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Abigail (1970)

– tekijä: Magda Szabó

Muut tekijät: Katso muut tekijät -osio.

JäseniäKirja-arvostelujaSuosituimmuussijaKeskimääräinen arvioMaininnat
2301590,333 (4.34)30
"Of all Szabó's novels, Abigail deserves the widest readership . . . Brilliantly written" TIBOR FISCHER "Szabó is skilful at creating moments of heart-rending tension, often through exquisite, evocative prose . . . the novel has a devastating power" Spectator A teenage girl's difficult journey towards adulthood in a time of war. Of all her novels, Magda Szabó's Abigail is the most widely read in her native Hungary. Now, fifty years after it was written, it appears for the first time in English, joining Katalin Street and The Door in a loose trilogy about the impact of war on those who have to live with the consequences. It is late 1943 and Hitler, exasperated by the slowness of his Hungarian ally to act on the "Jewish question" and alarmed by the weakness on his southern flank, is preparing to occupy the country. Foreseeing this, and concerned for his daughter's safety, a Budapest father decides to send her to a boarding school away from the capital. A lively, sophisticated, somewhat spoiled teenager, she is not impressed by the reasons she is given, and when the school turns out to be a fiercely Puritanical one in a provincial city a long way from home, she rebels outright. Her superior attitude offends her new classmates and things quickly turn sour. It is the start of a long and bitter learning curve that will open her eyes to her arrogant blindness to other people's true motives and feelings. Exposed for the first time to the realities of life for those less privileged than herself, and increasingly confronted by evidence of the more sinister purposes of the war, she learns lessons about the nature of loyalty, courage, sacrifice and love. Translated from the Hungarian by Len Rix… (lisätietoja)
  1. 00
    And Both Were Young (tekijä: Madeleine L'Engle) (foggidawn)
  2. 00
    The Testaments (tekijä: Margaret Atwood) (Dilara86)
    Dilara86: One is speculative fiction, the other isn't, but they both take place in a girls-only school at a time of war/unrest and describe female microcosms, friendships between teenage girls, ambiguous authority figures, and young girls who take risks.
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englanti (14)  italia (1)  Kaikki kielet (15)
Näyttää 1-5 (yhteensä 15) (seuraava | näytä kaikki)
Engaging, if uneven, story of Gina, a privileged teenaged girl consigned without explanation to a rigid, forbidding religious girls' boarding school by her beloved father as World War II rumbles around them in Hungary. Every single aspect of the girls' lives is fiercely controlled, from their hair braids and underwear, to the content of their consored letters. Gina is utterly miserable. When she impulsively betrays a secret and silly game played by her classmates, they turn on her and her life is even more wretched. Szabo deftly stages the intense, "excitable," changeable, and threatening emotions and alliances in a closed environment seething with adolescent impulses, tears, hysterics, giggles, crushes and cruelty. Anyone who remembers being a teenaged girl will recognize them. Ignore the ill-advised jacket copy regarding J.K. Rowling (Really, NYRB??).

Abigail is a statue in the garden, reputed to bring help and comfort to those at the end of their tethers. Secret messages are left and received, dire situations resolved or mitigated. Who is Abigail, really? The silent deaconess Susanna? The flamboyant, brash former student, now a middle-aged widow who throws great parties? The handsome, Teutonic young male teacher all the girls are in love with? No one really wants to know, actually. At this point, the narrative slows to a bit of a slog through more adolescent angst, conflict, school outings and shunnings. Much eating (or refusal) of pastries occurs.

It's only when the war finally insinuates itself into the protective shell of the school that the story picks up power again. A mysterious dissident is posting anti-war messages in public places. Abigail enlists Gina in the passage of life-saving documents. Her father disappears; her old crush - a handsome young soldier - reappears to rescue her, it seems. The reader knows and sees much more than Gina does. (I had the real Abigail pegged the minute the character was introduced, while Gina is hopelessly wrong about it till the end.) This makes it sound more of a "thriller" than it is, but we've come to care for Gina and the other girls; to have some muted sympathy for the straitlaced Susanna; to look a little askance at Mr Handsome Teacher Dude, and wonder exactly where the short-tempered, bombastic director's sympathies may actually lie.

A nicely produced, smoothly translated novel that deserves the wider readership that NYRB brings it. ( )
  JulieStielstra | May 17, 2021 |
“She was oppressed by a consciousness of living in a world of strangers”

-- review soon --

Around the year in 52 books challenge notes:
#32. A book whose cover shows more than 2 people

Ultimate Popsugar reading challenge notes:
#5. A dark academia book ( )
  Linda_Louise | Jan 20, 2021 |
Magda Szabo's Abigail is excellent. I think I may love it even more than The Door. I read the recent translation by Len Rix for NYRB. Highly recommended.

If you've read Elio Vittorini's In Sicily, it's that type of WWII novel but with women coming of age. The war is secret, in a way. People have to be very circumspect about how they talk about it. The first quarter or so, Gina doesn't even know why she's going to boarding school. The moment when she learns, her instant coming of age, is rendered so powerfully. The push and pull of female friendship amid the push and pull of government propaganda has never been done better than by Szabo. ( )
  sparemethecensor | Dec 3, 2020 |
Imádtam a filmsorozatot és nem csalódtam a regényben sem. Valami mást találtam benne, más hangsúlyokat, más részleteket. ( )
  gjudit8 | Aug 3, 2020 |
This book turns out to be set in 1943-44, in between Stalingrad and the German occupation of Hungary, i.e. during a period when Hungary was still fighting on the German side against Russia, but when there was a lot of anti-war feeling in the country and the Horthy government were putting out secret feelers to the Allies. So, although it's just a boarding-school story on the surface, it's one with a lot of political undertones.

Gina, teenage daughter of a widowed senior army officer, finds herself suddenly whisked off from the cosmopolitan, quasi-adult life she's used to in Budapest to the isolation of a strict, religious boarding-school in a remote provincial town. Needless to say, she isn't happy about being locked up, deprived of her nice clothes and cosmetics, and generally treated like a little girl. She reacts by being as stroppy as she can, only to find that she's added to her troubles by alienating her classmates as well as the school authorities. And her father has important work to do, and needs to be sure that she's safe and hidden away, so it's no good trying to get the school to expel her. Fortunately, the school has a secret-helper-in-residence, who communicates with girls in trouble via a statue — universally known as Abigail — in the garden.

This is all built on the classic children's fiction plot device of children getting involved in an adult story with the best of intentions but with a completely mistaken idea of what the adult story is all about, as used dozens of times (for example) by Erich Kästner. However, unlike a Kästner story, there's nothing particularly funny about the misconception in this case, nor do we have much hope that everything is somehow going to turn out all right in the end. Szabó does give us a vivid picture of how the overconfident and rather unpleasant socialite of the opening chapter turns into a scared little girl, on her own and not knowing whom she can trust, or even which side she is supposed to be on, and finally does learn to accept the right sort of help, but it's all rather uncomfortable — too childish really to work as an adult novel, but without the sort of comfortable protecting framework we look for in a children's story.

Difficult to imagine that this was written by the same person as The door and Katalin Street. But writers have to find ways to sell books as well, I suppose, even in socialist countries... ( )
1 ääni thorold | Jul 16, 2020 |
Näyttää 1-5 (yhteensä 15) (seuraava | näytä kaikki)
ei arvosteluja | lisää arvostelu

» Lisää muita tekijöitä (10 mahdollista)

Tekijän nimiRooliTekijän tyyppiKoskeeko teosta?Tila
Magda Szabóensisijainen tekijäkaikki painoksetcalculated
Engl, GézaKääntäjämuu tekijäeräät painoksetvahvistettu
Engl, HenrietteKääntäjämuu tekijäeräät painoksetvahvistettu
Philippe, ChantalKääntäjämuu tekijäeräät painoksetvahvistettu
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A változás, ami életében bekövetkezett, annyi mindentől megfosztotta, mintha bomba pusztított volna az otthonában.
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Englanninkielinen Wikipedia

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"Of all Szabó's novels, Abigail deserves the widest readership . . . Brilliantly written" TIBOR FISCHER "Szabó is skilful at creating moments of heart-rending tension, often through exquisite, evocative prose . . . the novel has a devastating power" Spectator A teenage girl's difficult journey towards adulthood in a time of war. Of all her novels, Magda Szabó's Abigail is the most widely read in her native Hungary. Now, fifty years after it was written, it appears for the first time in English, joining Katalin Street and The Door in a loose trilogy about the impact of war on those who have to live with the consequences. It is late 1943 and Hitler, exasperated by the slowness of his Hungarian ally to act on the "Jewish question" and alarmed by the weakness on his southern flank, is preparing to occupy the country. Foreseeing this, and concerned for his daughter's safety, a Budapest father decides to send her to a boarding school away from the capital. A lively, sophisticated, somewhat spoiled teenager, she is not impressed by the reasons she is given, and when the school turns out to be a fiercely Puritanical one in a provincial city a long way from home, she rebels outright. Her superior attitude offends her new classmates and things quickly turn sour. It is the start of a long and bitter learning curve that will open her eyes to her arrogant blindness to other people's true motives and feelings. Exposed for the first time to the realities of life for those less privileged than herself, and increasingly confronted by evidence of the more sinister purposes of the war, she learns lessons about the nature of loyalty, courage, sacrifice and love. Translated from the Hungarian by Len Rix

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