An NYRB Classics Original
The Door is an unsettling exploration of the relationship between two very different women. Magda is a writer, educated, married to an academic, public-spirited, with an on-again-off-again relationship to Hungary s Communist authorities. Read more...
An NYRB Classics Original
The Door is an unsettling exploration of the relationship between two very different women. Magda is a writer, educated, married to an academic, public-spirited, with an on-again-off-again relationship to Hungary s Communist authorities. Emerence is a peasant, illiterate, impassive, abrupt, seemingly ageless. She lives alone in a house that no one else may enter, not even her closest relatives. She is Magda s housekeeper and she has taken control over Magda s household, becoming indispensable to her. And Emerence, in her way, has come to depend on Magda. They share a kind of love at least until Magda s long-sought success as a writer leads to a devastating revelation.
Len Rix s prizewinning translation of The Door at last makes it possible for American readers to appreciate the masterwork of a major modern European writer."
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2014-11-24
- Reviewer: Staff
In this poignant but long-winded novel by the late Hungarian author Szabó, a writer recounts her decades-long relationship with—and eventual betrayal of—her enigmatic and emotionally volatile housekeeper. The story opens in postwar Hungary, narrated from old age by the protagonist, who remains unnamed for much of the novel. After having their careers “politically frozen,” the narrator and her husband (also a writer) begin to work again and seek out domestic help for their new home in Budapest. They hire Emerence Szeredás, a local peasant with an air of authority and “strength like a Valkyrie.” Though Emerence initially proves an antagonistic worker—attacking the narrator’s belief in God, for instance—she eventually develops a deep affection for, and reliance upon, her employers. Over the years, she reveals secrets about her childhood and her peripheral involvement in Hungary’s troubled political past, ultimately inviting the narrator into her apartment, which she notoriously—and suspiciously—protects. Szabó is a master tension builder, and Emerence’s demise (foretold in the novel’s opening pages) is heartbreakingly rendered. But an abundance of unnecessary detail weighs down what is otherwise a lucid and politically intriguing character study. (Jan.)