Ervin Lázár has recently celebrated his 70th birthday. Although he is best known as the author of wonderful children’s books, his Csillagmajor (The Little Town of Miracles), fifteen short tales based on the author’s experiences as a child growing up in a Hungarian village, is written for adults.
"Towards the end he kept saying / how he’s not to blame / that Imre Nagy died / or was killed / or whatever. / Murdered. / He asked: / isn’t he invited to the funeral? / And I said: no. / Because he never got notified. / And he says: / But the funeral is today! / And I say: / Yes, I know. / And then they came and took him away."
Kádár’s last utterance comprised the entire tragedy of this truly epoch-making character: a monarch, whose destiny is completed, whose life ends on the very day when the victim whom he had betrayed, Imre Nagy, is rehabilitated by the courts.
Eurozine, a network of Europe’s leading cultural journals, is an online magazine featuring texts taken from its partner journals on various pressing issues of our time, translated into English. HLO talked to editor Simon Garnett about the present, past and future of the magazine during the Budapest Book Festival.
Between the two rounds of the parliamentary elections in Hungary, HLO's sister site, Litera asked eleven writers to write a short note in which they describe their feelings about the political atmosphere in the country. A jury composed of five students from various Hungarian universities chose the best from the "national eleven".
Concepts such as the "greatness" of these works or, God forbid, a sensibility for transcendence are non-existent: the system offers them no houseroom. The outcome of all this is "fatal mediocrity." This is how László Földényi F. sees contemporary German literature.
"'Mother, I said they took everyone away, they raped every woman! You said they took away women here, too.’ ’Yes, but only those who were whores. You are not one,’ my mother said. They she threw herself on me and begged, ‘My dear, tell me it is not true!’ ‘All right,’ I said, ‘it is not true. They took me away just to nurse the sick.’"
The Budapest Book Festival, one of Hungary’s most popular cultural events, took place between 20-23 April this year. The festival, where 550 publishers exhibited 40-50 thousand books – among them 300 new publications – took place at the Budapest Congress Centre, on three levels.
"I had to go as far as America, to get to know the Hopis and the Pueblo Indians, to find my way back home. All in all, I wanted to get away; and long after I finally did, I realised it had been a mistake – in a way, a failure. However, it took me half of my life to understand this."