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( 1946 )

» Songs for Tamás Cseh’s Music (1970 - 1990 )
» Legendary (1978)
» The Turned up Collar (1994)


1946 born in Budapest
1970 graduates in Hungarian and Italian Philology from Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest
1970–71 works in public relations for Művelt Nép Book Distribution Company
1971 synchronizing editor at Pannónia Film Studio
1978–present freelance writer, film director
1997 cultural director of the Theatre of Zalaegerszeg

His prizes include:
1979 KISZ Prize, 1982 The Board of Experts’ Author’s Prize for the screenplay of Megáll az idő, 1984 Attila József Prize, 1989 Balázs Béla Prize, 1989 Film Critics' Prize, 1989 First Prize at the Hungarian Film Festival (both director and screenplay writer), 1989 The Best European Film Prize, for his film Eldorádó, 1992 Hungarian Culture Prize, 1998 Jenő Huszka Prize, 1998 The Pop Music Lyrics Writer of the Year, 1998 Pro Urbe Budapest Prize (together with Tamás Cseh, “In acknowledgement of their common mission in the artistic life of Budapest.”), 2001 Kossuth Prize, 2003 Ernő Szép Award for his oeuvre as a playwright, 2011 Prima Primissima Prize, 2013 honorary citizen of Józsefváros, 2014 Middle Cross of the Hungarian Order of Merit, 2014 Artisjus Lifetime Achievement Award

Songs for Tamás Cseh’s Music
1970 - 1990

The Bereményi poems, even when no performed by Tamás Cseh, are a good read in themselves. In the songs, we find rain and history, atmosphere and allusions, love and friendship, humour and melancholy; there are naive and pure hopes and expectations (known from childhood) that somehow turn into their own ironical loss of illusions. Into the songlike texts, the playful repetitions and variations, comes a strange element, hardly perceptible at first. Two friends, Antoine and Désiré, recall Kosztolányi’s stories about Kornél Esti since they, too, are intellectual eccentrics, capable of being surprised at things taken for granted—except the two of them are more hesitant than the Kosztolányi heroes, being products of their own era. The generation was shipwrecked, many of them emigrated, changed, settled. This may be the reason for the many personal allusions in the texts. The songs preserve Eastern Europe’s changing domestic and foreign politics from the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s: Your GDR earrings sparkles light, let’s exchange 65 zloti to Czech crowns -“Krakkói gyors” (The Krakow Express) This is a faceless year - “Jóslat” (Prediction) Moreover, some grotesque experiences surface from his childhood spent in the Fifties; for example, in the song “Fegyverszünet” (Truce), Beremenyi recalls the figure of a displaced countess sitting on the handlebars of a bicycle. Although the texts quite often allude to Hungarian history and literature, the best ones usually carry a universal (or at least Central-Eastern-European) absurd anguish and humour. For example “Mari Ács”: all of them that had stuck in the old way, who cannot forgive... In a time that has changed colour, in the fragments of a broken mirror, I can see what happened to us, I hope I don’t get offended like Mari Ács. Or “Valóság nagybátyám” (My Uncle Reality): A member of my family has left, one we loved dearly, an uncle called Reality. Unfortunately, he is no longer with us, only sends letters to us. In another song, “Széttört a poharam” (My Glass Got Broken), the narrator is drawing history from the wine spilt on the floor: Then my aunt Ida slowly became a bird and flew away. Shall I cry or laugh, they were so ugly on the kitchen floor, as I drew them, my poor aunt Ida, the poor one. My aunt turned in her husband as an ex-pro-fascist, who is defending himself with a humble expression on the stones. And finally, in “Desiré és a szél” (Desiré and the Wind) the winds of the change of 1989 are evoked: Antoine and Desiré are blown by the wind, they approach, leaning forward. Antoine and Desiré their coats are flapping – I’m really afraid they might fall over. And I’m afraid myself, what if I also lean forward too much... Now the wind subsides, My God, I wish that we don’t lean forward. The wind brings the one-time school teacher’s figure ferreting in the garbage—as the final great loss of illusions.


Géza Bereményi’s novel is a characteristic example of the genre of the family novel popular among his generation. The narrator belongs to the “great generation”, the beat generation familiar from Megáll az idő (Time Stops), the cult film made from Bereményi’s screenplay. These young people, after the revolutionary hopes and spiritual sparkling of the 1960s, burned out at the end of their twenties and sank into the framework offered by society. The family falls apart as well, its members living alone, for the most part ignoring one another. The narrator, the eldest son, tries to put together the mosaics of memory in 1976. The Foreword recalls the day of the legendary football match between England and Hungary in 1954 in London’s Wembley Stadium (6-3 for Hungary). This book is primarily a novel of unsuccessful communication, as the family legendry successfully defies the scrutinizing eye of a detective.

The Turned up Collar

Bereményi first called attention to his writing by his stories collected in A svéd király (The Swedish King). The eponymous story demonstrates clearly the nature of the author’s interest in history. The protagonist, Somogyi, is studying history and suddenly finds himself in the middle of a dialogue with the king on his way to a campaign in Russia, who asks back, “And how are things with Ágnes”, the boy’s girlfriend, as apparently their respective campaigns were somehow connected. The selected stories are full of lyricism and humour, anecdotic and grotesque elements, e.g., in the figure of the children playing in the court (Csendőrők /Gendarmes), in the stories of family history, partly taken from Legendárium (Legendry). One of the stories, Eldorádó, became the basis of the popular film with the same title. Through his visions, memories and the stories that were told to him later, the child-protagonist of the story tells in first person singular how he “was dying” of diphtheria, how his grandfather, the chieftain of the market at Teleki Square, saved his life with a rod of gold, and how his grandmother inquired about his death-experience. (The film, more the story of the grandfather, ends in 1956 when the boy cannot save the old man’s life the same way.) Bereményi’s new television play, Hóesés a Vizivárosban (Snowfall in the Viziváros), is similarly adapted from a story in the collection.

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