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"...all they did was follow me, faster when I quickened my steps, slower when I slowed down, of course making not the slightest noise, their huge pads sinking silently into the sand; and I had long ceased to experiment with stopping, because if I did they'd stop, too, turn their snouts toward me and just watch; their look, their eyes, were the most terrifying things about them - excited, keyed-up, yet completely impassive, eyes like two pretty balls, and at the same time you could see that under their thick fur the muscles were wound up like coils, ready to spring; and not only did they not emit a sound - no yelp or growl - they didn't even pant harder /.../ anyway, it was Pista who said that this was when the dogs were most dangerous, and one should never take one's eyes off them; it didn't matter that they had been trained for any eventuality, in fact, the more rigorous their training, so the trainers had said, the more unpredictable their nervous system would become; they knew and understood everything, Kálmán reported, but were nervous wrecks, the trainers themselves feared them /.../ even within the compound they were led about on leashes, and it was impossible to befriend them; they would not accept food or candy from any one, wouldn't even sniff at it, it was as though you weren't there, they looked right through you; and if anyone tried to provoke them by kicking the fence, something that would make any other dog go crazy, they would simply bare their teeth as a warning; they were trained not to get riled up needlessly; when they made a mistake, however, they were beaten mercilessly with sticks and leather straps; if you did nothing but look into their eyes, without moving, they wouldn't know what was happening or how to react, and that's when you could see they were nervous wrecks; they might be beaten for jumping unnecessarily, but they couldn't always control themselves and they'd jump, catch their victim from behind, go straight for the nape of the neck; so they kept following me - to be more precise, after a few steps abreast of one another, it seemed I was following them; they were trotting on their sandy strip one step ahead of me; /.../ with their tails up, the dogs led the way, and if I behaved, that is to say if I didn't hurry or fall behind, if fear did not make me break into a run /.../ if in spite of all my shame and humiliation, hatred and urge to rebel, I complied with their demands, if I did not stop, run, slow down, or speed up, and was even careful not to breathe too loudly, and if I managed to suppress any gestures and emotions they might construe as obtrusive, just as they tried to curb their nervousness and, as a result, the tension of our mutual suspicion became stabilized, then, after a while, our relationship became more refined, not so threatening: I did what I was expected to do, and the dog, becoming almost indifferent to me, did what it was supposed to do /.../"
(From: A Book of Memories, tr. by I. Sanders and I. Goldstein)

"Communist Eastern Europe has not usually been seen as a subject for Proustian reflection ... But in A Book of Memories, Péter Nádas, one of Hungary's pre-eminent literary figures, has accomplished a remarkably interesting feat: he has transposed the novel of consciousness to the Socialist universe, and closed the gap between prewar modernism(inflected here by post-modern psychoanalysis) and Eastern Europe."
(The New York Times Book Review, Eva Hoffman )



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