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The Door
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Published:
New York Review Books 2015
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Description
One of The New York Times Book Review's "10 Best Books of 2015"
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.
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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
01/27/2015
Language:
English
ISBN:
9781590178010
ASIN:
B00MZW8TG8
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Citations
APA Citation (style guide)

Magda Szabo. (2015). The Door. New York Review Books.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Magda Szabo. 2015. The Door. New York Review Books.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Magda Szabo, The Door. New York Review Books, 2015.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Magda Szabo. The Door. New York Review Books, 2015.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2022. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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Date Added:
Jun 12, 2018 17:49:55
Date Updated:
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      • role: Author
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      • bioText: Magda Szabó (1917–2007) was born into an old Protestant family in Debrecen, Hungary’s “Calvinist Rome,” in the midst of the great Hungarian plain. Szabó, whose father taught her to converse with him in Latin, German, English, and French, attended the University of Debrecen, studying Latin and Hungarian, and went on to work as a teacher throughout the German and  Soviet occupations of Hungary in 1944 and 1945. In 1947, she published two volumes of poetry, Bárány (The Lamb), and Vissza az emberig (Return to Man), for which she received the Baumgartner Prize in 1949. Under Communist rule, this early critical success became a liability, and Szabó turned to writing fiction: her first novel, Freskó (Fresco), came out  in 1958, followed closely by Az oz (The Fawn). In 1959 she won the József Attila Prize, after which she went on to write many more novels, among them Katalin utca (Katalin Street, 1969), Ókút (The Ancient Well, 1970), Régimódi történet (An Old-Fashioned Tale, 1971), and Az ajtó (The Door, 1987). Szabó also wrote verse for children, plays, short stories, and nonfiction, including a tribute to her husband, Tibor Szobotka, a writer and translator of Tolkien and Galsworthy who died in 1982. A member of the European Academy of Sciences and a warden of the Calvinist Theological Seminary in Debrecen, Magda Szabó died in the town in which she was born, a book in her hand. In 2017 NYRB Classics will publish Iza’s Ballad (1963).
        Len Rix is a poet, critic, and former literature professor who has translated five books by Antal Szerb, including the novel Journey by Moonlight (available as an NYRB Classic) and, most recently, the travel memoir The Third Tower. In 2006 he was awarded the Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize for his translation of The Door.
        Ali Smith was born in Inverness, Scotland, in 1962 and lives in Cambridge. Her latest novel is How to Be Both.
      • name: Magda Szabo
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NYRB Classics
publishDate
2015-01-27T00:00:00-05:00
isOwnedByCollections
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title
The Door
fullDescription
One of The New York Times Book Review's "10 Best Books of 2015"
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.
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reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: Emily Temple, Lit Hub's '10 Best Translated Novels of the Decade'
      • content: "I remember the feeling I had only a few pages in: that this was a voice unlike any I'd ever read--elevated, almost cold, but bristling with passion beneath the surface--and that the book was very, very good."
      • premium: False
      • source: Claire Messud, The New York Times Book Review
      • content: "Beautifully translated by Len Rix . . . New York Review Books Classics--acting, yet again, in its capacity as the Savior of Lost Greats--has now delivered this version to an American audience. If you've felt that you're reasonably familiar with the literary landscape, 'The Door' will prompt you to reconsider. It's astonishing that this masterpiece should have been essentially unknown to English-language readers for so long . . . suffice it to say that I've been haunted by this novel. Szabo's lines and images come to my mind unexpectedly, and with them powerful emotions. It has altered the way I understand my own life. [It is] a work of stringent honesty and delicate subtlety."
      • premium: False
      • source: John Williams, The New York Times
      • content: "'The Door' is a deeply strange and equally affecting book, a dark domestic fairy tale about the relationship between a Hungarian writer, Magda, and her taciturn elderly housekeeper, Emerence."
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        November 24, 2014
        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.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        A deeply affecting novel, first published in Hungary in 1987, from one of Europe's most prominent modern writers.Szabo's narrator, not coincidentally named Magda, recalls an emotionally fraught 20-year relationship with her housekeeper. As the book opens in postwar communist Hungary, a decadelong political freeze on her writing career has been lifted and Magda seeks out a domestic helper to care for her and her husband's new home in Budapest while she begins to write again. Through an old classmate's recommendation, she meets Emerence Szeredas, an inscrutable older woman built like a "mythological hero" whose years of experience working in the neighborhood have rendered her a revered and almost iconic figure in town. Right off the bat, Magda learns that Emerence won't just work for anybody: "This was the first time anyone had required references from us." And after hijacking the interview, Emerence waits a whole week before appearing again to accept the job. Though beloved by many, Emerence keeps her complicated history private and lives alone in a flat--hermetically sealed off from the rest of the world--that even her closest friends are forbidden to enter. From the start of their relationship, Magda is perplexed by the enigmatic woman who is so unlike her--a peasant, "anti-intellectual," and staunch atheist--but who moves and speaks with an inimitable elegance ("Emerence...was perfect in every respect; at times oppressively so") and shows a resolute indifference toward Magda for the first five years of her employment. As the years wear on, though, an intimacy manifests between the two that can only be described as landing somewhere between an endearing mother-daughter relationship and that of a contemptuous love affair. Their story is utterly compelling and often unnerving. Magda turns to Emerence for affirmation, and Emerence doles out her affection for Magda in peculiar, sometimes volatile, acts, eventually making the grand gesture of inviting Magda into her apartment. But things take a turn for the worse and terror ensues when Magda's career takes off and Emerence falls gravely ill. Szabo discerns the complex nature of human emotion with sensitivity and prowess in this hypnotizing work of art. A haunting exploration of age, class, love, and loss that demands to be read and read again. COPYRIGHT(1) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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shortDescription
One of The New York Times Book Review's "10 Best Books of 2015"
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.
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