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Lőrinc SZABÓ
( 1900 - 1957 )

» Earth, Forest, God (1922 )
» You and the World (1932)
» Cricket Music (1947 )


1900 born in the industrial city of Miskolc
1919 begins his studies at the University of Budapest, never completing them
1921 translates and writes for the literary periodical Nyugat; works for an evening paper
1922 first book of poems
1927 editor of the literary periodical Pandora; journalist of the daily Pesti Napló
1957 dies in Budapest

His prizes include:
1932, 1937, 1944 Baumgarten Prize, 1957 Kossuth Prize

Earth, Forest, God

Föld, erdő, Isten (Earth, Forest, God), 1922 Lőrinc Szabó s first book of poems reveals a poet of Dionysian spirit surrounded by a bucolic landscape. The apparent heterogeneity of this collection comes from its boundless pantheism, the use of blank verse and the overuse of adjectives. Szabó s early poetry was strongly influenced by his friend and master, Mihály Babits, and by Stefan George; its style is close to expressionism and bears traces of the Neue Sachlichkeit. His second volume, Kalibán (Caliban, 1923), is similarly heterogeneous; Szabó appears to lose his willingness to accept inner peace and revolts against mankind in general, especially his master, Prospero-like Babits, saying that no human being is capable of such pure Olympian conduct. Without yet knowing why, Szabó was not quarrelling with the idea of beauty that Babits represented; rather, he was in his restlessness revolting against life itself and its irreconcilable antagonisms. Duality and a lust for negation later became the central principles of his works.

You and the World

Te meg a világ (You and the World), 1932 Szabó s second artistic period is that of bitter scepticism, agnosticism and disenchantment. Szabó was deeply interested in philosophy, especially in Schopenhauer, Bertrand Russell and oriental thought. This volume, together with the following Különbéke (Separate Peace Treaty, 1936), are monuments of intellectual curiosity, especially that of cruel self-analysis. The world is revealed as a prison where man is condemned to solitude ( I am covered by solitude, as an apple is by its skin ), and only fleeting bodily contact is possible between the sexes, for love is only a secret duel between two interests . Szabó s poetic style purifies itself; instead of images we find merciless logic and puritan language. Objectivity and exact description, however painful, are to be valued most. The bitter analytical poems, revolting against moral values, are counterpointed by poems relating parables from Buddhism and poems about Lóci, his son.

Cricket Music

Tücsökzene (Cricket Music) 1947 Szabó s third phase was one of reflection; towards the end of his life he seems to have found a personal harmony such that he could comfortably recall his childhood memories and the happy moments of his adult life. His lyrical autobiography Tücsökzene is a fine example of narrative poetry, a loosely connected chain of verses (370 poems of 18 lines each) describing with objective sensibility various episodes of his own life. A huszonhatodik év (The 26th Year, 1957), Szabó s final book of verse, is tragic in inspiration; it is a canzoniere, a book of praise and mourning, recalling the memory of a love affair lasting 25 years. The sonnet-cycle of 120 pieces presents an eternal love of beauty and intensity, ending with the death of the mistress. Szabó s mystic interpretation of love has the power to provide catharsis for both him and the reader.

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