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( 1936 - 2002 )

» Black Holiday (1960)
» The Acrobat's Fiancée (1982)
» Under Siege (2002)


1936 born in Budapest
1944 placed in an orphanage after his father's death; became a child prodigy
1954-59 studies in Hungarian Philology and Librarianship at Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest without completing degree
1960 freelance writer
1981-1990 on the staff, and then, 1990-2002, senior editor, of the literary review Kortárs in Budapest
1987-88 guest professor at Hamline University in St. Paul and the University of Minnesota; lectures at poetry conferences in India and Korea
1989 vice-president of the Hungarian PEN Club
1993 member of the Hungarian Literary Academy (Széchenyi Irodalmi és Művészeti Akadémia)
2002 dies in Szigliget

His prizes include:
1973, 1985 Attila József Prize, 1974 Graves Prize, 1987 Tibor Déry Prize, 1989 Sándor Weöres Prize, 1992 Kossuth Prize, 1997 Pro Literatura Prize, Soros Prize

Black Holiday

Fekete ünnep (1960, Black Holiday), A teremtés napja (1963, The Day of Creation) A fateful, tragic life seems to have most influenced the writer Ottó Orbán. He spent his childhood in wartime Budapest, lost his father in the Nazi persecution of the Jews, grew up in an orphanage and witnessed the 1956 Revolution, leading to a breakdown in 1957. History, society and freedom of action of the individual are constantly examined in his writing. Here, in his early poetry, he appears an heir to the previous generation of poets, who reformed the poetic idiom by indulging in visionary images, writing in a serious tone, seeking a cosmic role for the poet. Orbán follows much of this while loosening the rigidity of that voice with all sorts of playful elements.

Under Siege

Ostromgyűrűben (2002, Under Siege) Orban writes: “The final poem in the devoted to the September 11 atrocities, when Arrows shot across the sky, three black planes Bring the answer of madness to the question of the age. Like every other decent person, Orbán rejects this ‘answer of madness’ but is nevertheless filled with gloom and pessimism about the future of the civilized world. At any rate, while alive, he was fighting the forces of the underworld with his every fiber. Under Siege is a poetic testimony to that struggle.” -George Gömöri

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