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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction



Krasznahorkai László

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To purchase Animalinside

Title: Animalinside
Author: Krasznahorkai László
Genre: Fiction
Written: 2010 (Eng. 2010)
Length: 39 pages
Original in: Hungarian
Availability: Animalinside - US
Animalinside - UK
Animalinside - Canada
Animalinside - India
  • Hungarian title: ÁllatVanBent
  • With illustrations by Max Neumann
  • Translated by Ottilie Mulzet
  • Preface by Colm Tóibín.
  • Originally published as part of The Cahiers Series

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Our Assessment:

(--) : beautiful collaboration

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
The National A 3/6/2011 Scott Esposito
The New Yorker . 4/7/2011 James Wood
Rev. of Contemp. Fiction . Summer/2011 Michael Pinker

  From the Reviews:
  • "Animalinside is 48 pages long, but it is a large read and you will see few more beautifully produced works of literature this year. (...) (A) book in which a galaxy of implication springs from Neumann's striking, muscular animal form. It is an iconic image, somewhere between a demented howl and a vicious leap, instantly recognisable, adaptable, enigmatic. (...) Although Animalinside is a writhingly complex work, the language throughout tends towards the simple. (...) Mulzet's translation does not feel foreign so much as stateless, a kind of transcontinental English suitable to the existentialist myth Krasznahorkai has created." - Scott Esposito, The National

  • "By the end of this relentless text, the dog has passed through the political and become metaphysical or theological (.....) And though Krasznahorkai's dog seems to be thinking its savage thoughts and threats and aiming them at the human in a terrible monologue, the subtle suggestion is that this may be nothing more than the recitation of human fear, a projection of savagery, by the man mildly reading his newspaper." - James Wood, The New Yorker

  • "As this remarkable series metamorphoses by word and image into a study of defiance and resistance suggestive of an ultimate show of brutal force, the imaginative power of each artist compels attention to the rigors of their dueling visions." - Michael Pinker, Review of Contemporary Fiction

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       Animalinside was first published as a volume in the wonderful The Cahiers Series (it is now also available, under different cover, in a limited edition from New Directions). The express goal of the Cahiers is: " to make available new explorations in writing, in translating, and in the areas linking these two activities", and, like several of the volumes, Animalinside is also a collaboration between artist and writer -- in this case Max Neumann and Krasznahorkai László, with Krasznahorkai's texts the initial form of 'translation' of Neumann's illustrations.
       Neumann's fourteen illustrations all feature the same featureless animal -- it could be a dog or panther --, its two hind legs half-stretched as if ready to pounce. It is an identical papercut, entirely black in almost all the pictures, and sometimes with several of them posed together, that is found in all the illustrations.
       Alongside each illustration, Krasznahorkai provides a text that is both description and commentary, a possible reading of what is being depicted, with Krasznahorkai shifting quickly from third to first person narrative, seeing himself as the animal in these pictures
       The interplay between illustrator and writer works well, and both pictures and text are arresting. If not quite a full-fledged narrative, Krasznahorkai's prose-texts are more than mere picture-commentary, as he imagines himself deep into the images.
       Featureless, the animal is nearly a blank slate, only its unchanging pose and its surroundings -- varying in the pictures, which themselves offer little detail -- suggesting anything. The animal(s) are presented as largely under control, but also threatening; at one point, for example:

I am inscrutable and invisible and impenetrable, you don't even know when, you don't even know where, you don't even know why, and this is the main thing that can trouble you, because there is no answer to the why and there never will be, but in reality within all of you there is no answer to anything, there you stand alone, blundering with your locks, futilely fumbling with the barbed wire, wheezing and writhing and groaning under the weight of the beams that you want to put up against me, and it's good like this, this is how it should be, because you comprehend annihilation and that is why I am coming, so that there will be some meaning to the very fears, the many terrors and anxieties and worries, which are yourselves
       A very attractive little volume -- beautifully produced and presented --, Animalinside is a fascinating textual-visual reading-experience, with Neumann's simple, suggestive illustrations matched nicely with Krasznahorkai's powerful readings of and on them.

- M.A.Orthofer, 1 March 2012

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Animalinside: Reviews: Krasznahorkai László: Other books by Krasznahorkai László under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Hungarian author Krasznahorkai László was born in 1954.

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© 2012-2015 the complete review

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