"I wanted to know who, why and how was involved in ruining the first half of my life." - Poet Zsófia Balla moved from Romania to Hungary shortly after the regime change in 1989. We asked her about her decision to request the surveillance file by the Romanian Secret Service (the Securitate) targeting her during communism.
L had been an unemployed steel worker from Miskolc and had been attracted by an advertisement in a major Hungarian newspaper offering work in England. He went to an office in Budapest, was told about the job and presented with a contract that he signed. The contract was in English, not in Hungarian and he signed without understanding it.
Written by Magda Szabó (89), one of the most well-known and widely translated authors of current Hungarian literature, The Door, a manifestly autobiographical novel, tells the tale of a long and rhapsodic relationship between two stubborn women, the middle-aged lady-writer Magda and her old housekeeper, Emerence.
"If for several centuries we all have to be jointly and uniformly silent about the body, this means that we need to be silent about a number of other ramifications, too. This means we expose ourselves to some truly dangerous things."
In the category of feature films at the 37th Hungarian Film Festival, the screening of György Pálfi’s new film Taxidermia was preceded by much expectation. The movie is based on the short stories and writings of Lajos Parti Nagy. The screenplay was written by the director and Zsófia Ruttkay.
In advance of Imre Kertész’s first public appearance in Great Britain on 5 March at the Jewish Book Week, it seemed worth gathering together a handful of references that he has made to the English in various published works. This is mostly because they carry an amusingly equivocal edge, but they also highlight a few of the difficult choices translators sometimes face.
Imre Kertész was the topic of a panel discussion at a recent American Slavist conference in Toronto. A member of the audience expressed the opinion that to a committed American Jew like himself, Fatelessness is an artistically distinguished, even exquisite example of Jewish self-hate.
"The stuff of this novel is closer to an anthropological or ethical description – it is more attuned to answering the question 'what sort of a being is man?' And in answering this it will treat other people’s opinions and beliefs as simple raw material, just as a doctor who gives a person an anaesthetic and does not take into account their sensitivities in other walks of life or worry about their nakedness."