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" A book is either autobiography or a novel. "
" No one in my family wrote. And there was no real introduction. I suppose I somehow blundered into it when I was about six or seven years old. I was asked what present I would like, and, without knowing why, I responded that I would like a journal. It was a beautiful journal - so beautiful that I didn't want to sully it. "
" When we write about Auschwitz, we must know that Auschwitz, in a certain sense at least, suspended literature. One can only write a black novel about Auschwitz or - you should excuse the expression - a cheap serial, which begins in Auschwitz and is still not over. "
" If there is such a thing as freedom, then there is no fate. "
Such A Thing
" Writing changed my life. It has an existential dimension, and that's the same for every writer. Every artist has a moment of awakening, of happening upon an idea that grabs hold of you, regardless of whether you are a painter or a writer. "
" I came from two harsh dictatorships, Nazi and Stalinist. I never thought of becoming a writer as such, yet in a lucid moment, I recognised what I had to do. "
" I was interned in Auschwitz for one year. I didn't bring back anything, except for a few jokes, and that filled me with shame. Then again, I didn't know what to do with this fresh experience. For this experience was no literary awakening, no occasion for professional or artistic introspection. "
" The Holocaust survivor who knows Auschwitz through the experience of suffering observes it all from the perspective assigned to him. He keeps silent or gives interviews to the Spielberg Foundation, he accepts the compensation payments promised him after a fifty-year delay, or, if he is prominent, he makes a speech in the Swedish Academy. "
" In a democracy, you have to find a market niche, make sure a novel is 'interesting' and 'spectacular.' That may be the toughest censorship of all. "
" Modern life is organised so that you benefit at the expense of the other, and the most extreme example of that is a camp. "
" The world of fiction is a sovereign world that comes to life in the author's head and follows the rules of art, of literature. And that is the major difference that is reflected in the form of the work, in its language and its plot. An author invents every aspect of a fiction, every detail. "
" I am no historian, but Hungary is a country which has never known democracy - and by that, I mean not a democratic political system, but an organic process which has mobilised the entire country's society. In the case of Hungary, this development was blocked by the growth of the Ottoman empire in the 16th century. "
" A good autobiography is like a document: a mirror of the age on which people can 'depend.' In a novel, by contrast, it's not the facts that matter, but precisely what you add to the facts. "
" What I discovered in Auschwitz is the human condition, the end point of a great adventure, where the European traveler arrived after his two-thousand-year-old moral and cultural history. "
" I have not changed my opinion that the Holocaust is a trauma of European civilization. "
" If the world is an objective reality that exists independently of us, then humans themselves, even in their own eyes, are nothing more than objects, and their life stories merely a series of disconnected historical accidents, which they may wonder at, but which they themselves have nothing to do with. "
" It is often said of me - some intend it as a compliment, others as a complaint - that I write about a single subject: the Holocaust. I have no quarrel with that. Why shouldn't I accept, with certain qualifications, the place assigned to me on the shelves of libraries? "