Satantango, Paperback
3 out of 5 (1 rating)


In the darkening embers of a Communist utopia, life in a desolate Hungarian town has come to a virtual standstill.

Flies buzz, spiders weave, water drips and animals root desultorily in the barnyard of a collective farm.

But when the charismatic Irimias - long-thought dead - returns to the commune, the villagers fall under his spell.

The Devil has arrived in their midst. Irimias will divide and rule: his arrival heralds the beginning of a period of violence and greed for the villagers as he sets about swindling them out of a fortune that might allow them to escape the emptiness and futility of their existence.

He soon attains a messianic aura as he plays on the fears of the townsfolk and a series of increasingly brutal events unfold. Satantango follows the villagers as they are exploited and taken in by Irimias; as they drink and stumble their way toward the gradual realization of their mistake and ultimate demise.

In its measured prose and long, Tolstoyan sentences, Satantango is nothing short of a literary masterpiece; a formal meditation on death and avarice, human fallibility and faith.




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I picked this up purely on the strength of its intriguing title. It is a dark fable set in a hopeless backwater of communist Hungary, in which the residents are mostly hopeless drunks. The plot such as it is centres on a charismatic figure on whom the group pin their fading hopes of something better. A bleak and elliptical tale.

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