"repeat everything exactly as it is in the original regardless of what the English language WANTS"

Those were the instructions given by László Krasznahorkai to his translator. With greater context, the quote reads:

. . . there are many repetitions in the text, and this is very important; repeat everything exactly as it is in the original regardless of what the English language WANTS . . .

Krasznahorkai is a writer who tests the endurance of sentences. He has a nine-page, one-sentence story in Best European Fiction 2011. At The Quarterly Conversation, David Auerbach notes:

The story is orchestrated with passages like these, which (if you are of a certain temperament) entrance and confound as they twist back on themselves. They may bear some stylistic similarity to Thomas Bernhard, but that is all at the surface. While Bernhard uses rhythmic repetition and slight variation to hone in on precise but ambiguous motifs, Krasznahorkai piles on contradictions and reversals: not explicitly, not dialectically, but in the ever-lengthening conditions, slight disparities, and digressions inserted into these long sentences. (Javier Marias has used similar devices, though to more prosaic and less effective ends.) What seems like a rephrasing often turns out, on closer examination, to be a reimagining, as one idea turns into another.

The quote at the top of this post is from a review of a work of Krasznahorkai’s that has just been translated: Animalinside (available from New Directions in the U.S. next April, and originally translated into English by the American University of Paris as a Cahier).

The translator of Animalinside, Ottilie Mulzet, concludes that Krasznahorkai’s command is correct:

Not only did I adhere to this advice, but even before receiving the message I was personally aware of how appropriate this command was. It is not only because the many repetitions, the circumlocutions and circumnavigations of the (fourteen) sentence-blocks are intrinsic to the aesthetic integrity of Animalinside: even more crucially, repetition is intrinsic to the idea of apocalypse in itself. There is the repetition of the endlessly produced scenarios of ‘cosmic terror’, each one gaining authority from the one previous – and the self-generation of authority through the bestial auto-cannibalism of words and phrases, evoking a bond between narrator and a nihilistic infinity. And yet, as the Beast himself notes, he loathes and detests infinity.

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