Originally published in Common Knowledge 11, no. 2 (Fall 2005), this essay is reprinted in 2022 as the prelude to the first installment of a project titled “Antipolitics” and dedicated to the author's memory. “To really know” what a writer “is like,” Konrád writes here, “he would have to look back on his biography from after death” — and in this piece he hauntingly does so. Explaining that he composed his first autobiography upon being expelled from university in Hungary after Stalin's death in 1953, he defines the process as “the main event in the ritual of political detention.” In an overview of the writer's life, he describes any act of writing as like scratching one's initials “into the brick of a prison wall” in an effort “to avoid dying completely.” The editors of Common Knowledge, of whose editorial board Konrád was a founding member, chose to reprint this statement at the head of a symposium whose purpose is, in no small part, to help secure his posthumous existence.

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