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György RÓNAY
( 1913 - 1978 )

» Between Petőfi and Ady (1958)
» Barn, collected poems (1981)
» Diary (1989)


1913 born in Budapest
1936 graduates in Hungarian and French Literature and Linguistics from the Budapest University; first poem published in the Nyugat
1937 moves to Budapest; reader at Révai Publishing House
1939 obtains doctorate in Szeged
1943 with his friends, founds and edits the short-lived literary, Ezüstkort (Silver Age)
1945 on the editorial board of the Catholic literary periodical, Vigilia
1947–49 member of parliament for the Democratic People’s Party
1948-57 not allowed to publish for political reasons
1969 editor at the Vigilia
1978 dies in Budapest

His prizes include:
1942 Baumgarten Prize, 1967 Attila József Prize, 1977 Grand Prize of the Polish PAX Publishing House’s Novel Contest

Between Petőfi and Ady

Petőfi és Ady között (Between Petőfi and Ady) 1958 In his volumes of essays and studies, György Rónay is concerned with several periods, trends and authors of Hungarian and world literature. He writes criticism, essay and surveys, spanning almost the whole Hungarian literary history (A regény és az élet, (The Novel and Life, 1947); Petőfi és Ady között (Between Petőfi and Ady, 1958); A nagy nemzedék (The Great Generation, 1971); Olvasás közben (While Reading, 1971); Kutatás közben (While Searching, 1974); Balassitól Adyig (From Balassi to Ady, 1978). In Petőfi és Ady között Rónay examines the continuity of Hungarian poetry, describing how the poets of the 19th century prepared the way (in their innovations of tone, topic or imagery) for the great leap experienced at the beginning of the 20th century. He places emphasis on the changing values of the “national” characteristics usually taken for granted as stable. “His method as a critic is almost meticulously analytic; he never takes some great concept or aesthetic theory as his starting point, but instead starts from the text in question, examining its own units, starting at its very building blocks, through its construction to the writer’s intention, and in such detail and with such intuition that I would like to say: he proceeds partly as a scholar (if this way, I would not overrate scholarship) and partly with poetic punctuality (if the present flow of poetry had not ruined the credibility of that expression).” -Balázs Lengyel

Barn, collected poems

Szérű (Barn, collected poems) 1981 György Rónay belonged to the “third generation” of the Nyugat movement, who returned to the first great generation of Babits, Kosztolányi and Ady in its verse forms and polished style. His thinking is characterised by the open, humanistic version of Catholicism. A reserved classicist, his personal, social-historical experiences are built into the atmosphere of the poems, as Balázs Lengyel observes, “the foundation of the Rónay poem is experience put into shape and made harmonic.” After the cool abstraction of the poet’s first significant volume (Te mondj el engem, You Tell about Me), in the years following World War II, he allows more facts and spontaneity into the poems (like in “The Decay of Jerusalem”, 1945, a poem speaking overtly about Budapest). From here he reaches objective poetry (“Christus Frasobliwy”, 1965) and to the more personal tone of the late poems (“Serapion Legends”, “Cantatas”) appearing in the volume Roses in Kakucs and after (published partially posthumously).


Napló 1–2. (Diary) 1989 Having written poems, stories, novels, essays and studies, Rónay explored the genre of the diary. He once wrote, “The diary should confine itself to a workshop, a mirror, an examination of the conscience, a control of the self and a kind of memory; it should be a ‘tool’, and in two senses at that. First, towards literary creation, second, to the development of our own personality.” During the repression of literature that took place during the 1950s, however, the genre “stands for retaining a continuity of expression,” as Kálmán Vargha writes. Besides fresh emotional experiences, impressions, work plans and study sketches, Rónay always kept a reader’s diary, while reading Kafka, Flaubert, Balzac and others, and with deep intuition he identifies with the work and the author. “This is why, instead of great, and often superficial, brush strokes, I try to grab the writer at some typical, or critical, point: in one specific work, at one specific phase of his oeuvre, from where, through patient and scrupulous analysis, one can unfold not only the character or the nature (of both work and author), but the intricate roots as well, which connect him to his age and society, and through which he is fed by his age and society.”

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