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Voyage to Kazohiniaby Sandor Szathmari
Synopses & Reviews
A page-turning dystopian classic that stands alongside Brave New World and Gulliver's Travels.
Voyage to Kazohinia is a tour de force of twentieth-century literature--and it is here published in English for the first time outside of Hungary. Sándor Szathmári's comical novel chronicles the travels of a modern Gulliver on the eve of World War II. A shipwrecked English ship's surgeon finds himself on an unknown island whose inhabitants, the Hins, live a technologically advanced existence without emotions, desires, arts, money, or politics. Soon unhappy amid this bleak perfection, Gulliver asks to be admitted to the closed settlement of the Behins, beings with souls and atavistic human traits. He has seen nothing yet. A massively entertaining mix of satire and science fiction, Voyage to Kazohinia has seen half a dozen editions in Hungary in the seventy years since its original publication and remains the country's most popular cult classic.
"Despite its wit and intelligence, the late SzathmÃ¡ri's dystopian cult classic (originally published in Hungary in 1941) flounders in a sea of details. Gulliver (yes, that Gulliver) is alive in 1935 and employed as a surgeon on the British ship Trafalgar. After a shipwreck, Gulliver washes up on the island of Kazohinia, which is populated by bizarre inhabitants who speak a strange language that seems to have been 'compiled artificially.' The populace is divided into the enlightened Hins, who wear unnerving smiles as if they were 'a regular geometric feature' of the face and do not understand emotions; the 'ignorant' Belohins; and the 'recalcitrant' Behins. Guided along by a Hin named Zataman, Gulliver explores the island and its people, whose sense of morality and society force Gulliver to reconsider his own understanding of life, love, and death. There's no shortage of ponderous material, but by failing to create memorable characters (or, in the case of Gulliver, recreate), the author has not produced — as Swift before him did — a timeless classic, but an intermittently interesting artifact. (July)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Sándor Szathmári (1897-1974) was among the most extraordinary and elusive figures in twentieth-century Hungarian literature. The author of two published novels and several story collections in his native tongue, he is best known for Voyage to Kazohina--which, titled Kazohinia on most editions in Hungary, has been treasured by generations of readers.
Szathmári spent much of his career as a mechanical engineer; this, together with his limited oeuvre, the biting satire of his magnum opus, and his political persuasions--which ranged from an early, ambivalent affiliation with communism to anticommunism as Hungary became a communist dictatorship--kept him ever on the margins of the officially sanctioned literary establishment.
A central figure in Hungary's Esperanto movement for decades, Szathmári published his writings--including, most famously, Voyage to Kazohinia--in his own Esperanto-language editions, ensuring him a measure of international recognition and literary freedom during the communist era. The author lives in Died in 1974.
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