Memoir of Hungary, 1944-1948

Memoir of Hungary, 1944-1948

Memoir of Hungary, 1944-1948

Memoir of Hungary, 1944-1948

Synopsis

The novel Embers is selling in tens of thousand in a number of countries. The memoir of its author depicts Hungary between 1944 and 1948.

Excerpt

On February 22, 1989, the phone rang in the Budapest apartment of Szegedy-Maszák, one of Márai’s few remaining friends in Hungary. At the other end of the line was a San Diego reporter inquiring about the very old man who had apparently committed suicide the day before, and whose ashes were to be scattered in the Pacific Ocean two days later. It should occasion no surprise that the caller from America required information about a Hungarian writer who had left his homeland forty years before, and had lived in several countries before settling into a reclusive life in his eightieth year in San Diego. But what may surprise readers outside Hungary is that, at the time of his death, even in the land of his birth, where he had once been a best-selling author, most readers under forty had not read any of his writings and, it is very likely, most of those in their twenties would not even recognize his name. Before leaving Hungary for political reasons in September 1948, Márai had published forty-six books, mostly novels. He enjoyed a large readership among city dwellers and the middle class, and Hungarian critics and literary historians considered him to be the nation’s most influential representative of middle-class literature between the two world wars. Moreover, he had, in the forty years since his departure, added sixteen titles to his list of publications, all in Hungarian, though these works were read in Hungary only by an intellectual élite of his own generation who were able to slip them past customs officials on returns from rare visits to the West.

Márai began his long writing career when he was only fourteen with an article in a newspaper published in Kassa, his birthplace, then a part of Upper Hungary. By eighteen he was contributing feuilletons to the Budapesti Napló (Budapest Journal), a liberal . . .

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