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Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Other editions. Enlarge cover. Error rating book. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Agnes Csomos Translator. Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. Published March 8th by Salamandra first published More Details Original Title.
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It digs into feeling and motives in exquisite detail, to the point where you ask yourself, how can one person have this much knowledge of human nature? We see a marriage from three perspectives each written in the first person as a conversation with a friend.
A man tells his story to a friend in a bar. His ex-wife the first tells her story to a girlfriend in a coffee shop; and the second ex-wife tells her story to a lover in a hotel room. This book would make a great 3-act play. The main theme of the novel is fundamentally class and each person is a bit of a caricature of their class in Europe between the World Wars.
He of course is an aristocrat. The first wife is from the upward striving middle class. The second is wife is from the lower class. In a kind of upstairs-downstairs reflection, we get the best picture and the most devastating portrayal of the aristocratic class from a former scullery maid. His body was required to work for him.
Marai is a genius and this book is a classic. He wrote 42 books and only five have been translated into English, and only since , so we have a lot to look forward to. View all 22 comments. Shelves: read-in Three confessions in the first person narrative that speak from the vortexes of a love triangle: the wife, the husband and the other woman.
The middle class lady, the cultured bourgeois and the destitute maid. Three different versions of the same truth, the same timeline of events, seen through the diverging lenses of subjective interpretations that cast endless shadows over the protagonists, whose fears, betrayals and murderous passions will sentence them to a permanent estrangement from each other, rendering them unable to break through the masks of their unbending social backgrounds and deluded expectations.
Who is the true wife? The one who acts as such or the one who has made a slave of the dignified gentleman? Are there any guilty parties when unrequited love subdues rationality?
When desperation rules over pride? When the impending loss of the one we were meant to be with dictates our actions? The reader listens with growing stupefaction, dazzled by the raw, naked honesty of each monologue and has no other choice than to absolve them all, because each party is a victim of self-deception, not only in the personal sphere but also in the role they play in the drastic social transformation that takes place in Europe after WWII. Truth tends to be a painful business, but one we do need to confront, to accept, if we aspire to live without bitterness and spite.
View all 50 comments. The story opens in a bar in post-war Budapest with Ilonka, who comes from a middle class family, 4. The story opens in a bar in post-war Budapest with Ilonka, who comes from a middle class family, holds marriage as sacrosanct, and divorce a sacrilege; recalling her marriage to Peter, an aristocrat, with loneliness and bitter regret.
Peter's perspective follows, formed by a highly privileged upbringing, therefore more cerebral than emotional; adding the necessary detail that sheds some light on the relationship that baffled the innocent Ilonka. Your heart must let me go. I can't live under conditions of such emotional tension. There are men more feminine than me, for whom it is vital to be loved.
There are others who, even at the best of times, can only just about tolerate the feeling of being loved.
I am that kind. He was not my favorite character. The most striking voice comes from Judit, the second wife, whose dirt-poor rags to riches story gives the reader a clear vision of the change also occurring in Hungary. Her version is the most earthbound and realistic, her own change the most dramatic. These people were sure they had a role in the world; I don't mean just in business, copying those people who had had great power when they themselves had little power.
What they believed was that when it came down to it, they were putting the world into some sort of order, that with them in charge, the lords of the world would not be such great lords as they had been and the proles would not remain in abject poverty, as we once were.
They thought the whole world would eventually accept their values; that even while one group moved down and another one up, they, the bourgeois, would keep their position - even in a world where everything was being turned upside down.
Since much of the flashback events occurred in wartime, the book is not only a journal of the deconstruction of a marriage, it chronicles the decline and dissolution of a strictly hierarchical society, and the barbaric destruction and widespread devastation that left Europe in ruins as a result of the war.
He rose to fame as one of the leading literary novelists in Hungary in the s. Profoundly anti-fascist he survived the war but persecution by the Communists drove him from the country in , first to Italy, then to the United States. His [highly acclaimed] novel Embers was published for the first time in English in Is passion so deep and terrible and magnificent and inhuman? Is it indeed about desiring any one person, or is it about desiring desire itself? That is the question.
View all 12 comments. How should I put this? Portraits of a Marriage is a masterpiece. Portraits of a Marriage is one of the greatest 20th century novels. Portraits of a Marriage is a work whose psychological finesse equals that of Proust. And finally, Portraits of a Marriage is a novel about the nature of romantic love written with the raw lucidity one finds only in Tolstoy or Stefan Zweig. It is the most intelligent analysis of bourgeois culture I have ever read, written from the perspective of an outsider, which makes it sound at times like an anthropological study.
If you read only one novel this year, read this! View all 8 comments. I find this a hard book to judge -as at different points in the book I would have judged it very differently. But as the ending is the worst bit, and I've just finished it so that part is mostly in my mind, it gets only 3 stars. This is at times a brilliant book with fabulous insights into class, sex, wealth, culture, love and the meaning of life.
For any of my fellow English who think class is a uniquely English preoccupation this is worth reading to put that prejudice to bed. But it is also I find this a hard book to judge -as at different points in the book I would have judged it very differently.
But it is also at times repetitive and dull. The characters are interesting, but somewhat unbelievable as all of them have an intense insight into the human condition. They are all a little bit too reflective. For me, the second and third monologues are the best. The final and shortest is the worst - and the way the author tries to neatly wrap up the story at the end is far too neat for this class of writing. Almost brilliant, but in the end it does not achieve it.
If you are happy to read a long book for occasional brilliance then it is worth it - but if you want a consistent level of brilliance, this does not have it. Sep 26, M. Though this is basically a negative review I still believe the novel Portraits of a Marriage is definitely worth reading.
La mujer justa / The Fair Women
La mujer justa