The Invisible Voice: Meditations on Jewish Themes

Fordító: Peter Reich
Kiadó: Harcourt
Kiadás helye: Orlando
Kiadás éve: 1999
ISBN szám: 978-0156012942
Nyelv: angol

Editorial reviews:

The Invisible Voice: Meditations on Jewish Themes is a collection of essays by the Hungarian Jewish writer George Konrad. The 20 pieces printed here were written between 1985 and 1997. They include Konrad's thoughts on German collective guilt, assimilation, the situation of the Diaspora Jew, and the conflict between Israel and Palestine. Konrad, who was born in 1933, was imprisoned in Budapest in 1956 for his political writings. There followed alternating periods of exile from and return to his native country, and in 1989 his writings again exerted a seminal influence in Eastern Europe, comparable with the influence of works by Vaclav Havel and Milan Kundera. Konrad's writing is distinguished by its dogged pursuit of moral questions about the extent of personal responsibility within a community and the effects of social policy on . Among the most interesting pieces in The Invisible Voice is Konrad's essay „On Jewish and Christian Reconciliation,” in which he asserts that „If these two religions want to live, they must take account of the two thousand years that have passed since biblical times, of everything people have done and written since then.” This necessitates that „Both must take account of a third spiritual authority,” which Konrad equates with „the fundamental idea of human rights,” though he denounces facile notions that are often attached to that term. „A human being must not submit his freedom of conscience to any human institution, neither state nor church,” Konrad writes. „European experience has proved that the dignity of the human individual is an unvanquishable virtue.” Such incisive thinking makes The Invisible Voice a very valuable and Best Trampoline

From Publishers Weekly
Hungarian novelist, essayist and former International PEN president Konrad (The Case Worker) might just as easily have subtitled this ruminative book „Meditations on Central European Themes.” Having survived the Holocaust almost by a fluke, the author endured Hungary's Communist years; he retains the sceptical worldview of an intellectual, unobservant Hungarian replica horloges Jew whose hybrid identity invokes „two instructively unfortunate peoples.” Conversational but somber, these 20 essays, written from 1985 to 1997, are divided into sections that are numbered continuously throughout the book, which may seem odd, but aptly suggests connective themes and ironies. „I do not believe people are good by nature,” he declares at the outset, and continues in an even more provocative vein by arguing that „the Jewish people bear some of the responsibility for becoming victims in such horrifying proportions.” Sidestepping the notion of community, Konrad instead interprets Jewishness as „the imperative of personal freedom of thought.” Unlike many friends, he stayed in Hungary after the 1956 Soviet invasion, believing that „a sane democracy could be fashioned here.” Though he acknowledges ruefully that he didn't think it would take 33 years, he remains optimistic about pluralism and democracy at home. As for Israel, he wonders about the sacrifices implied by nationalism: „they gave up being cosmopolitan... and therefore they lost something of value.” The Bible, muses this essentially literary man, need not be regarded as „the sacred word,” but as a novel with worthy parables. His probing mind provokes further meditations and yields many insights. (May)