László KrasznahorkaiHungaryWriting1998

One of the scenes of my novel “The Melancholy of Resistance” was getting back to me frequently while I was having my afternoon walks in the paradisiacal world of the avenue of trees at Civitella Ranieri and the shining sun of Umbria was setting above me. In this scene, which is played in a pub in South Hungary, the main character of the novel, a divine fool, the newspaper deliverer of the small town, uses the company of three drunk pub-crawlers, who have to symbolize the Sun, the Moon, and the Earth, to explain to the drunk audience what actually a solar eclipse is: 

Excerpt from 'The Melancholy of Resistance'

“At first, so to speak... we hardly realize the extraordinary events to which we are witness...” he began, rather quietly, and hearing his whisper, everyone immediately stopped speaking, in anticipation of the storms of laughter to come. “The brilliant light of the Sun,” his broad gesture took in the driver who ground his teeth, struggling against the sea of troubles besetting him, and extended to the hypnotically circling figure of the house-painter, “floods Earth with warmth... and light.. .the side of Earth facing it, that is.” He gently steadied the lewdly grinning representation of Earth and turned him to face the Sun, then stepped behind him, leaning on him, almost embracing him, craning over his shoulder, the intense look on his face suggesting he was merely the medium for the others - blinked at what he termed the “blinding radiance” of the unsteady driver. “We are standing in this... resplendence. Then, suddenly, we see only that the round disc of the Moon...”, here he grabbed ‘Sergei’ and propelled him from his orbit round the house painter to an intermediary position between the Sun and the Earth, "that the round disc of the Moon... creates an indentation.. .a dark indentation on the flaming body of the Sun... and this indentation keeps growing... You see?...” again, he emerged from behind the house-painter, and gave a gentle shove to the almost terminally furious but helpless warehouseman, “You see.. and soon enough, as the Moon’s cover extends.... we see nothing but this brilliant sickle of sunlight in the sky. And the next moment,” whispered Valuska in a voice choking with excitement, running his eyes to and fro along the straight line between driver, warehouseman and house painter, “let us say it’s one PM... we shall witness a most dramatic turn of events... Because... unexpectedly... within a few minutes... the air about us cools... .can you feel it? ... the sky darkens.. The frightened rabbit flattens itself against the grass! Herds of deer are startled into a mad stampede! And in this terrible and incomprehensible twilight.., even the birds (The birds!’ cried Valuska, in rapture, throwing his arms up to the sky, his ample postman’s cloak flapping open like bat’s wings)... the very birds are confused and settle on their nests! And then... silence.....And every living thing is still.., and we too, for whole minutes, are incapable of speech... Are the hills on the march? Will heaven fall in on us? Will earth open under our feet and swallow us? We cannot tell. It is a total eclipse of the sun.” He spoke these last sentences, as he had the first, in the same prophetic trance...

(Translated from the Hungarian by George Szirtes)