The Rebels

The Rebels

An early novel from the great rediscovered Hungarian writer Sándor Márai, The Rebels is a haunting story of a group of alienated boys on the cusp of adult lifeand possibly deathduring World War I.It is the summer of 1918, and four boys approaching graduation are living in a ghost town bereft of fathers, uncles, and older brothers, who are off fighting at the front.

The boys know they will very soon be sent to join their elders, and in their final weeks of freedom they begin acting out their frustrations and fears in a series of subversive games and petty thefts.

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A group of five young men are rebelling against school, against their fathers and against their upcoming draft into the fighting for WW I. This theme comes more to the fore when they fall in with an itinerant actor who seems to be romantically interested in the boys. The on-going war is another theme most elegantly expressed by how the bodies of the dead are returned by train to the town. In the early days the trains were met by a town political committee with speeches, a womens group, religious leaders and a band playing the national anthem. Now the trains are met by two men with a donkey carry away the body.

'The Rebels', maybe his first novel, was 'rediscovered' third, according to the flyleaf. Other reviewers with more knowledge of Márai have said this is the least of his novels. What I'm finding, though, is that reading novels from authors in other countries unearths a richer understanding, at least for me. And so will the students be next year, not knowing the War's end. There are two things at play here: an allegorical look at war, and anguish of adolescent homosexuality. The old solicitor who was the last in town to go to bed each night sat in his study in a cherrywood armchair, the scarlet broadcloth of which was secured at the edges with a speckling of white enameled tacks. Several thousand butterflies lined the walls in similar glass cases, the solicitor himself having captured them with his white butterfly net and put them in a stoppered bottle of potassium cyanide. He was currently examining a row of Cabbage Whites through his magnifying glass, taking great care over the process. The solicitor had been a lepidopterist for seventy years now: you could see him in the warm seasons of each year at the edge of town, his white beard swaying, the long tails of his frock coat floating behind him as he skipped over furrowed fields holding his net aloft, chasing butterflies.

A ausência dos pais que partiram para a guerra corresponde à sua incapacidade de encontrar um lugar no mundo. Há que partir para a guerra. Os que se instalam nas suas vidas.

I ribelli sono un gruppo di giovani o meglio la banda, come amano definirsi, nell'Ungheria del 1918, che si ribellano a tutto ciò che i loro padri hanno impartito loro. Sono giovani che non amano la disciplina, la rifuggono, che vivono in un loro mondo, giovani senza mentori, senza figure che possano indicargli la via e il modo più adatto per vivere.

Denn die übliche Kompensationsethik für das Dritte Reich und jene sich daraus ergebende Poetik, die in so gut wie jeder Tatortfolge vorgeführt wird, funktioniert hier nicht: In Die jungen Rebellen sind nicht die Nazis oder andere Rechtsausleger die Kinderschänder und alle Verfolgten des Hitlerregimes automatisch die Guten, der Roman entstand 1930 und schildert eine Welt von Gestern, in der nur Erwachsene etwas zählten. Zum Sozialprofil einer k.u.k.-Kleinstadt im Hinterland, die mit dem Krieg seit vier Jahren durch Verwundetentransporte in Kontakt kommt, zählte damals auch ein jüdischer Pfandleiher, den die Gesellschaft in eine Rolle gedrängt hat, aus der er sein Kapital zu schlagen weiß; gerade beim Ausnutzen von Blößen, die sich das Bürgertum, auch in Gestalt der Söhne zu geben weiß. Doch Tibor und Abel haben keine Ahnung um wie viel tiefer sie längst in der Sch stecken, bevor der Pfandleiher, dem das nicht rechtzeitig ausgelöste Silber längst zugefallen ist, auf die Ereignisse der letzten Nacht zu sprechen kommt, die ihm noch weitere Trümpfe in die Hand gespielt haben. Es ist absolut faszinierend wie Marai dem Leser erst den vollen Ekel vor dem Geruch in dieser mit allerlei Gerümpel voll gestellten Wohnung vermittelt, um im Monolog grotesk komische Elemente mit einer tragischen Handlung zu verbinden, die als Rechtfertigung für alles herhalten soll, auch das Angebot, das der schöne Sohn des Herrn Obersten nicht ablehnen kann, da der Herr Havas ja so ein gutes Herz hat. Der Autor lässt sich bei der Entwicklung seines gesellschaftlichen Panoramas Zeit, wechselt immer wieder den Blickwinkel für bezeichnende Momente, sein alter ego Abel hat zwar sozusagen das erste Wort und den ersten Kater und am Ende einen moralischen Katzenjammer, aber der Leser sieht die Welt nicht nur durch seine Augen oder die seiner drei Altersgenossen.

The story follows a group of 17-year-old boys living in Hungary during the middle of the First World War. They are just finishing school and are imminently faced with either conscription or more-or-less forced enlistment into the army. Their fathers have been off to war for years, and one of the boy's brothers returns just before the start of the story minus an arm and with a serious case of PTSD, and joins their little gang. The actual action of the story is in the boys' transformation into compulsive thieves of things they have no use for, other than to have said that they took them. The real point to the story, as I read it, is that these boys are quite simply going crazy from the piled on stresses of the war.

Los muchachos comienzan a llevar a cabo pequeñas acciones de rebeldía que, cuando conocen a un peculiar actor que llega a la ciudad para trabajar en el teatro, comienzan a transformarse en algo más.

A vida de quem fica, dos miúdos que ainda não têm idade para lutar e que ficam praticamente abandonados, sem supervisão, livres para fazer tudo o que a sua imaginação conceber é aquilo de que fala o livro. Com a aproximação da idade adulta, o que quer que fosse que unia estes miúdos parece estar a desaparecer, o bando parece não fazer mais sentido e o destino diferente que se adivinha para cada um deles parece provocar algum desconforto, alguns segredos são desvendados e, o mais provável é que o mal que foi feito não poderá ser remediado.

Esa es la historia principal, pero cada uno de ellos en realidad se está rebelando contra sí mismo, contra lo que es, y eso es exactamente lo que resulta tan conmovedor.

Marai authored forty-six books, mostly novels, and was considered by literary critics to be one of Hungary's most influential representatives of middle class literature between the two world wars. After living for some time in Italy, Márai settled in the city of San Diego, California, in the United States. Márai's Memoir of Hungary (1944-1948) provides an interesting glimpse of post World War II Hungary under Soviet occupation. Largely forgotten outside of Hungary, his work (consisting of poems, novels, and diaries) has only been recently "rediscovered" and republished in French (starting in 1992), Polish, Catalan, Italian, English, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Czech, Danish, Icelandic, Korean, Dutch, and other languages too, and is now considered to be part of the European Twentieth Century literary canon.