Multiple Exposure (Wenckheim X)

The chapter To the Hungarians begins with newspaper editors discussing whether a certain tract they have received should be published. This tract is a hate sermon against the Hungarians, and some excerpts are read to us:

… and you’re spineless and two-faced, perfidious and contemptible, lying and rootless, because after you’ve exploited somebody, you do the same thing, namely you throw them away, you spit into their eyes, if they’re not good for anything else, because you’re primitive,…

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The text culminates in a generalizing damnation of all of humanity.

… moreover this true monstrosity, while he has his bad moments, at times stumbles across a good intention within himself, but he quickly forgets about that, and it remains a mere memory, but he builds upon it later, as this sort of monstrosity is convinced that fate has selected him for good, or at the very least as the representative of truth, his own truth, …

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In the meantime, violence is erupting in the city, a first to statues,

unknown assailants knocked over the bust of Countess Krisztina Wenckheim, but not only that, they completely smashed apart her face with a hatchet,

then to animals,

…on Wednesday at midnight he found two cattle frozen in their own blood, their heads were also smashed apart,…

and finally to humans

…Irén’s horrific death — as they found her on the sidewalk, having to see that beloved human face now smashed into fragments…

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This is a chapter about fear, incited by propaganda, and backed by the actions of a nameless mob.

… she had a bad premonition about things, but what was so bad wasn’t even that people had forgotten the events of the past few days, but that the speed of all these events was like that of some kind of flood when it breaks across a dam, the events occurring and occurring one after the other,…

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What we fear is not the singular incident but it becoming the daily routine. Krasznahorkai invokes this mechanism by using repeating patterns at the level of the narrative as well as that of language itself:

… because they came down Csabai Road, and they came down Dobozi Road, and they came from the Romanian border, they came from the direction of Eleki Road, from every single direction they came, rumbling, the pneumatic brakes screeching, then the engines revved, then the pneumatic brakes again, they came in a line, one after the other, and within the space of barely an hour the entire city was full of these gigantically enormous fuel carriers, and the whole thing was as if they’d ended up here by mistake, as if they wanted to go someplace completely different,…

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All this, the threats, the violence, the feeling of foreboding, the arrival of an enormous number of gasoline tanks, is only preparation:

… and then suddenly — as if the entire thing were dependent on a single switch — the entire city was plunged into total darkness,…

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