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The Door (1987)

by Magda Szabó

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,3766910,393 (4.11)131
"The Door is an unsettling exploration of the relationship between two very different women. Magda is a writer, educated, married to an academic, public-spirited, with an on-again-off-again relationship with Hungary's Communist authorities. Emerence is a peasant, illiterate, impassive, abrupt, seemingly ageless. She lives alone in a house that no one else may enter, not even her closest relatives. She is Magda's housekeeper and she has taken control over Magda's household, becoming indispensable to her. And Emerence, in her way, has come to depend on Magda. They share a kind of love--at least until Magda's long-sought success as a writer leads to a devastating revelation. Len Rix's prizewinning translation of The Door at last makes it possible for American readers to appreciate the masterwork of a major modern European writer"--… (more)
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» See also 131 mentions

English (59)  French (4)  Dutch (2)  Italian (2)  Danish (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (69)
Showing 1-5 of 59 (next | show all)
I was absolutely hooked by the intimately confessional style of this book wherin the narrator charts the course of her relationship over several years with her cleaning lady. The book is rather sad, immensely touching and yet somehow, sometimes almost comical (especially regarding Emerence's chastisement of the loyal Viola). Often whilst reading I would recognise parts of myself or of others within the story and I think this for me is what gives the book its fifth star - the ability of the author to so eloquently express our almost universal past failings, secrets and shame and our need for, if not forgiveness and absolution, then at least understanding.

( )
  nick4998 | Oct 31, 2020 |
I offer a humble, dissenting view, without wishing to overturn the court's decision entirely: 'The Door' is over-rated. Szabo certainly gives us two memorable characters, and it's surely nice to get some intelligent books by women in translation. On the other hand, as a friend pointed out, this isn't exactly technical wizardry; large portions of the book feel like they were written by someone entirely unfamiliar with the uses and problems of first-person narrative. The foreshadowing is tiresome and silly. The plot creaks along, pointing to itself at every possible opportunity. The prose* is dreary. The dialogue is stilted and manages to sound like neither actual human beings talking, nor someone creating in writing a conversation between characters.

Well, well, people don't care. They should, though, at least care about the romanticisation of poverty and the idealization of ye olde country folk.

The book is excellent on the difficulties modernisation posed (poses) for people, problems that no doubt effect Hungary even more than Western European or Anglophone countries. Another review tells me that this will be turned into a movie, and I'll gladly watch it, because this is a movie in book form, for better (vivid, character-driven, plotty) or worse (stylistically dull, often simplistic, melodramatic).


*: with the usual caveat that this might be the translator's fault. Rix's translation of Szerb's 'Journey by Midnight' was a great deal more attractive, though, so perhaps he's just accurately rendering the book's prose. Perhaps, if I'm really digging deep, the fact that the narrator is in film is meant to be mirrored in her lack of feeling for language. ( )
  stillatim | Oct 23, 2020 |
The reviews sounded interesting -- a friendship between a female writer and her head-strong, opinionated housekeeper. Set in Hungary after the Communists, Magna hired Emerence as her house-keeper. The rest of the story is the development of their complicated and mutual love and dislike for each other. Emerence is a worker and everyone in the community somehow depends on her. She does not understand anything about the importance of Magna's writing. According to Emerence, there are two people in the world: those who sweep and those that boss the sweepers. Emerence is a sweeper.

In spite of rave reviews, I really can't say I understood the relationship. Magna develops a strange sense of responsibility to Emerence and the dog "Viola" who Magna rescues but who loves Emerence. I'm supposing there is far more here than meets my eye. ( )
  maryreinert | Aug 14, 2020 |
I am a little awestruck by the elegance by which the author attacked many poignant themes about two specific women living through turbulent times, and how each contended with life and one another. Apparently this book was translated from Hungarian 30 years after it was initially published, sad that it took so long to hear other voices, wonderful that it is now occurring. ( )
  EvaJanczaruk | May 31, 2020 |
this book was torture, three stars because someone smarter than me might like it! ( )
  uncleflannery | May 16, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 59 (next | show all)
"Den fortjener å bli en bestselger."
 

"... en sjelden velskrevet, morsom og rørende bok ... "Døren" skal du lese fordi du fortjener det."
 
"... et av de mest underfundige portrett jeg noensinne har lest."
 
"Døren" er den type roman du ikke er ferdig med etter endt lesning ... noe av hemmeligheten ved at "Døren" griper så uimotståelig, er at den gjennomføres med konsekvens, uten sentimentalitet. Resten er det uhåndgripelige som kjennetegner all stor kunst."
 
"Døren" er en roman der leseren rives med fra første side. Den er et fascinerende portrett av to kvinner - historiens forteller, en forfatter, og den eldre uforglemmelige hushjelpen Emerenc, som har jobbet for henne i nærmere tjue år. Den ene lever nesten bare gjennom ordene, den andre kan knapt nok lese. Likevel knyttes de nærmere sammen enn noen av dem kunne ane. For Emerenc gir alt, enten det dreier seg om å redde en jøde, en tysker, en tyv eller en hjemløs katt. Hun tviler aldri et sekund. Men det er én ting hun ikke deler. Hun slipper aldri noen innenfor døren til sitt hjem.
 

» Add other authors (35 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Magda Szabóprimary authorall editionscalculated
Daróczi, AnikóTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Draughon, StefanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Komlósi, MártaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Paetzke, Hans-HenningTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Philippe, ChantalTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rix, LenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Thies, VeraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Ritkán álmodom.
I seldom dream
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"The Door is an unsettling exploration of the relationship between two very different women. Magda is a writer, educated, married to an academic, public-spirited, with an on-again-off-again relationship with Hungary's Communist authorities. Emerence is a peasant, illiterate, impassive, abrupt, seemingly ageless. She lives alone in a house that no one else may enter, not even her closest relatives. She is Magda's housekeeper and she has taken control over Magda's household, becoming indispensable to her. And Emerence, in her way, has come to depend on Magda. They share a kind of love--at least until Magda's long-sought success as a writer leads to a devastating revelation. Len Rix's prizewinning translation of The Door at last makes it possible for American readers to appreciate the masterwork of a major modern European writer"--

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