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Ieri by Agota Kristof

Ieri (original 1969; edition 2002)

by Agota Kristof (Author), M. Lodoli (Traduttore)

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1737108,523 (3.89)1
Son of a whore and the local schoolmaster, Tobias flees the pressures of his village to the soothing anonymity of town life and a job at the factory. But his carefully constructed world is shattered when Line, his childhood love, appears on the scene.
Authors:Agota Kristof (Author)
Other authors:M. Lodoli (Traduttore)
Info:Einaudi (2002), 96 pages
Collections:Your library

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Yesterday by Ágota Kristóf (1969)


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English (5)  Italian (2)  All languages (7)
Showing 5 of 5
Nella mente vive ieri;
nel cuore è già domani.
Per il corpo la gabbia del presente. ( )
  cry6379 | Sep 17, 2017 |

First it is a fantasy, brutal but fun, about a couple of lies and a boy named Tobias Horvath who changes his name to Sandor Lestor because of something terrible he thinks he has done back in his country of origin. A couple noteworthy events for me early on were that Sandor does not much like babies period, and he is tired of sex for fun. He wants only the woman he loves named Line, who just so happens to also be his half sister. But unsurprisingly she is not available and hasn't anyway any idea of their familial relationship. Line simply remembers their time together as young students in the same class. Sandor also almost desperately wants to be a famous writer and upon his certain success return to his original name of Tobias Horvath. But, no doubt, this is a sad story about resorting to an un-resortful life. It is a fantasy about love and failure, of whether being rich or poor is remarkable enough, or even if acquiring an education really matters. So almost anything I might have to say about this book would spoil the already too-short read which I have to say I really loved. But allow me a different tack.

It is hard to know how near to death, or what scrapes the common lad has had with the grim reaper, but what I do know is the awful dread and sick feeling that comes with being in the face of it. Of course, my brush with darkness can easily be discounted by those having had a real consequence. But let me tell you, it was the very first time in sixty plus years of living that in a fitful dream I died, and I didn't like it. Not one bit. All the countless times I have come near to dying in my dreams I have awakened with a start, relieved that I escaped that finality, an ending for me that felt so real and certain one day to come. For years I have held to my theory that when that moment came in the dream, when I saw or experienced my own dying, the actual end would come for me as well. But here I am, still kicking, and none the worse perhaps for the wear. But all day this frightful dream has stuck with me, gnawing at me, needling me in dreadful ways. Not one moment has passed today that I am feeling both grateful to still be alive and somehow aghast at how quickly my end might actually arrive. But because my dream-death was due to an accident, a mistake on my part, of me not following my gut when I knew damn-well better, something that has become a sort of trend for me it seems these days, it is that I also feel guilty and ashamed. It has been the strangest experience for me living every minute today with the feeling of my own death as if it really happened. And it weighs heavily on me as well for all the many times throughout my life as a carpenter, traveler, drug and alcohol abuser, promiscuous adventurer, outdoorsman, and general sinner that I have escaped serious injury because of my carelessness or ignorance in my denying a dangerous situation. I imagine it must be that immature feeling for thinking one is immortal.

The dream began as a simple hike through the woods accompanied by my youngest adult son. If others were with us I do not recall. I remember hiking on what might resemble a wooded ski trail, sort of like the trails cut out of the woods for cross-country skiing, but it wasn't winter, and there was no snow this time of year, but I could see the approaching hill being such that we would be attempting a climb of stunning proportions. I also knew we were hiking backwards on the trail, as nobody would ever climb this particular hill on snow skis. It was definitely meant to ski down on and not climb. I even found it a bit unbelievable that anyone could actually successfully ski down it and not be killed. But here I was climbing this enormously steep hill with my almost thirty year-old son. The entire trail was loose, grainy sand and it was very difficult to get a proper footing and make any headway considered plausible. In this dream I was physically crippled a bit just as I am in real life due to a fall from my cabin roof three years ago. My knee was not surgically repaired for such athletic activity as this particular hike and climb, and it has not the strength other knees have, and in addition, no lateral movement at all. It is insane to think I would even have attempted a climb like this outside of a dream. And I remember thinking these thoughts in the course of events throughout my dream. Ultimately it became impossible for me to continue trudging uphill and I remember thinking, and perhaps saying aloud, that there would absolutely be no way to climb this hill in winter when ice or snow was covering it. We returned home, wherever that was, and consulted an acquaintance or friend there who suggested we take what amounted to a sled ride down the same steep hill for the reason I suppose to familiarize ourselves over what we may have missed from not conquering it from climbing up from the bottom.

Now it was winter, or the surface at least had been prepared to slide belly first along the track of ice. At first the downhill ride was enjoyable, slowly gaining speed and feeling the snow scraping against my clothes just as I did in the old days as a small child. But then the speed increased to such degrees that I began to get nervous and feel I was losing control of my sled. My son was also belly-first sliding ahead of me and seemed to be holding his own. I panicked a bit and for a moment froze in my thinking over what I might do to get myself back on track. Rounding another curve hell-bent for speed and preparing to head down what I thought to be the worst part, my body, almost spontaneously, left the track and flew off the side of a steep cliff. Next thing I knew I was preparing for another ride, realizing my previous mistake, more than confounded by how I did not die from the previous great fall, knowing this time that to successfully maneuver my way down I would have to wrap my arms around what now appeared in my dream as a track raised slightly above the surface of the snow. I held on for dear life as it reminded me of a roller coaster ride, which I hate, and successfully, almost naturally, I made my way to the bottom of the hill without incident. It was then, at the bottom of the hill, that I knew something was not right. All of our gathered crowd was looking at each other in a very strange way and my stomach knew something critical was missing and it felt like it might be me. Intuitively I was impelled to ask them if it were I who was really dead? They all nodded solemnly in agreement. My wife was present, standing there and looking at me lovingly. It was obvious my son could still see me clearly, but soon I noticed that for him my form was beginning to fade. My wife could still see me clearly but we both knew I would never be physically in our lives again. I had become a mere spectator of life. I remember having this dire sense of extreme responsibility to watch over and protect both my wife and son but I did not know how I would be able to do so without a body, with no hands, and a now-fading voice.

It seemed we all were gathered together in a room for some time. The group was conversing pretty much as nothing had happened, at least it was obvious to me that life had gone on without me. What struck me the most in my feeling of shock at being a dead man surrounded by the living was how much my wife actually did seem to love me. She wasn't sobbing or sad I was gone, but still she was treating me as if I was much a part of her life as I always had been, but with the knowledge that though she could still see me she would never know me again physically. Of course I began to wonder about the other men in the world who would find her attractive and begin flirting or courting her and offering her attentions that I no longer could provide. Almost immediately in my dream a certain man I cannot recall the name or what he looked like did indeed hit on her and she promptly refused his advances. But I knew in my heart while considering my dilemma as a harmless spirit that one day she would be vulnerable to an advance. At some point in her life she would need someone, and the right man might speak to her in the proper setting and win her heart that I knew would be lonely and aching for something besides her constant aloneness. I reasoned that at that point my spirit life would most likely end.

Within minutes of my realization that I was dead, and the acknowledgment of all present that indeed I was, I felt my son, unlike his mother, quickly losing his connection to me. He could not see me as clearly as I knew my wife still did. At the instant the stranger was hitting on my wife my son was beginning to leave with another group of men that I remember as having a very strong personality for a leader. The new gang leader reminded me of the actor Gary Oldman still playing the scary and dangerous character he has portrayed often in films such as True Romance. I wanted to warn my son that he was beginning to go down a very dangerous and slippery path by following this sick man and whatever scheme he had talked my son into participating in. This group was heading away on this mission when I left my wife and her persistent suitor to follow behind my son and somehow devise a way in which to protect him. Every step for me seemed to portend a bad ending for the adult child I had loved so much and cared so deeply for.

The attitude prevailed within this group of criminals that they were on a job that was supposedly a sure thing. A piece of cake. I watched them as they approached a very nice home and were preparing to enter it illegally. A break-in to steal valuables was all I could think of. I just knew this was a murderous setup, that something terrible was about to happen concerning guns and other violent weapons. Here my son, in his own way, was going to make a mistake similar to what his father had done and his life could very well end or certainly be altered in ways unimaginable to me. The dread of this portending danger was killing me again. It was then I awoke from the nightmare of my life.

There was much for me to consider in my dream. I cannot say I enjoyed myself. I am certain I would rather read about it happening to someone other than myself. ( )
  MSarki | Jan 24, 2015 |
Her extraordinary rich language: in its simplicity it gives so much by opening the space between the words. - The terrible power of love; the tristesse in the inexorable passing of time:
« Hier tout était plus beau, la musique dans mes cheveux et dans tes mains tendues le soleil »
« Va là ou les gens sont heureux car ils ne connaissent pas l’amour. […] Le soir ils ferment leurs portes à double touret attendent avec patience que passe la vie. »
« - Alors, va sur la montagne, dit l’oiseau, et laisse-moi mourir. Je ne peux supporter ta tristesse. Tristesse des gestes, des chutes d’eau couleur de cendre, tristesse de l’aube marchant le long des champs boueux. »
A wonderful book. (VIII/IX-11) ***** ( )
1 vote MeisterPfriem | Oct 14, 2011 |
Libro essenziale come sempre in Agota Kristof. L’ho letto tutto di un fiato ed ancora una volta in piu’ ho apprezzato lo stile asciutto e lapidario di questa scrittrice, che descrive senza dare giudizi ma ti incolla alle pagine . E’ un libro su una condizione di disagio che sfocia in due ossessioni : l'amore per una donna immaginaria, e la scrittura , vista come necessita’ e forse riscatto.

Ho trovato molto pertinente la scelta della foto di copertina, un’ immagine che esprime lo stesso senso di straniamento del libro . E’ la sagoma di un uomo, di spalle, e davanti a lui una distesa grigia, mare o deserto non si sa L’uomo ha le mani in tasca e non si capisce cosa faccia, se guardi il mare o se si stai incamminando .

Bel libro : duro e diretto.

( )
  mara4m | Jun 8, 2011 |
December 14, 2000
I'm used to divide good books in two categories: the first category includes nice books that are well written, with an interesting texture; they provide the reader with all the details leaving no space to my fantasy and my imagination. The second category of books put my mind in a new dimension, they help me to discover new ideas and emotions. "Yesterday" from Agota Kristof belongs to that category, it is written in a very essential way, with the minimal set of words, not a single paragraph can be removed, neither a single word without destroying the balance of the page. If you consider reading a book a different experience than watching a movie, this book is for you. The few words of "Yesterday" can make you discover new sensations, new emotions, and unknown places of your mind. In my opinion, it's definitively a very good book. ( )
1 vote folini | Sep 2, 2009 |
Showing 5 of 5
O exilio, o desarraigo e a vida de autómata dun obreiro industrial aparecen esbozados nesta narración concisa, fría e transparente, a través do relato do protagonista, ora Sandor ora Tobías. O amor incestuoso pola súa medio irmá e a escritura nunha lingua que non é a propia son a súa única salvación nunha realidade gris, nunha vida de mentiras e de renuncia.
Cun estilo austero e sen verniz, entrecortado por pasaxes simbólicos e delirantes froito da mente do seu personaxe principal, a autora preséntanos un mundo no que o mañá é incerto, no que só persiste o vivido onte, o peso do pasado.
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Lodoli, MarcoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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