Fire and Knowledge: Péter Nádas in donversation with Paul Holdengräber
"My first memory is of a dark landing of a Budapest tenement building, as we are flying toward and then smashing into a wall ablaze with cold flames. Or, perhaps it is not we who are flying but the flaming walls are falling on us. Someone is holding me as I am flying high above the stairs. Then, there are no more cold flames, no more falling, and no more up and down, just darkness, warmth, and nothingness. This memory must date from the second year of my life, from the time of the more than three-month long siege of Budapest." Péter Nádas has had a major presence in European life and letters: as a trenchant commentator on the events that have transformed his country and all of Europe since 1989, as a stunning literary critic, as a subtle interpreter of language and politics in societies both free and unfree, and as a moralist with a discerning eye for the crippling effects of deception and hypocrisy upon us all.
His new book, Fire and Knowledge: Fiction and Essays, acquaints us more fully with Nádas's evolution as a writer of fiction, for it includes stories dating from the 1960s and 1970s, when he had to write in extremely stringent, even dangerous circumstances, as well as some from more recent years, since the publication of his major novels and the reintegration of Western and Eastern Europe.
Writer, essayist, critic, and playwright Péter Nádas makes his home in Gombosszeg, a small village in western Hungary. His writings include collections of essays (Stage Set, On Heavenly and Earthly Love, Dialogue, Scrapes of Paper and other Miscellaneous Writings, Essays), novellas (Yearbook and Procession), and novels (A Book of Memories and Parallel Stories). His new book is Fire and Knowledge: Fiction and Essays.
Paul Holdengräber is the Director of Public Programs now known as "LIVE from the NYPL" for The Research Libraries of The New York Public Library.