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Author's page

Sándor MÁRAI
( 1900 - 1989 )

» Sindbad Goes Home ( 1940 )
» Csutora (1932 )
» The Confessions of a Haut-Bourgeois (1934-35 )
» Memoir of Hungary (1944-48/ 1972 )


1900 born in Kassa
1918 Editor at Budapesti Napló
1919 moves to Berlin, later to Frankfurt to attend university
1920 journalist, Frankfurter Zeitung
1945 member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences
1948 leaves Hungary for political reasons
1952 after living in Switzerland and Italy, he settles in New York and later receives US citizenship
1952-67 works for Radio Free Europe
1968 settles in Salerno, Italy
1979 moves to San Diego
1989 dies in San Diego
1990 receives posthumous Kossuth Prize

Sindbad Goes Home

Szindbád hazamegy (Sindbad Goes Home) 1940 In this novel, Márai relates the last wanderings of the great Hungarian writer, Gyula Krúdy (Sindbad was his hero and alter-ego), who died in poverty and seclusion. The book triggered the revival of the popularity of Krúdy s work in Hungary. "What Márai (who was twenty-two years Krúdy s junior and knew him in the last years of his life) had composed was a Krúdy symphony, in the form of a reconstruction of Krúdy s last day, in Krúdy s style. It begins with his solitary rising and dressing in Óbuda; it ends with his last night, enveloped in the comforter of his unforgettable dreams - dreams that carry Sindbad the sailor to another world. I read this book when I was seventeen. Afterward, I read as much Krúdy (and Márai) as I could lay my hands on, buying Krúdy volumes often in antiquarian bookshops. And I was not alone." (John Lukacs, The New Yorker, 1 December 1986)

The Confessions of a Haut-Bourgeois

Egy polgár vallomásai I-II (The Confessions of a Haut-Bourgeois) 1934-35 A novel, it is one of Márai s best writings and a turning point in his art, a personal account of the writer s childhood in small-town Hungary, an objective but dramatic description of middle-class life. The novel s second part tells about Márai s youth and his life as an artist living and travelling in Western Europe. "The only way a member of the middle-class can become an artist is self-denial. Márai s every success and failure as an artist can be explained by this contradiction. In his best writing... he was capable of self-denial, and was able to leave behind the typical middle-class craftsmanship, and to make use of the realization that culture is only a prerequisite for art, but the work of art itself must be indifferent to culture." (Mihály Szegedy-Maszák) "This is the Hungarian middle-class whose way of life I was born into, observed, came to know and scrutinised in all its features to the very roots, and now I see the whole disintegrating. Perhaps this is my life s, my writing s sole duty: to delineate the course of this disintegration." (Sándor Márai)

Memoir of Hungary
1944-48/ 1972

Föld, föld! (Memoir of Hungary 1944-48) 1972 "This scathing, at times humorous, and always insightful memoir by exiled Hungarian novelist Sándor Márai provides one of the most poignant and humanly alive portraits of life in Hungary between the German occupation in 1944 and the solidification of communist power in 1948." (Blurb) Márai s exemplar was the individual who adhered faithfully to the cultural obligations imposed by a purposeful life, whose ethical values are created by personal discipline and whose "first principle is the fulfilment of duty," a being that shapes his life by creative work in which, Márai proclaimed, "the highest degree of pleasure bursts into flame" and who, despite all evidence to the contrary, continues to be enticed by the vision of human perfectibility. (Albert Tezla) "I found only some firewalls of my home standing. During the siege, it took three bomb hits and more than thirty grenades. I somehow climbed up to the second floor on the rubbish pile but it was difficult to get my bearings in the chaos. The blast had, like some paper mill, ground the books into a pulp. Still, one book with an undamaged title page lay on the rubbish pile right next to my top hat. I picked it up and read the title: "On the care of a Middle-Class Dog," this was its title. I stuck the book in my pocket and cautiously climbed down from the rubbish pile to the ground floor. At this moment - I later thought about this a lot - I felt a strange sense of relief." (From Memoir of Hungary, translated by Albert Tezla)

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