Krasnahorkai’s “The Last Wolf”

The Last Wolf is not the back of the book, although when I read the book it was the back of the book because I started with the side Herman: The Game Warden | The Death of a Craft. The latter had complete sentences, with periods.

The covers of a recent release from the Hungarian author Lázló Krasnahorkai.
A mysterious book with two covers and no back.

The former was a sprawling 75-page narrative with a semicolon and an ellipsis, the basis of some kind of break in the text being, but mainly being a personal anecdote in which our narrator explains, remorsefully and perhaps sheepishly, how he came to Extramaduro after being invited by a foundation, the name of which I cannot recall, but I am doubtful that it was actually stated, because he was a philosopher at one time—an erstwhile philosopher, if you will—but now he was just a man who spent days in the Sparswein on the Haupstrasse in Berlin speaking to the Hungarian barman, who negligently hosted him while attending to all of the things that a barman does in a place blasting Turkish pop music …

A somewhat frightening image in black and white of the Hungarian writer Lázló Krasnahorkai
The author Lázló Krasnahorkai

Herman was a fastidious game warden, “retiring” in a part of a forest where carte blanche was his to return this area to something resembling a tractable forrest. Herman becomes a hermit wholly given to his task. The task bear an almost religious meaning for him. But in liberating this area of “noxious predators,” which means feral dogs and cats and foxes, he experiences an eventual crisis of conscience in the sight of the dead bodies of these animals.
Hijinks ensue.
The content of the narrative aside, Krasnahorkei employs not infrequent quotations that are somewhat expertly plied. The way that I have used a quotation above “is not a good example” of this, but this sentence is. Imagine that effect. Or else read the book. In my journal I wrote that the quotations have the same effect as the television in White Noise, but I do not think that is true. They do provide the narrative with a strange sort of secondary dimension, for they stand out quite obtrusively. One wonders who speaks these quotations and why they are so presented.

Yet the “Death of the Craft,” which is a “second version” of Herman’s story comes at the account from a quite different perspective. Namely, the perspective of a group of libertines who happen upon the small Dorf where Herman’s exploits are in media res. Yet here the problem is that the narrator is with a small group that is alternatively a much larger group. The three people constituting this libertine team end up being at various instances many other people.

In the last few pages (of The Last Wolf) the narrator turns out to be a quite extraordinarily sized person, perhaps even a giant, although this detail appears only on a single page, and that in the unfolding of the story about the “proverbial” last wolf.
The ending is elegant and somewhat obvious.