CRF Blog

Fierce Devotions

by Bill Hayes

In Fierce Devotions for the New York Times Book Review, Claire Messud reviews The Door by Magda Szabo.

Magda Szabo, who died in 2007, was one of Hungary’s most important 20th-century writers. Not that most of us Anglophones would know it, as very little of her work has been translated into English. “The Door,” her best-known novel, which appeared in Hungary in 1987, was initially translated by Stefan Draughon and brought out here by an academic publisher in 1995. Subsequently translated into French, the book won the Prix Femina Étranger in 2003 and was beautifully retranslated by Len Rix for British publication in 2005. A decade later, New York Review Books Classics — acting, yet again, in its capacity as the Savior of Lost Greats — has now delivered this version to an American audience.

If you’ve felt that you’re reasonably familiar with the literary landscape, “The Door” will prompt you to reconsider. It’s astonishing that this masterpiece should have been essentially unknown to English-language readers for so long …. [more]