MAGDA SZABO THE DOOR PDF

Save Story Save this story for later. Nell was reading a book. When she raised her eyes from the page, she looked like someone who had stepped back from the curb at the very last moment before being hit by a bus. In , she began working in in the Ministry of Education, and two years later she married Tibor Szobotka, a writer who was the Hungarian translator of James Joyce and George Eliot, among others. The couple had no children.

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Not that most of us Anglophones would know it, as very little of her work has been translated into English. A decade later, 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. It has altered the way I understand my own life. Now it was picking up again and here, in this new setting, I had become a full-time writer, with increased opportunities and countless responsibilities. Fire glowed all around her.

She was tall, big-boned, powerfully built for a person of her age, muscular rather than fat, and she radiated strength like a Valkyrie. Animals of all kinds gravitate to her; people in the neighborhood rely on her, look up to her and are grateful for her charity. But in return, she remains stern and aloof.

She encourages the couple when they adopt a dog, then names him Viola and trains him so that she is his real mistress. She relies on Magda for help when awaiting an undisclosed but important visitor. She introduces Magda to her trio of close friends, who surround her like the three Fates. She bestows upon Magda and her husband a number of gifts that they resist at their peril. And, through all of this, tempestuous, the two women repeatedly argue and reconcile.

The greatest intimacy Emerence shares with Magda is to permit her to cross the threshold of her home, to witness her secrets. It is a unique privilege: Although Emerence entertains a great deal on her porch, she never allows anyone beyond the front door.

Her life had become an integral part of my own. This led to the dreadful thought that one day I would lose her, that if I survived her there would be yet another addition to those ubiquitous, indefinable shadow-presences that wrack me and drive me to despair.

The dog Viola — as vivid and fully realized a character as any human, a truly great literary dog — is essential to their love for each other. Their treatment of this creature is a manifestation of their disparate experiences. She may be a mere housekeeper, but she is also an indomitable icon. It is a stature, Szabo implies, of which Emerence is not unaware, which makes the onset of her human frailty, the advent of true old age, perilous and tragic. When that time comes, Magda and Emerence understand differently what it means to care lovingly for an ailing friend.

An unintended, heartbreaking betrayal inevitably ensues. It sets a highly dramatic tone that, in literal terms, is not borne out by the ordinary events that follow. But there is nothing simply ordinary about the friendship between these two women. But not even then will it be possible to soften the fate of a woman for whom no one has made a place in their life.

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‘The Door,’ by Magda Szabo

The Door unlocks something bigger than friendship: it is a story of two souls, from two different generations and socio-political realms, caught in sudden alignment. Szabo finds the emotional core of her two characters and stabs them slowly, exquisitely, into ours. Originally written in Hungary in , The Door seethes under the mantle of a familiar story: a mismatched pair teeters between friendship and loathing, influenced not only by their social class and generation but their raw constitution. At times she treats them like children, bringing them peculiar gifts, and at other times like a therapeutic confidant.

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Magda Szabó

Not that most of us Anglophones would know it, as very little of her work has been translated into English. A decade later, 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. It has altered the way I understand my own life. Now it was picking up again and here, in this new setting, I had become a full-time writer, with increased opportunities and countless responsibilities. Fire glowed all around her. She was tall, big-boned, powerfully built for a person of her age, muscular rather than fat, and she radiated strength like a Valkyrie. Animals of all kinds gravitate to her; people in the neighborhood rely on her, look up to her and are grateful for her charity.

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Labours of love

Plot[ edit ] The novel begins with Magda, the narrator, recounting the recurring dream that haunts her in her old age. As Magda explains, after waking up from this dream, she is forced to face the fact that "I killed Emerence". When the story begins, Magda has just come into favour with the government and her works are finally allowed to be published again. She realises that she must employ a housekeeper to be able to dedicate herself to writing full-time. A former classmate recommends an older woman named Emerence. Emerence agrees to come work for her on her own terms, but she will not, she informs Magda, just be a person to "wash the dirty linen" of whoever is willing to hire her. For several years, Magda and Emerence have a somewhat unconventional relationship.

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