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10 thoughts on “Harmonia Caelestis

  1. says:

    “Fear and communists everything here begins with them and will end with them too it seems” Celestial Harmonies is a book of the earthly disharmonies and it consists of two partsThe first half of a novel is a huge list of the probable author’s fathers that could exist since the medieval epoch It is an exhaustive inventory of all possible father’s vices and sins and wrongdoingsAnd Péter Esterházy like the patent Oedipus pitilessly kills all his hypothetical fathers all down the agesThe second half is the family history proper“People uickly grow tired of the good look for something better find something worse then insist on it ever after for fear of something still worse to come” This is the rule formulated by the author’s grandfather and the family abides by this rule Celestial Harmonies is an honest and merciless full of dark sarcasm memorial to the odious eraIn the twentieth century two planetary cataclysms happened communism and fascism


  2. says:

    When my brother's knee was injured while into competitive sports naks he was operated on at the St Luke's Medical Center in uezon City On the day of his discharge from the hospital he reuested me to pick him up as he couldn't then drive by himselfI was able to immediately free myself from my other commitments that day so I drove to the hospital about an hour early Not wanting to wait too long I decided to drop by the Booksale store nearby As I entered the store the first book I saw was this Hardbound pages as smooth as a baby's skin with a borrower's card from the Floral Park Public Library but without any indication at all that somebody has borrowed used or read it beforeAt that time I was grappling with Donald Barthelme's The Dead Father It would turn out later that the very last footnote in this book by Peter Esterhazy is his Esterhazy's special thanks to the estate of Donald Barthelme for giving him permission to uote extensively from The Dead Father and his expression of admiration for Barthelme's writingAfter reading The Dead Father I didn't get to immediately read this book though I think I was sort of intimidated by its length and thickness 846 pages in fine small print Somebody smacks you in the head with this and you may get a brain concussion I thought it would be a tiring read It was not What is this book all about? Hungary has a thousand year history and among the greatest and most powerful aristocrats in this country's past were those of the Esterhazy family counting among them several princes military commanders diplomats bishops counts and patrons of the arts By the mid 20th century however the power prestige and wealth of this family were gone There was a brief communist takeover in 1919 then the second world war and the eventual Soviet rule The Esterhazys became enemies of the people and succumbed to dispossession resettlement and impoverishmentThe author's father was born into great wealth and privilege in 1919 But by the time the author himself was born in 1950 the family was already forced to share a house with another family and the author's father was earning very little doing one menial work after another One of his four children even died while still a baby for lack of good nutrition and proper medical careA harrowing riches to rags theme supposedly But it was no tear jerker This is a novel of great MELANCHOLIC GAIETYDivided into two parts Book 1 has 371 paragraphs of different lengths from the very very short to the very very long These paragraphs are all about fathers or almost all if I missed some which have nothing to do with fathers the author's father his father's father all the other Esterhazy fathers past and present some non Esterhazy fathers paragraph 139 is even about fathers in Philippines so Pinoy fathers And these are fathers of all kinds good fathers bad fathers heroic fathers fathers who abuse their children intelligent fathers stupid fathers weird fathers Barthelme's Dead Father etcBook 2 is also numbered from 1 to 201 but each of the numbers often have two or paragraphs constituting a mini story Here we find the story of the downfall of the Esterhazy family who had lost everything their vast tracks of land their servants their palaces and money except their values dignity love of life and in the case of the author at least their sense of humorWhy Celestial Harmonies? Let me hazard a guess The term celestial harmonies was used tongue in cheek around at least 3 times in the book as far as I remember But the real reason could be this there is a collage of many different fathers here and a ton of literary allusions heavy borrowings of phrases and indirect uotes from works of authors like Barthelme Samuel Beckett Saul Bellow Yasunari Kawabata John Updike Nabokov James Joyce Frank McCourt Henry Miller Kenzaburo Oe George Orwell Franz Kafka etc Great works and voices towering above us all Celestial Esterhazy found harmonies in all of them So Celestial HarmoniesBut that's just my opinionI have several favorite paragraphs Esterhazy I dunno call them sentences here But let me uote here paragraph 189 from Book 1 Notice the biblical allusion Moses' land flowing with milk and honey Notice the sad theme of a father uarelling with the mother Then notice the humorMy father was about to strike my mother something that need we add was nothing out of the ordinary but then he just shook her head instead presumably like Christ the shoemaker and stormed out to the kitchen He paced up and down huffing and puffing abusing my mother under his breath who my mother had just made a general comment regarding the sadness she felt with respect to her life Not a reproach or accusation just the realization of complete failure which is a reproach and accusation My father ripped open the refrigerator door three milks one in a bottle two in plastic bags He slammed the bottle to the floor the milk suirting all over the place In the meantime he was already tearing at the plastic bag with his teeth forcing the milk out which suirted in his face fuck He fucked it down and trampled it underfoot along with the third bag The kitchen was awash in the sueaking milk He took the honey from the cupboard one tube and one bottle The bottle as a matter of custom we might say bang to the floor and meanwhile he was forcing the liuid gold from the tube Drip and stick everywhere It'd have been good had my mother sneaked uietly cautiously out to the kitchen and watched him rage for a while whirling round shirttail hanging out of his pants everything about him tentative his gestures his grimaces his sentiments and then she too could have joined him trampling into the new sweet terrain that was the kitchen into the guck and she could have embraced him whispering you youyou land of milk and honey Instead my father stormed into the living room pulled my mother off the sofa she was huddled there torn between tears and dry eyes and as he shoved her toward the kitchen he shouted You are going off to the land flowing with milk and honey but I will not go up in the midst of thee for thou art a stiff necked people lest I consume thee in the wayPeter Esterhazy wrote this book in his native language and it was translated to English by Judith Sollosy who wrote a short introduction to it in April 2003 for its publication in the United States ending with this statementI can't help thinking that when the Good Lord created the world in six days and took off for the Bahamas on the seventh he made a bad mistake And he knows it And once in a while in His infinite boredom He looks down on us feels sorry for our plight and He sends us a Shakespeare or a Mozart or a book like 'Celestial Harmonies'And to think I bought this treasure at the Booksale for only Php14500


  3. says:

    Celestial Harmonies 1990 All the world’s a stage art and pageantry in the Renaissance and baroueEspecially in its first part reading Celestial Harmonies is like reading snippets from the life of demi gods up there in Mount Olympus The first person fragmented narrative goes anywhere you don’t know what the narrator will tell you next It could be the chandelier the contents of the treasure drawer how much does the king father loves his mother or his mistress how the king father searches for his God how does the father compare to God etc There are some bright and shining amusing and amazing portions but there are also those that a mortal reader like me does not know anything about and just made me feel clueless or even bored Wiki helped once in a while but there are just some parts that only maybe Hungarian readers know or can appreciate The book is thick 880 pages and heavy first class glossy paper with hardbound cover Reading it for straight two whole days last weekend should have been an agony for my rheumatic hands but I persisted Reason? I could not help but read because the life of this former Austro Hungarian monarchy the Ezterhazys was just amazingly interesting It is like being there and watching how a royal popular and respected European family fell down from their Mt Olympus with even a member dying along the way because they were so poor However this book is not a tearjerker The narration is strange I think Peter Esterhazy born 1950 a scion of the family who is now a mathematician novelist and a freelance writer did not write this novel to solicit sympathy For me this book just wants to show us how anybody who are rich and famous now could one day find themselves as poor as rats in the gutters But Esterhazy did not at least in this book compare his father with the biblical character Job although his father has deep faith in God and that this faith permeates as the underlying theme of this book Esterhazy also did not put blame on anybody or anything in particular that led to his family’s downfall He just tells the story just how it happened but he did not write it like a history book but metaphorically in a magical realism kind of way If a book has a gender this is definitely a very manly book It centers on fathers Esterhazy used the word father not only in reference to God the father and his biological king father but also his grandfather or the father’s grandfather uncles older brothers or any father for that matter Particularly in the first part of the book readers must decipher whose the father being referred to in some of the portions It did not put me off because of Esterhazy’s brilliant play of words; you just interpret his words for yourself Suit it in any way you want the outcome is still fascinating if not outright amazing especially when in the end the fragmented narrations fall into their right pieces of the Esterhazy’s long and arduous history as a familyThe second part provides a focused approach as it details the occupation of Hungary by communist followed by World War II and the eventual takeover of the Soviet Union So when you finally close the book the anchored and definitive second half seems to be enhanced by the fragments of the first part It like when you clean your leather shoes If you just brush it without applying shoe polish it feels like that when you are reading the second part But as afterthought if you apply some shoe polish the shoes shine brighter But Esterhazy’s style makes it unbelievably interesting because of the seuence the shine comes first before the shoes For me this speaks well of how bright a novelist Esterhazy is


  4. says:

    Hungarians are sexy motherfuckers I have never read heartbreak and hilarity in a single work


  5. says:

    Esse livro foi o ue escolhi para representar a Hungria na Volta ao Mundo em LivrosOs Esterházys foram nobres húngaros importantes condes diplomatas guerreiros políticos O seu palácio era conhecido como a Versalhes húngara Eles são para os húngaros algo como os Kennedys os Rotschilds e os Rockefellers tudo em uma só família segundo o próprio autor Fora do país são muito conhecidos como os patronos de Haydn Durante o comunismo perderam tudo Péter Esterházy se voltou então à história de sua família para escrever o seu último romance Celestial HarmoniesMas como ele é o Esterházy ele não tem interesse em fazer um história linear Ele começa o livro com as “Numbered Sentences from the Lives of the Esterházy Family” centenas de anedotas numeradas todas sobre o mesmo personagem “meu pai” Usando apenas esse nome ele conta histórias de família sobre os Esterházy heróicos e os traidores sobre suas relações com príncipes e imperadores turcos prisioneiros de guerra auele ue matou a mulher para herdar sua fortuna o ue teve um ataue de gases em frente a tsarina Catarina ela teria respondido “enfim um som sincero” o ue recebeu os russos ue ele chamava de bárbaros no seu palácio Outros “meus pais” são tirados de romances famosos são figuras míticas são paródias de Nabokov Gombrowicz Joyce Musil Sófocles Calvino e dezenas de outros Um é um dublê de corpo da Lady Di um é o gato de Schröndiger “11 – I once had a distant fascinating and intriguing father – let’s call my father by this name around whose crib there danced the last moon rays of the old century and the first shimmering light of a new dawn – the Evening Star the Morning Star the Star of the Even Morn That’s where our name comes from“ “15 For fifty fillérs my father would eat a fly for one florint you could take a picture of the cadaver in his tongue for five florints and an apple Starking he’d bite a mouse in two He never worked with outsourced mice he liked to catch his own” “31 My father was a great warrior an enemy commander who had no peer in duel or warfare No peer in warfare et cetera I know My mother Prince Rákóczi had great affection for him as once he had slaughtered forty two of the enemy in front of his very eyes When the Prince was told that my father was planning to betray him he refused to believe itBut he had to because it was my mother who had denounced him after he’d told her about his plan My father ended up in front of a military tribunal and the tribunal sentenced him to death for high treason My mother didn’t shed a tear ” “132 In the Eighteenth Century my father did away with religion in the nineteenth century he did away with god in the twentieth century he did away with man“ “152 My father the man without ualities slept with his older sister Fuck it him her” “210 My father a horse has four legs and it still trips up In the same way the Danube has two banks but they shot the Jews into it just the same“ “237 Is my father capable of creating a boulder so large that he himself could not raise it?” “266 They found a clearing and gun in hand the two parties positioned themselves about thirty paces’ distance from each other in keeping with the custom of fighting a duel that many Hungarian writers and pratically every Hungarian writer of aristocratic origin have described in detail I had an argument with a Stranger father It was nothing really I slapped him and then he killed me in a duel near Kalugano Please forgive me my father wrote my grandfather in his last letter” “274 My father is just like Piero della Francesca’s father metaphorical” A segunda parte se chama “Confessions of an Esterházy family” em alusão às Confissões de um Burguês de Sándor Márai Essa parte é mais linear e foca em eventos importantes da vida do autor seu pai avô e bisavô principalmente durante o comunismo Essa parte pode ser descrita como o declínio de uma família – afinal o autor disse uma vez ue toda história de família depois de Thomas Mann é influenciada pelos BuddenbrookEsse romance foi publicado em 2001 mas não era cedo demais para dizer ue é um dos maiores do século XXI


  6. says:

    An astonishing torue of history memory and language


  7. says:

    The Esterházy family is one of the most ancient noble dynasties of Hungary Their origins date back almost to the foundation of Hungary as an independent state in AD 1000 The family’s history is inextricably intertwined with the history of both Hungary and the Austro Hungarian Empire This than 800 page tome consists of two books simply called the 1st and the 2nd book and provides the reader with insights into a deep reservoir of family tradition and memoriesIn Book 1 Péter Esterházy shares anecdotes about the rich and often piuant history of his predecessors The author zigzags in time without respecting any chronological order In one chapter the Esterházys fight against the Habsburg during one of the Hungarian independence wars just so that the following chapter can find them as close and loyal allies to the Kaiser Any chapter may depict the Esterházys fighting against the invading Turks with the same probability as describe how they had fun by composing music or flirting within their aristocratic circles Some of the 371 chapters are limited to a few sentences while others amount to short novellas I could identify only two common orientation points through this labyrinth of anecdotes First each chapter is written from the perspective of the author's daddy ’My daddy’ Great great grandfathers or other ancient relatives of the author can eually manifest as 'my daddy' 'My daddy' can also take the persona of a character from a given era including modern times who is unlikely to ever had connection with the Esterházys Second and this is a most remarkable thing about this book the mood constantly swings between hilarity and complete heartbreak Or it does not even swing but conjures both sentiments simultaneously While reading the sometimes bizarre chapters I often had to smile just to become morose a very few sentences later And then repeated the same again and againBook 2 is a family history about the recent but certainly not less turbulent events of the 20th century The 20th century in Hungary meant the loss of WW1 along with the collapse and disintegration of the Austro Hungarian Empire a uick period of red terror in 1919 followed by a revisionist government the loss a WW2 as a satellite state to Nazi Germany and then communism socialism as a satellite state to the Soviet Union From the dynastical perspectives of the aristocratic Esterházys it would be difficult to envision a disruptive century The author writes about his childhood memories living through atrocities and enmities orchestrated against his blue blooded parents The Esterházys were the ideal targets and scapegoats to communist propaganda Or perhaps not that perfect They were aristocratic enough to be punished admirably but also too much ingrained in the country’s history like living memorials for the communist party to dare to exterminate themThis book is about many things First and foremost it’s about family and it's a hymn to a delicate and sensitive father son relationship It's about religion and the individual’s identity vis à vis God It shows history through the eyes of high aristocracy their fight against losing anchors of identity and their slide into depression and self destruction Love and intimacy are recurring topics just as the enormous suffering brought forward by Nazism communism anti Semitism It's beautifully written and Esterházy not only writes but plays and jokes with the words caveat I read it in Hungarian my mother tongue no idea how his playful use of words translates into other languages The bittersweet satirical tone is masterful And this is one of those books where despite my 5 star rating I can readily understand 1 star 2 star ratings by fellow readers It’s certainly not everybody’s cup of tea


  8. says:

    This review needs some context Péter Esterházy was born in 1950 in Budapest to one of the most notable noble families of former Austro Hungarian monarchy This novel is divided in two parts the first one is a collection of sentences about Esterházy men since the formal foundation of the family around the end of the 16th century while the second part has a structure similar to that of a novel and tells the story of Péter himself his father and his grandfather I chose this book because I love reading about large families but I was somewhat disappointed with Celestial Harmonies If you are like me and don't know a thing about Hungarian history Wikipedia'll come in handy It has also an article about the Esterházy family that'll prove useful to have a clear family tree This didn't make it an easy read The writing didn't help either While the style is flowing precise intelligent and a little demanding of the reader it is too experimental for my taste Sorry but I can't bear reading page after page of descriptions of family heirlooms I thought it would pay back somehow but it didn't The author talks about some of them all around the book but that infamous list doesn't enhance the reader's experience in any way This book was way too long so long that I was weary before I had finished itHowever I liked some things about the book I liked the rythm created by the repetition of 'my father' or 'my dear father' in the first part and reading about how the most recent Hungarian history affected the Esterházys especially about Hungary supporting nazis and then the Soviet republic I would recommend to anyone who wants to read this book to think of it as a colossal monument to the Esterházy family instead of a novel I don't mean this is necessarily a bad book I would say it is beautiful as a sculpture is I guess this wasn't the right book for me since this isn't what I expect of novels


  9. says:

    view spoiler Bettie's Books hide spoiler


  10. says:

    My word that was a chore 841 pages of literary fanciness jumpy storytelling and unsympathetic family issues I have no idea why this book was written the way it was I'm not a fan of innovative methods and zany structures I like a good story I can get my teeth into and that never happens throughout the length of this book The first section consists of numbered paragraphs mostly short but sometimes 3 4 pages in length all about my father But My Father may be an Esterhazy of any generation from the dark ages to the modern day he's probably being messed around by some wanton woman and he may or may not be a nobleman depending on the era Just occasionally I hit a hypnotic kind of rhythm with this section but generally it was arduous and unforgiving I almost gave up multiple timesThe second half follows a linear story focussing in on the modern day history of the family their fall from grace as communism takes over and their potential hand in it's downfall Thankfully this half is a lot accessible but the Esterhazy's are never particularly likeable I'm not sure how much of the story is true and how much is literary invention I know very little about the nobility of Hungary but mansurely there is an amazing story to be told about a family with such endurance But this book felt like the band The Dirty Projectors If you consider yourself a fan of a certain kind of music you're supposed to love them But really the music is disjointed spiky cold and while technically proficient could really do with just finding a good tune I feel exactly the same way about this book as I do about them Eurgh


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Harmonia Caelestis „Harmonia Caelestis este o opera care te provoaca si te emotioneaza un roman anti epic scris intr un mod nu tocmai traditional ce poarta marca indubitabila a lui Peter Esterhazy Istorie de familie subiectiva si dramatica dar si istorie a Ungariei a Europei Harmonia Caelestis este un impresionant poem epic dominat de figura Tatalui Un Tata multiplicat insa in mii de ipostaze caci nu doar tatal autorului este evocat aici ci toti barbatii vechii familii aristocratice maghiare al carei descendent este Peter Esterhazy O tulburatoare meditatie pe tema paternitatii si a relatiilor dintre tati si fii Harmonia caelestis este si un stralucit exemplu de pastisa post moderna traversata de ecouri intertextuale generate de o «bulimie» literara remarcabila“ Carmen Musat„In Harmonia Caelestis Peter Esterhazy se misca fara probleme cu maxima degajare printre figurile reale si imaginare alearga dintr o tara in alta dintr o regiune in alta dintr un secol in altul deconstruieste si reconstruieste totul inclusiv cadrul cronologiei apoi aduce totul si il inghesuie intr un sac fara fund Istoria familiei se contopeste cu istoria natiunii ungare pana si in valentele ei psihologice In fata fiului intotdeauna merge un tata la fel cum in fata cetateanului este prezent statul Este absolut indiferent cati copii si nepoti o sa aiba fiul o parte din el ramane fiu pentru totdeauna“ Anamaria Pop