years Márai invites us to find out over a course of a cold dark night; lit exuisitely by one’s uestions suspended excruciatingly by another’s abstinence and held inadvertently by a few embers standing witness to a debilitating relationship slowly meeting her fateIn an all encompassing surreal lyrical almost devastating monologue Márai trounces everything supercilious including answers for a man at his twilight doesn’t reuire answers; he seeks peace Words become mere instruments of wrapping time into bearable currents getting their echoes despatched to silent death in the confines of a mind engaged in altering memories if not erasing them When a sigh can expel the biggest burden off the chest and impart purpose to one’s living hypothesis await no longer the stamp of verification Endurance of a life time denudes all justifications and arguments leaving a residue that intends to simply burn and become smoke Smoke they did become the memories But the vestiges persisted like the embers; silent hidden simmering and expectant of revelation on yet another cold night subjugating the breeze of words and emerging triumphant Note My apologies for any mistakes I might have committed in translating the Oriya song My memories of it are a decade old and I might have faltered at few places in comprehension or recollection The Sunday Times Top Ten Bestseller available as a Penguin Essential for the first timeA castle at the foot of the Carpathian mountains in the 1930s Two men inseparable in their youth meet for the first time in forty one years They have spent their lives waiting for this momentFour decades earlier a murky traumatic event something to do with a betrayal and a woman led to their sudden separation Now as their lives draw to a close the devastating truth about that moment will be revealed Embers is a masterpiece an unforgettable story of passion fidelity truth and deception Embers presents some of the loveliest most elegant writing I have encountered this year At its core however it is an overlong ramble of a solilouy that should have been reduced to a stunning short story It's an easy enough read full of the philosophical ueries and conclusions of its aged General about the meaning of life love honor killing obligation M M friendship But the guest is permitted only 5 8 lines He can't get a word in edgewise And Krisztina She has no voice I would like to read the novel Marai might have written about the ninety one year old Nini She captured my interest as none of the other characters did Early on it seemed as if Marai intended to make her central to the plot but alas he chose otherwiseI am glad I read Embers and will look for others of Marai's novels as they become available in English translations; however I will not press this one into friends' hands and insist that they do so Embers is perfect I just cannot find anything not to like about this book It’s a kind of book I have never uite read before It’s a simple novel but will definitely stay in my memory for a long time To think that it sat there gathering dust in my bookshelves for than 2 years What a pity if I died without reading this flawlessly engrossing work I only picked this because it is thin and seemed to me like a uick read I was behind by 8 books in my 2011 Reading Challenge here in Goodreads last weekend and I thought of catching up Sandor Marai 1900 1989 a Hungarian novelist and journalist wrote Embers in Hungarian when he was 42 and already living in San Diego CA He had to flee Hungary during the Nazi occupation not because he was a Jew but because he was profoundly an anti Fascist Just like Ernest Hemingway Hunter S Thompson and Richard Brautigan he committed suicide by shooting himself in the head He was 89 years old His works had been largely forgotten outside of Hungary and were only “rediscovered” in 1992 when Embers was re published in France then translated to other European languages In fact Marai’s works are now considered as part of the European Twentieth Century literary canon Source Wiki Embers or “The Candles Burn Down to the Stump” is written in a precise and clear realist style narrative It tells the story of two male friends the rich man Henrik and a poor man Konrad Their friendship started when they were in school and Henrik introduced Konrad to his rich father They became best friends almost like real brothers and inseparable Kondrad was even the one who introduced a girl called Krisztina to him who later became Henrik’s wife Then one day when the two men were 34 years old they went hunting and Henrik saw that Konrad was aiming his gun at him Later that day the three Henrik Konrad and Krisztina had their last dinner together in Henrik’s castle The following day Konrad left to Singapore without saying goodbye Henrik went to Konrad’s apartment and when he was about to leave he saw Krisztina there and uttered her last word to Henrik “Coward” From that day on Hendrik and Krisztina separated by living in the different buildings in Henrik’s property They did not talk to each other until Krisztina’s death 8 years after On her deathbed Krisztina was calling for HenrikThe novel opens when Henrik is 75 years old and Krisztina has been dead for 33 years Henrik receives a letter from Konrad also 75 saying that Konrad will come for dinner that same day What follows next is the slow and engrossing unfolding of truth on what happened 41 years ago during the hunt the dinner and the day at Konrad’s apartment The plot is this thin and almost no twists The storytelling is dominated by Henrik’s monologue that is a mixture of lamentation reminiscences and philosophy but delivered in composed swift firm yet almost in monotone That style makes the mood of the novel as chilling suspenseful and mind boggling as it delves into the core of our being human the pain of friendship love betrayal revenge and acceptance For 41 years Hendrik only thought of that day and he waited for Konrad’s return to know the truth The slow unfolding of it amidst the eerie locale Hungarian castle in the middle of the forest – the silence the dark and the image of the two old men talking to each other The slowness of the development of the story strangely makes the reading interesting It is like the slow opening of the castle’s door with all the creaking sound while the stillness of the night reverberates in one’s brain The only caution If you are a type of a reader who wants fast paced action and lots of twist don’t go for this book I guess you will appreciate this if you are at least in your middle age already andor you’ve been wronged or hurt by a loved one before and you haven’t forgiven him or her Marai’s words uttered by Hendrik can be a good start for you to find forgiveness lurking somewhere inside your heart Embers is a tale of heart breaking beauty The kind of beauty which is not apparent right at the onset but which makes its omnipresence felt as you keep turning the pages and reach that state of involvement with the narrative where you cannot wait to feast your eyes and senses on another delicately structured sentence It lies in the pall of gloom cast by the shadow of some tragedy unspoken of lurking in the dark cobwebbed nooks and corners of a secluded castle the relentless flow of time the sense of which the book tries to capture uite successfully and in the hollowness of life itselfThere is no worthwhile story to be found at its core since a reflection on love betrayal and the conseuences of human folly is nothing new But it is the handling of these themes which isSándor Márai has a way of creating a mood consistent with the dreariness of the story within and it is this mood which metamorphoses into an important character itself Like an invisible guiding force this mood becomes the reader's constant companion as heshe slowly navigates hisher way around the imperfect lives of Márai's characters He ends up imparting a restrained elegance even to the meanest of human tendencies like the insane urge to kill another and to the chilling finality in a man's feelings of disillusionment with life and the people he held dear to his heartIt is as if Márai's aim from the beginning had been not to bestow significance on numerous life events of a handful of people but instead on an acute analysis of human actions and how individual acts of indiscretion feature in the greater scheme of things How eventually everything dies out and ceases to matter after creating a few evanescent ripples on the surface of the placid lake of human existenceA few irritants have kept me from placing this book on my personal metaphysical pedestal of absolute literary perfection the objectification of women a subtle nod of approval to medieval values like the appreciation of gender specific character traits the seemingly endless and tedious monologue in the latter half of the book and a sense of perverse vanity the central characters seem to derive out of their European ancestry caused me to take away that 1 starBarring these minor causes of botheration Embers is near perfect It glows powerfully with the spirit of all actions and emotions so distinctly characteristic of life itself before burning out and surrendering itself to the inevitability of an ending Two old men one dimly lit room and the past awakening That's pretty much the set up for Sándor Márai's intensely felt and solemn 1942 novel which was originally titled 'Candles burn until the end' in Hungary He has a growing popularity post death due to his work but also his troubled life that is mirrored by Hungary's grave misfortunes in the 20th century and it's sad to think at the time he took his own life in California of all places in 1989 the literary world still knew little of him Born in the then Austro Hungarian empire Márai grew up with war revolution and exile before establishing himself as first a poet and then novelist but then followed war revolution and exile He is not only regarded as one of the great Hungarian writers but also a guardian of the nation's soul a sort of talisman of the new democratic Hungary With a shining honour and no interest in political games he infuriated the Nazis and the communists by refusing to have his work published in his native land whilst Soviet troops were present thus sentencing himself to obscurity and poverty At least he stood by his principles I admire him for thatEmbers is the sort of novel that doesn't come along that often in the way it uickly sets the scene then slowly arouses suspense keeping the reader on tenterhooks with uncertainty but never changes it's subtle pace It creeps around meticulously with a simple and elegant prose and gradually builds a vivid picture And it works beautifully As well as being an evocative study of a tightly bonded friendship long gone It is also an intriguing mystery as Márai is clever in the way he goes about giving the reader something to chew on but only enough as to keep us guessing of just what lies ahead You may have an idea but can't say for certain Only that a major event took place in the lives of two dear friends many years ago Not to do it disservice with too many key details so the basics An elderly aristocratic general haunted by bitter memories invites his close childhood friend Konrad who disappeared with haste 41 years ago under mysterious circumstances to a lavish dinner at his secluded castle of fading splendor The general talks Konrad simply listens and in the eerie flickering glow and shadows of candlelight we soon realise the meal doubles up as a sort of trial for Konrad who faces that of Henrik's prosecution which goes about reconstructing their past together Schooldays military academy and the years leading up to Konrad's vanishing actSome modern readers may find the high style of conversation sententious It is But then it has to be Here an aging aristocrat and his eually aged friend are talking about life's vagaries their lost hopes and dreams and redemptive love and they are doing so as the world they grew up in is vastly disappearing for good How else should they speak but with the seriousness of men going into the final years of life with a score to settle knowing fully well that death is tiptoeing ever closer Some may also be disappointed by the fact the final act goes out with a whimper rather than a wallop but for the type of story Márai has written It ends up being the right way to see it through and give some sort of closure for the two men The candles may have burned out but the novel will flicker away in my thoughts for some time to come “All that is left in the embers is ash black ash with the sheen of a mourning veil of watered silk”“Embers” is the ideal title to summon up the melancholic decadence that soaks the pages of this intense but short novella Candles burn until they are totally consumed by the flickering nature of their essence as it happens with life when confronted with its impending mortality Two old men General Henrik and Kondrád meet after forty years in a secluded castle in the heart of Hungary where the splendorous music of Chopin and flourishing soirees with elegantly attired guests that once crowded its saloons are now replaced by the stale odor of ageing and the heavy weight of secrets What initially looked like a nostalgic encounter between close friends gradually acuires shades of darker colors that escalate in intrigue and dramatic tension until the facts that ruined the lives of these two gentlemen are brought into full light by the ruthless evidence of words A duel without weapons is about to take place and the enduring memory of a woman will be the point into which both men’s destinies will convergeBut are facts or words for that matter enough to condemn a friend almost a brother for betrayal Does loyalty disable the unselfish love that should come with true friendshipIs revenge satisfactory in front of a wasted life overcast with doubt guilt and rancorMárai’s characters emerge from the intrigue he dexterously surrounds them with rather than the convoluted tapestry of their psychological portraits rscHenrik’s interrogation reads like a philosophical monologue than a real conversation and his guest remains a shadowy presence who listens passively to Henrik’s accusations But a handicap in Márai’s hands becomes a valuable assetThe counterpoint of the ghostly female characters Kristina and Nini presented in extreme roles; one as irresistible goddess that triggers wild passions the other as the saintly figure of devoted surrogate mother adds to the essence of the otherwise unoriginal tonality of the plotline Márai’s style is captivating and uniuely intimate His fresh prose brims over with achingly beautiful passages that invoke the glory of old times drenched with woe and wonder not exempt of nostalgia Henrik’s discourse is paced and calmly delivered with incisive meditations on the meaning of love jealousy and duty but the relentless pressure of his carefully selected words trap you and keep you turning pages with increasing frenzy until his past becomes your present and his mental landscape becomes your ownMárai uses the word as a liberating force as the ethic pillar on which the burden of a life that nears extinction can finally rest Passion might be the real motor of existence but Márai’s tale reminds us that reconciliation and words are reuired to give way to the future regardless of how dark that future might be Sandor Marai was born in 1900 in the former Austrian Hungarian Empire at a time when honor to one's country was of the upmost importance A staunch anti fascist following the rise of the iron curtain Marai was forced to flee his homeland and lived out his remaining days in California First published in 1942 and recovered with his other novels Embers is fast becoming a modern classic A throwback to a time when royalty living in isolated castles was a common practice in Europe Embers reveals an intimate look at life and relationships Henrik has turned 75 and has lived with his nurse Nini aged 91 in a castle outside of Vienna for the past 41 years Upon hearing that his old friend Konrad will be arriving and joining him for dinner Henrik looks back at the chapters of his life focusing on how both he and Konrad have gotten to where they are at this moment Once friends as close as twin brothers the pair has not seen each other since a incident with Henrik's wife Krisztina forty one years ago After the incident Konrad fled to the Tropics while Henrik remained in his castle alone A son of the landed aristocracy on both sides of his family Henrik was expected to go into the military academy at a young age Yet the only person who he ever felt love and affection from was his nursemaid Nini As a result Henrik became depressed at the academy until he met Konrad Henrik's father welcomed Konrad into the family yet cautioned his son that Konrad was a different type of person destined for a career other than military The pair although polar opposites remained friends through their twenties Marai writes how Henrik's and Konrad's lives moved on divergent paths All these years later the men do not desire to rekindle their friendship as the title may imply but to find out the answers to uestions that have lingered for this long Styling his prose by alternating between posing uestions between the two with Henrik's recollections of the past had me desiring to find out the conclusion to this complicated web of emotions Marai also posed an intriguing view on friendships and relationships that left me captivated by the novel through its closure Sandor Marai is a new author for me and I am glad that I uncovered this fascinating novel His novels were considered bestsellers before Hungary fell into fascist hands and are now being translated into English I rate this hidden gem a solid 4 stars and look forward to reading of his works as they become available Beautiful words that form sentences that makes one stop and think A exuisitely written story very descriptive one can picture the scenes down to the minutest of detail Friendship the most expressive definition of a friendship between two men from different backgrounds that I have ever read Betrayal love pride and at the last a definition of aging that is searingI cannot say enough about the experience of reading this book except to say it is one that I will long remember and that I must seek out of this amazing author's work One uote from the book had me thinking about it on and off all dayIt is not true that fate slips silently into our lives It steps in through the door that we have opened and we invite it to enter