Prior to making The Turin Horse with Béla I wrote a book called Animalinside, and in this Animalinside there is a sentence, a picture that was very important for The Turin Horse, mainly there is a cage, which is so small that actually the cage is your skin. This is the case in The Turin Horse. In a big space there’s a cage, which is absolutely the same as your skin. That means your fate—the border of your fate—is your skin, and you haven’t a hope of finding a way out of this cage, of your skin, of your fate. This big space is not for you, this is nothing for you, this is only a possibility, which is not for you, it doesn’t exist for you. There is this big space, there is a big created world, but not for you because you gambled everything, you gambled and every possibility which you had you’ve lost, everything you’ve lost and you are now absolutely alone, and the last judgment will come, not tomorrow, the last judgment was yesterday, and you are living now after the last judgment, in your last judgment.
[...] When you want to convince somebody about something, if you speak in a way, in that way, you use only long sentences, almost always just one sentence, because you didn’t need this dot, this is not natural if you speak in this way, if I want to convince you about something, that the world is such and such, then it’s a natural process for the sentences to become always longer and longer because I needed less and less the dot, this artificial border between sentences, because I didn’t use, I don’t use, now, for example, I don’t use dots, I use only pauses, and these are commas, this is not my usual tone because I try, especially in English because of my poor English, to make pauses, and that’s why my tone goes a little bit down, but it is not a dot, what I found there, it is a comma, and in The Melancholy of Resistance, I tried again to write this perfect book, and my sentences became always a little bit more beautiful, although the content, my message, couldn’t change after Sátántangó, after my experience in life, but language did change and became more and more beautiful because the beauty in the language became always more important, so I reached a level, a point, I don’t know, perhaps in Seiobo There Below, perhaps in this book I’ve reached my maximum of this desire for beauty in the sentences.
MJC: In both El Ultimo Lobo and War & War the protagonists direct their monologues to someone who isn’t listening. There’s a disconnect between the protagonists’ altered state of wanting to say something—to be heard—and their listeners who do not listen.
LK: Because I don’t believe in dialogue. I believe only in monologues. And I believe only in the man who listens to the monologue, and I believe I can be the man who listens to your monologue the next time around. I believe only in monologues in the human world. The dialogues, in American prose, after the Second World War, to be honest, the best dialogue writers are here in the USA, but dialogue doesn’t work for me because I don’t believe in dialogues.
MJC: A lot of connections have been made here in the United States between your work and Thomas Bernhard’s. Do you feel an affinity with Bernhard? Is there a connection?
LK: He made a very deep impression, of course. My first reading of Frost, for example, and The Lime Works, these two novels were a very big experience for me. But this is Thomas Bernhard. There is a big difference between us, because I am not sentimental. Bernhard, despite everything, was sentimental. He was a big believer in greatness. That’s why he was so cynical. Because he admired the great intellectuals, he was a big admirer of art. I am not. I am an observer. That’s a big difference.