“This crazy guy was the greatest genius among us”, Dezső Kosztolányi said about his friend Frigyes Karinthy. A new exhibition at the Petőfi Museum of Literature in Budapest focuses on Karinthy’s life and works, showcasing photos, manuscripts, objects and technical devices.
Frigyes Karinthy (1887–1938), one of the most influential writers around the legendary literary magazine Nyugat, is mainly known by Hungarian readers for That’s How You Write, a collection of parodies of well-known writers, and Please Sir! (available online here), a series of sketches from the life of a schoolboy. English-speaking readers may know him for A Journey Round My Skull, republished in English in 2008 by New York Review Books Classics, with an introduction by Oliver Sacks. In that short novel, Karinthy tells the story of his brain tumor, from which he recovered after an operation, but which finally caused his death. The book, as Oliver Sacks writes, is ”not just an elaborate case history; it depicts the complex impact of a sight-, mind- and life-threatening illness on a man of extraordinary sensibility and talent, and even something approaching genius, in the prime of his life. It becomes a journey of insight, of symbolic stages.”
Karinthy’s oeuvre is amazingly rich: he wrote in every genre – novels, short stories, poems and theatrical pieces; his collected works add up to several thousand pages. He also translated several books, including Gulliver’s Travels and Winnie-the-Pooh – the latter is an especially inventive and funny translation, or rather adaptation, of Milne's work.
The exhibition at the Petőfi Museum of Literature (PIM) focuses on Karinthy’s constant need for approval, his amazing intellectual openness, curiosity and flexibility, his sensitivity for a psychological understanding of everyday life, and his elementary need for argumentation.
28 March – 31 December 2013, Petőfi Museum of Literature (Petőfi Irodalmi Múzeum), Budapest, Károlyi u. 16.
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