Tuesday, May 26, 2009

BOOK: The Rebels by Sandor Marai

The Rebels by Sandor Marai, 278 pages
translated from Hungarian

Orbis Terrarum: Hungary

The Author:
Sandor Marai is better known for his novel Embers, published in English in 2001. His other books have been gradually been translated from Hungarian, including The Rebels in 2007, originally published in 1930. He left Hungary after the communist takeover and died in San Diego in 1989.

The Plot:
It's the story of four boys on the verge of adulthood, during the first world war. They are left in the town to finish school, without the men, all off at war, and are alienated, and rebelling against the establishment before they head off to the front. There is some betrayal amongst the friends.

Things I liked:
The alienation of the young well to do boys has been around for a while, and this book didn't feel like it was written in 1930. The antics of the boys could have been from today, just they rebelled in different ways. But apparently, rich entitled kids have been getting up to no good and always feeling like they are the first invent their particular unhappiness and rebellion.
I liked the feel and atmosphere of the book in Hungary during the first war.

Things I didn't like:
That literature feel, where I wasn't always sure what was going on, in particular, the ending. Huh? Lots of testosterone and overtones of homosexuality, and no real female characters, except of dying mother of one of the boys.


  1. So, based on everything, do you recommend it?

  2. Kailana - Not for everybody. I ended up with no strong feeling, yea or nay. I liked parts, I didn't get parts. I needed the Spark notes (which aren't available) and then I would have liked it more. It felt like a school book? A Good read, but there would be lots to analyse, and I'm not always up for the analysis.

  3. Thanks for this honest review, Elizabeth. I enjoyed Embers and I've been wondering about his other books. This one sounds like I could skip it.

  4. wendy - If you liked Embers, you might like this, but I think it isn't as well reviewed as Embers. I always find it hard to say not to read a book to someone, because other people like books I don't (Coetzee)

  5. Fair enough, Elizabeth...I know how you feel - reading is a pretty subjective enterprise. I have rated Coetzee pretty high - his books are not "enjoyable" but I think they are well written and stimulate me to think a lot...


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