Frigyes Karinthy


And at sunset on the third day, He stepped out of the narrow opening of the vault, and started quietly down the road! On either side of the road were gutted ruins from which smoke was rising. Sprawled on the bottom of the dry ditch He found the first of those who outside the house of Pilate had shouted the name of Barabbas: with blackened tongue, the man was howling at the ruddy clouds.

He stopped in front of the man, and softly said:

“I am here.”

And the man looked up at Him, and broke into sobs.

“Rabbi! Rabbi!” he cried, weeping.

And gently the Master went on to say:

“Cry not. Arise and come with me. For I will now go back to Jerusalem, and go to the house of Pilate, and I will ask a new law upon myself and upon you who chose Barabbas and unto whom Barabbas hath done these things.”

And the wretch rose to his feet, and he clutched at His garment.

Master!” he cried, choking with tears. “O Master, I am coming. Tell me how I shall save myself! Tell me what I am to do! Tell me what I am to say!”

“Say thou nothing,” He said gently, “but what thou shouldst have said three days ago when Pilate came out upon his porch and asked you, ‘Which of the twain will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas, the murderer, or the Nazarene?’ ”

“Oh, fool that I am!” cried the wretch, beating his head with his fists. “Oh, what a fool I was to cry Barabbas! Barabbas, who hath reduced me to such plight!”

“It is well,” the Master continued kindly. “Come thou with me to the house of Pilate; and mind thou nothing and heed none but me, and when I make a sign, cry out whole-heartedly and with all thy breath, ‘The Nazarene!’ as if thou criedst ‘My life.”’

So the man followed Him.

And on their way they found another unhappy creature, from whom Barabbas had taken away his house, his wife and his child, and whose eyes he had caused to be put out.

And gently He touched the man’s brow with His hand, and said:

“I am here. Come with me to Jerusalem, and when I shall touch thee with my hand, cry thou ‘The Nazarene!’ as if thou criedst ‘Give me my house, my child, my sight!”’

Now the man burst into tears, and followed Him.

And they found yet another man, and this man had his hands and feet tied with a rope which was slung around his neck. This man Barabbas had thrust, face downward, into a putrid swamp, among lice and reptiles.

And He went up to him, and undid his bonds, and said unto him:

“I know thee. Thou wast a poet, and thou wouldst proclaim the rapturous soaring of the spirit. Come with me, and when I make a sign, cry out, saying ‘The Nazarene!’ as if thou criedst, ‘Let there be freedom of the Spirit and of Thought!”’

Now the man kissed His sandals, and did but plead with his eyes, for this mouth was yet filled with mud.

And they proceeded on their way, and more and more that were maimed and crippled and halt, as well as miserable lepers, joined them as they went—people whom Barabbas had ruined. And each of them, severally, beat his breast and wept, and beseeched Him to make a sign for them when they were to cry ‘The Nazarene !’ as if they cried ‘Let there be peace ! Peace upon earth !’

And at nightfall they came to Jerusalem, and came to the house of Pilate.

Pilate was seated on his porch, and was supping in the company of Barabbas, the murderer.

There they sat, fat men with shining faces, drinking heavy wines and eating dainty meat from golden dishes; their scarlet robes shone far and wide.

And the Nazarene, at the head of the multitude which followed Him, went up to the porch, and, raising His transfixed hands, gently began to speak, saying:

“The feast of the passover is not yet ended, oh Pilate. It is the custom and the law that at the passover thou release unto the people a prisoner whom they will. The people wanted Barabbas, and I was crucified. Yet I have had to rise from the dead, for I saw that the people knew not what they were doing. Now this multitude behind me have known Barabbas, and they now want a new law. Therefore shouldst thou ask them anew, as is written in our books of law.”

And Pilate reflected, then shrugged his shoulder, and he went to the edge of the porch, marvelling as he saw the multitude, and spoke:

“Whom, then, will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas, or the Nazarene?”

And now He made a sign.

And then there arose an uproar, and the cry went forth from the multitude like thunder.

And the multitude shouted, “Barabbas!”

And they looked upon each other in great fear because each of them, separately had shouted: “The Nazarene!”

And the Master became pale and, turning, looked upon the multitude.

And he did recognize of each and every one his countenance; but, in the twilight of the eve, those many faces became a single one, an enormous head, which was grinning stupidly and malignantly and with impudence at His face. Its blood-shot eyes were blinking, and evil-smelling saliva was running from its mouth; and the roar “Barabbas!” which issued from its throat sounded as if it were a rattle saying “Death!” “Death!”

And Pilate cast down his eyes in embarrassment, and said unto Him, “Thou seest. . .”

And He nodded, and quietly went up the stairs, and stretched out His hands toward the executioner, that he might bind them.

SOURCE: Karinthy, Frigyes. “Barabbas” (Barabbás), translated by István Farkas, in Grave and Gay: Selections from His Work, selected by István Kerékgyárto, afterword by Károly Szalay, binding and jacket by István Bányai, 2nd ed., (Budapest: Corvina Press, 1973), pp. 37-40.

See also (offsite):

Barabbas (January 1917), translated from the Hungarian by L.K. Torok, August 1976, with emendations by Professor Watson Kirkconnell. Excerpt from Volume 5, Krisztus Vagy Barrabás “War And Peace” of the Collected Works by Frigyes Karinthy.

Barabbas, translated by Balázs Kis (The Third Tower, April 3, 2015).

"Frigyes Karinthy, Humorist and Thinker"
by Miklós Vajda

Frigyes (Frederiko) Karinthy (1887-1938) en Esperanto

Futurology, Science Fiction, Utopia, and Alienation
in the Work of Imre Madách, György Lukács, and Other Hungarian Writers:
Select Bibliography

Sándor Szathmári (1897-1974): Bibliografio & Retgvidilo / Bibliography & Web Guide

Alireteje: Offsite:

Frigyes Karinthy @ Ĝirafo

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