Monday, February 16, 2009

Esther's Inheritance by Sandor Marai

Sandor Marai understands economy. In less than 150 pages, he takes the reader of Esther's Inheritance into the strange relationship between Esther and Lajos. Esther was, and still is, in love with Lajos, he with the glib tongue and good with the cons. But he married her sister. And now, some 20 years later, she receives notice that he is coming to see her. There is some worrying, there is definitely excitement. Friends are rounded up as a form of protection for Esther. For despite the many years and the many wrongs, she still feels for him:

"I was already defending him. What could I do? He was the only man I ever loved."

While Esther is no longer young and foolish, Lajos still manages to charm and weasel his way into their hearts and lives.

"...we stared at each other amazed, as if we has fallen under the spell of an Indian fakir at work; the fakir he thrown a rope into the air, climbed the rope, and disappeared among the clouds before our very eyes. We were looking at the sky, seeking him there, and were astonished to see that he was taking a bow among us, here on earth, his begging bowl in front of him. "

As I sit at my computer to recollect this book, I can't help but think of the movie we watched last night - The Day The Earth Stood Still. Characterisation? None. Emotions? Hardly. Storyline? Eh. And all in two hours, which is roughly the amount of time needed to read Esther's Inheritance. And yet in those two hours spent reading, the characters, the writing spun me into this little world with no special effects, but just by reading some brilliantly written words. I could have spent another two, ten, twenty hours reading, whereas the movie was just two hours too long.


Andi said...

I have never heard of Marai, but now I'll have to keep my eyes peeled. Thanks for introducing me to a new writer.

olduvai said...

You're welcome!