04. 02. 2014. 13:12

Frivolities and confessions (excerpt)

In 1983, literary historian Lóránt Kabdebó conducted a series of interviews with Miklós Szentkuthy. These interviews — confessions — were later published in a book form. The excerpt published here is about the genealogy of Szentkuthy's monumental masterpiece, Prae, forthcoming in English from Contra Mundum Press.

Miklós Szentkuthy: Prae, my first novel, appeared in 1934. As to all the things that went into Prae, what inspired it, I already set that out with my accustomed terseness on the jacket blurb of the second edition,[1] but what the hell, I’ll summarize it again — maybe expand on it a bit. I’ll recall a few of the subjects and books which, taken together, can be conceived as an imaginary Prae library of commentary on Prae.

During my university years, I read the German existentialist philosophers whom I… caricatured! let’s say. Heidegger, Husserl, Jaspers, and what have you. So I had a good chuckle at those who supposed (still suppose) that I am rooted in German philosophy of that kind. Quite the reverse: I was parodying real-life existentialist philosophers (and some I made up).

For instance, I invented the title of one of those philosophical works: Einleitung in die reine Undheit (‘An Introduction to Pure And-ness’). Dollykins[2] is making herself known. Let’s hear what she has to say.

Dóra Szentkuthy: Someone from Paris paid us a visit and asked where the work Reine Undheit was to be found in the philosophical literature.

Miklós Szentkuthy: Oh, indeed! When the periodical Magyar Műhely[3] produced a Szentkuthy issue, one of their staff paid me a visit. He said that he had searched in libraries for works that I had actually invented. Antal Szerb was aware of that, and in the review that he wrote for the journal Erdélyi Helikon after Prae appeared,[4] he mentioned with a titter that Prae was full of quotations and titles taken from books of learning — strictly non-existent ones, of course.

(I took my readings in philosophy further, in the mid-Thirties, and I will speak about that later on when we get to it.)

When I wrote Prae I had already read Proust (I mentioned the circumstances: the Palatinus baths,[5] sand, the exciting sight of women in swimming costumes…). He had demonstrable influence here and there. I am a hypersuperultraimpressionist, and instead of writing short stories, essays, small-scale and grand drama, aphorisms, fragments of memoirs, short novels, etc., out of my fantasies: I had always wanted to weave the fantastic thoughts and thousand impressions of my ‘Proust trauma’ of 1926 into the composition of a single giant work (the spur from the point of view of a ‘giant composition’ was Curtius’s Balzac monograph[6] — I have already mentioned, in talking about my final years at grammar school — what an extraordinary influence it had on me).

À la recherche du temps perdu did not become my model through its analysis of psychological hypershading (though it is no slouch at that), but as a cathédrale des cathédrales: the literary counterpart of Reims and Amiens. I also read my way through almost all of Freud’s works, but their effect on Prae can be found at best only in traces.

I should note in passing that Proustian psychological portrayal and Freudian psychoanalysis have nothing at all in common! Many superficial people ignore that in putting Proust and Freud in the same pigeonhole.

In Proust there is no question of raising things from a ‘subconscious.’ Quite the contrary — that is, perhaps, a most characteristically French literary tradition anyway! — it is a matter of the clearest analysis of emotions and thought processes taking place at the top tier of the soul, in an almost ecstatically conscious knowledge of consciousness (worthy of Descartes’ Discours de la méthode). But whether Proust or Freud I was later bored rigid with all the psychologizing, and it was at this point that I was attracted to puppet-style representation, to puppet theater. Already in Prae, one of the protagonists edits a periodical named Antipsyche, which is not a negation of the psyche from a fun-fair materialist point of view but a counter to the great many exaggerated portrayals of the psyche in literature. To say nothing of what I frequently discussed with the psychiatrists and psychologists among my friends: the reason I became disenchanted with psychological portrayals is that my reading made it clear to me that, compared to the physiologically most complicated complex of the human body, the components of psychological life proceeded on a simpler scheme. People are disheartened in thinking how complicated the inner workings of psychological states and behaviors are; how complex, how paradoxical, how ambivalent. Really? One could count off the number of constituents on the fingers of both hands.

Our physical existence, our skin, our bones, our nerves, our bone marrow — now they are hypercomplex. To a non-medical person, those are all totally baffling: what are the physiological components that control even the tiniest movements we make? Call him Doctor Ignoramus Supremus, Creator Admiramus Ultimus, or God: he created our hypercomplicated organisms, the pituitary gland, hormones, biochemistry, respiration, the immune system — they evolved over millions of years to become what they are. That big apparatus, that hypercomplexity, in order that I should be able to take a book in my hand, eat a slice of bread, caress a woman, fall ill from time to time, and die? What’s this? What’s this about? That is why I’m in the habit of saying that my life and thought have two underlying motifs — ignorance and wonderment.

That is even more glaring in the case of animals. Even the simplest living beings are hypercomplicated, and we are continually discovering ever-newer physiological refinements within them. They eat, kill, preserve, race, perish. Is that the reason for this complicated organism? That untrackable physiology? Of course, the big difference is that the manifold constituents of our physical being are unknown to us, but our body — there’s no getting away from it — lives its own particular life regardless of us. On the other hand, we seem to be able to control matters of the psyche, ‘be sensible of them,’ and therefore they seem more complex.

That was merely a simile on my part to the effect that the ‘most complicated’ of the refined Freudian morsels of psychological life is paltry as compared to the constitution of our complicated body.

What of it? It was one of the reasons for my swinging away somewhat from psychology and for that protagonist in Prae starting the periodical Antipsyche. I took a strong liking to the representation of puppets.

Further inspiration for Prae:

At the time I wrote it, in 1928–1932, between the ages of 20 and 24, I was studying at a university. That is also the time to which my friendships with Gábor Halász and Antal Szerb date;[7] in 1928 I made a big tour of Europe with my father, while in 1931 there was a one-year scholarship to study in England, my honeymoon, and more detailed perambulations in Europe.

When I made that ‘huge’ trip with my father in 1928 (it was very nearly the classic 18th-century grand tour on which young men were conducted round Europe), the germs of Prae had already been sown in me. So when I entered the third year of my studies in the Arts Faculty at the University of Budapest in the autumn of ’28, I began writing Prae. Thus, the grand tour I made when I was twenty gave me a push, and from the autumn of that year I wrote at home, I wrote at the university, I wrote... When I got to know Dolly I wrote in the little palace her parents had on the Fasor, or rather on Queen Wilhelmina Avenue.[8] I wrote on a green baize card table in the enormous grand bourgeois ‘drawing room’ or in a small villa tucked away at the back of its garden (the soprano Vilma Medgyaszay[9] had been my predecessor there). Then? The year of my life in 1931–32 that I spent between London and Europe likewise had a decisive influence on Prae — I worked on it in London, as well. In point of fact, I was still writing in 1932, when I began teaching at the Madách Grammar School on Barcsay Street.

So, the traveling in 1928 gave me the first impetus to write Prae. I set about as soon as I got back home, and the writing went largely in parallel to my dissertation on Ben Jonson.

The second big impetus was the European tour I made with Dolly in 1931–32.

My reading included Aldous Huxley, whose intellectualism both excited and attracted me (typically, the English were not too fond of him because he was — how should I put it? — a ‘continental’ style intellectual, alien to the British).

My reading also included: in French literature, Giraudoux, whose magical metaphors, similes, and games were likewise terribly appealing. Mauriac — his Catholicism, Jansenism, morality, and serious somberness had a big effect on me. Paul Valéry, whose, on the one hand, extraordinarily refined, hyperanalytical aphorisms and, on the other hand, poems imbued with the idea of ‘poésie pure’ were also fascinating. That was not, however, to point out that all of these were sucked up into Prae: they simply interested me.

I read Joyce in 1931; I’ve already related the circumstances in which I did, so here let me just note that the essence of the Joyce connection was his most minute observation of the most mundane reality and, at the same time, the most pyrotechnical mythological games — that duality is flesh and blood to my own psyche and nature: hypernaturalism and simultaneously a luxuriance of fantasy.

Joyce’s mental world was profoundly kindred to my own. Prae and Ulysses cannot be compared to Finnegans Wake.[10] Our works are as distant from each other as Makó[11] from Jerusalem, but in many respects their mental worlds are akin. It seems to be an exciting and amusing psychological law: the derivation of the simplest veristic observation and apocalyptic Bosch fantasy from one and the same root — Flaubert! Flaubert!

With regard to the style and stock of similes in Prae, the strongest influence was not Proust or even Joyce, but — my mathematical studies.

At that time I read countless books on modern physics and mathematics. Back then quantum theory was still a novelty, and I built up a whole little library of books on that. To mention just a few of them: Planck’s fundamental essay on quantum mechanics; the papers by Heisenberg and de Broglie on the uncertainty principle and wave mechanics, and Einstein’s short dissertation on the method of theoretical physics — for me those were great treasures in the early Thirties. It was around that time that I also read the marvelous books by Eddington on the physical world: The Nature of the Physical World and The Expanding Universe, and I read Jeans’ book on astronomy: The Mysterious Universe.

I should again make it clear that in my Prae period, which is to say the early Thirties, I was assisted in my studies of mathematics and theoretical physics by my friend Hipparchus,[12] mathematician, musician, astronomer, adept at number theory, a boundlessly decent person, art lover, and traveler. Back then the Einsteinian view of the world and quantum mechanics were novelties for me and for others. Atomic physics was not so much in fashion as it became. I therefore did read through and study the works of authors who concerned themselves with it, and they had an extraordinary influence on Prae. Its stock of metaphors and logical progression would have been inconceivable without reading and experiencing the writings of those distinguished physicists and mathematicians.

Mária Tompa: To what extent do readers need to be aware of this?

MSz: I had no need of the mathematical papers in writing Prae. I kept an eye on them because they interested and excited me. They had an influence. Mathematical thought processes were a decisive hit on the style, the range of metaphors, and the psychoanalytic passages of Praesubliminally, of course! I didn’t write that Maggie entered with a face like a square root of minus one divided by epsilon logarithm three sigma zero point five.

MT: Naturally, that goes without saying, but what I had in mind was: to what extent does a reader need to know that the author was pursuing mathematical papers, and that his similes have a certain mathematical weight. This is not the first time, Miklós, that I have heard you assert that similes may be overabundant in your work. One metaphor comes after another, but each of them has its own location and mathematically very precise definitive value; what the average reader will consider to be eccentric Baroque twaddle is every inch the most exact and rational definition. Our friend, the medical researcher and cell biologist Dr. Izabella Miczbán, had a surprisingly sharp insight in making that discovery.

MSz: There is no necessity for a reader to know that Prae’s assortment of metaphors is mathematically inspired.

MT: In Joyce’s case it is virtually obligatory to read works like Jean Paris’s book Joyce par lui-même. One can be bowled over in amazement at the luxuriance of allusions to literature, mythology, politics, and art history that are lurking in Joyce’s works.

Lóránt Kabdebó: So, theoretical physics is to you what the Code Napoléon was to Stendhal.

DSz: Mari didn’t ask how many books on mathematics a reader should read; merely whether a reader needs to know that you were influenced by books on mathematics.

MT: Yes. So is it easier to read Prae knowing that there is a mathematical background to it?

MSz: Naturally, the edges of positive and specific mathematical studies do occasionally poke out of the sack without any kind of sublimation at all. The resounding proof of that is a publication from the Central Research Institute for Physics in which a physicist and Szentkuthy reader produced a list of the sentences in which, alongside mathematically inspired similes, the modern stars of physics and mathematics can be discovered by the name and title of their books.

This is where I ought to say that the second edition of Prae was edited by my co-author and colleague, who is sitting here, by my side.[13] There is a touching charm about the fact that she, who understands Prae at a truly profound level, or else I would not have entrusted the job to her, even after years can still ask me so sweetly…

MT: Not on my own account, but for the benefit of intelligent readers in their twenties who are coming to Prae for the first time — my intention was to ask on their behalf, as a quasi reporter’s question, if the reader needs to be aware that there is a whole mathematical hinterland to it. In my view, it’s no bad thing if there is an awareness of that — no bad thing at all.

LK: Then people will say there is a mathematical culture behind it in the same way that the Code Napoléon was behind Stendhal.

DSz: A very good analogy.

MT: Yes, it is good, just a touch lame inasmuch as Stendhal is extraordinarily readable, and there’s no need for an explanatory commentary.

MSz: A reader who struggles with my style in Prae and learns that I spent a lot of time studying mathematics will understand straight away? All the more reason why it will be tossed to one side!

LK: Will find a reason not to…

DSz: For not understanding and for being able to toss it to one side.

MSz: To go on with the stimuli for Prae.

At that time I was very interested in modern architecture. Around 1920 the Bauhaus movement was a fairly big novelty in Germany, and I have paid close attention to it since then right down to the present day. I like it, among other things, because it is one of the most typical 20th-century phenomena; to put it in other terms, it is genuinely modern; it bears no resemblance to the Romanesque, or the Gothic, or the Baroque. If a new century is dawning, let it bring something truly new, not like the end of the 18th century, which was all copies — I mean there was a wish to construct in an Arab-Gothic style on Andrássy út,[14] etc. When I set off for England in 1931 for a honeymoon that was combined with a study scholarship, I was profoundly influenced by seeing ‘Cubist’ buildings for the first time in Vienna, Prague, then Antwerp, and Paris. That all went into Prae.

To jump forward a bit:  later I was given as a present a book about Frank Lloyd Wright, the architect of the Guggenheim Museum in New York: a coiled-up building — a rolled up Parenica[15] cheese. I learned at art college that when Michelangelo saw the façade of the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella in Florence he exclaimed, “La mia sposa!”[16] Well, when I saw the Guggenheim ziggurat I was carried away by a similar declaration of engagement.

Then, too, as now — I won’t go into the details — the works of Picasso, the Franco-Spanish artist, were a constant source of inspiration from a great many points of view. One particular point of view from among the many? Should I come clean or not? I kept quiet about it until now — I am extraordinarily erotic by nature. What is one to do about that? Go around with my eyes lowered? I am anyway keeping quiet about a huge number of things in these avowals: the confessions are partly too frank, partly highly untruthful. That is something that can be said about more than my nature anyway — it happens with many people that there are certain accursed or merciful moments when they permit themselves to own up to some awfully big matter, yet at the same time they stay silent about something just as big.

MT: To keep quiet is not necessarily to lie.

MSz: Very true, but if one keeps a great many things secret from the person with whom one is living, one’s entire existence with that person is, all the same — false. A one-off holding back is not a lie, but constant keeping secrets from one’s partner or friend amounts to lying. To state that does not require much psychological or moral insight.

Right then! So I’ve said how passionate a connection tied me to Picasso throughout my life, just as eroticism was a constant source of stimulus. In the grammar school, when my friend Miklós Kun[17] shared a Rodin monograph with me, the eroticism of the statues immediately had an immense impact on me.


I can point out two poles of eroticism in the visual arts. One of those is Picasso’s illustrations of Ovid. The other is Hans Bellmer’s drawings. I got those ready for you so that you can take a look at them during the break.

On visiting galleries, sculptures and paintings of women in a neoclassic style (i.e., emulations of Hellenistic art) likewise had a very strong effect on me. For example, to take one painter among many, the neoclassical nude figures of Pierre-Paul Prud’hon had much more impact on me than any pornography. At much the same time I developed a lifelong love for the drawings of Aubrey Beardsley, about which I already had lots to tell you, but then repetitions are part and parcel of a sniggering last will and testament… It may well be that after this joyeux valediction I will derive inspiration from all this. Who can know? The one does not exclude the other.

It was in that period that my first far-reaching love affairs developed, because I will divulge this much, if it could not be guessed by now: many women played a very, very big part in my life. That had already started in the Prae period. I have already mentioned these highly significant, fateful personages, and I shall make further playful symbolic reference to them because I have retained some sense of discretion. Various extremes of eroticism and decadence have continually circumscribed me. I have only ventured into those domains in such a way that, if necessary, I was instantly able to withdraw. I have spoken about Goethe, who was also haunted by demons of depravity, decadence, and perversion, but in the nick of time: “Oops! Watch it! Don’t get lost in this! One thing is important: a final victory for reason and classicism — after one has taken a good dip on Walpurgis Night. After all, any kind of reason and balance is only worth anything if both balance pans can compete in satiety. Goethe’s classicism was only worth anything if it overcame the ‘swinishness’ of Walpurgis Night. It doesn’t take wizardry for a eunuch to be chaste.

It was that dualism I wanted to bring out on the jacket for the second edition of Arc és álarc[18] — the back cover is a woodcut of a witches’ Sabbath by Hans Baldung Grien.[19]

Continuing with the spurs for Prae. At the time I read a lot of the works of Paracelsus, particularly because the medicine of antiquity — to the great disdain of many practitioners nowadays — had a strong influence on my own thinking about natural science. The whole universe and living human organisms form a material entity: to me that is extraordinarily exciting. De facto, of course, it does not hold water: the kidneys correspond to some chemical element, and that corresponds to some star — or what do I know? What it expresses globally, though, is the idea that somewhere there is a link between each of my organs, a chemical element, and the remotest nebulae — somewhere they are related. It can be established spectroscopically that the same materials are present as in this or that organ. What I like about Paracelsus, let me repeat, is that somehow he knew how to put over that the cosmic unity of the world. The idea of the material unity of the world also went into Prae!

Then came biology. A favorite reading matter at that time was Bölsche’s Love Life in Nature in a 1910 edition with interesting Art Nouveau illustrations. Even with primitive beings, indeed with them perhaps most of all, I am thrilled by the details of how they conduct their sexual reproduction: how did that whole big sexual comedy of which we are now the victims, now the beneficiaries, begin? Another favorite author (even if snobs may not take him seriously) has continued to be — someone of, as best I know, Hungarian ancestry — Raoul H. Francé.[20] His works were about protozoa and primitive vascular plants, more advanced animals and plants — all of which naturally covered their sexual life.

One of the leitmotifs in Prae, partly on the basis of my travels, party gleaned from my readings, is Anglo-French rivalry. The difference between the two countries greatly exercised me. One of the protagonists is French: Leville-Touqué, the other an Englishman: Halbert.

After the existentialist, sometimes nihilist, Latin-impish world of Leville-Touqué and Leatrice, etc., comes a humane, profoundly human meditation of Halbert’s father, an elderly English vicar. Prae’s lyricism is made perceptible through these two extremes.

One extreme, then, is the ‘existentialist’: skeptical parts are evoked by the mood of the grand tour in 1928, Papa’s brush with Europe, the orgy of culture-grubbing, Paris, Chartres, Monte Carlo. A symbol of that could be Picasso-esque modernism. The other extreme: my trip to England in 1931. Then I had more time and inclination for a penetrating observation of English provincial life and countryside — sections that I wrote partly in London, partly in Exeter. A symbol of that could be Turner-esque modernism.

Is this the place to note right away what England meant for me, when all is said and done, at the time of writing Prae, and also later on? A great deal! Included in that were articles in the Times Literary Supplement and their critical spirit — included in that were the marvels and excitements of English Norman and Gothic cathedrals — included in that were the lyricism of 17th-century English Baroque — included in that was the spirit of Chesterton that was emanating as humorous, paradoxical, fantastic, playful, somersaulting, scholastic, bluffing Catholicism. Included in it, of course, was the poetry of John Keats — I recollect that when I was a teacher I taught the students the poems of Keats as articles of faith. Included in it was Shakespeare, and included in it was Ben Jonson, about whom I wrote my doctoral dissertation. Last but not least, a lifelong companion was the large album of In English Homes,[21] which I showed you in the course of our early conversations.

LK: I would be interested to know how the name Leatrice came into being. Where does it come from? How should it be pronounced? One essayist has identified it with Dante’s Beatrice…. Alternatively, he also drew a parallel with Leah in the Bible.

MSz: So much learning!  I find it hard to say anything. You’re going to have to keep on being hungry, because from a distance of 50 years I simply don’t recall where I got the name from, or my original pronunciation. Now that I come to mention it I say ‘Leetris,’ but I can count on the fingers of my two hands the number of times I have spoken the name since 1934… I am dead sure, however, that Leatrice is not some modern nihilistic version of Beatrice; they are not even vaguely similar figures. At most one might suppose that I may have wanted to create an anti-Beatrice, but I’m sure it wasn’t that I had in mind.

LK: Is there no living model for her?

MSz: No, no living model. All I recall is that when I was with my father in 1928, I bought an English illustrated magazine in which there was a photo of an actress that I saved. I have an idea that was the trigger. Later on the figure was heavily modified.

LK: What do you! It’s been dug out: Film and Theatre Illustrated, the July 1928 issue, page 176 — Miss Marion Douglas, the leading lady in the film The Bushranger.[22] The description of Leatrice is near the beginning of Chapter II in the 1980 second edition — it would be worth comparing the two portraits.

MSz: What instigated the figure was modern fashion (I have here an album of fashion shots that appeared in Vogue magazine from 1920 to 1980. Paul Valéry writes that “il n’y a pas de chose plus profonde que la peau[23]“There is nothing deeper than the skin.” Well, I would now say the same goes for dresses, hairstyles, hats, and shoes. What a person wears and how they wear it is highly characteristic of the person; the fashion of an era is at once frivolous and a profession of faith.

Other inspirations were experimental theaters, metropolitan nightclubs, comedies of the historical past, mythology, theology, art exhibitions, and concerts. When all is said and done, a great deal of what I have related in connection with my years at grammar school and university, my reading matter, my theater visits, and my friendships had to leave a deep imprint on my works — first and foremost Prae.


[1] Published in 1980 by Szépirodalmi Könyvkiadó.

[2] Szentkuthy’s nickname for his wife (née Dóra Eppinger), whom he first met in 1928, was Dolly or Dollykins.

[3] ‘Hungarian Workshop,’ an émigré Hungarian-language literary periodical and publishing house, started in Paris in 1962 under the editorship of writer-poets Pál Nagy (1934–) and Tibor Papp (1936–). The issue devoted entirely to Szentkuthy’s work was Vol. 15, No. 45–46 (1973).

[4] See Hyperion: On the Future of Aesthetics, Vol. VII, No. 2 (July 18, 2013) 93–96. The relevant sentence — “References do occur, but strictly to non-existing books” — comes toward the end of the second paragraph.

[5] This bath complex (designed in 1937) is located on Margaret Island in the River Danube between Pest and Buda, is fed by thermal springs, and its large main pool has a wave machine.

[6] Ernst Robert Curtius (1886–1956) was a German literary scholar, and Romance-language literary critic, best known for a 1948 study translated into English as European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages, but among his earlier works was a 1923 monograph on Balzac and a 1927 book entitled James Joyce and his Ulysses.

[7] Halász and Szerb (both 1901–45) became leading literary critics and historians with particular interests in English literature, with Szerb also building an enduring reputation as a writer.

[8] This rather exclusive ‘avenue’ in the XIVth district of Pest was in 1921 named Vilma Királynő út (Queen Wilhelmina Avenue, after the then-queen of the Netherlands), but after WWII was first called Gorkij fasor (‘Gorky Alley’) then Városligeti fasor (‘City Park’ Alley).

[9] Vilma Medgyaszay (1885–1972) was an extremely popular actress, operetta, and cabaret singer on stage and screen with close relations to a string of famous Hungarian writers up till WWII.

[10] Ulysses was first published in its entirety in 1922, in Paris; Finnegans Wake was written in Paris over a period of 17 years, and published in 1939.

[11] Makó is a town in southeastern Hungary, near the Romanian border.

[12] Hipparchus was the pseudonym by which Szentkuthy referred to mathematician István Földes, who was a close friend for several decades, though one may note that, among the many works translated by Szentkuthy, was J.K. Fotheringham’s 1919 paper on “The New Star of Hipparchus” — a star named after the tyrant Hipparch, son of Peisistratos (died in 514 BCE) mentioned by Pliny in his Natural History.

[13] I.e., Mária Tompa. The 2nd edition of Prae was first published in 1980. From working originally as a copy typist, Tompa became the director of the Szentkuthy Foundation, which she remains to the present day.

[14] Roughly, Budapest’s Champs Elysées.

[15] Parenica is a traditional Slovak cheese, usually smoked, which is produced in strips that are wound into snail-like spirals.

[16] “My bride-to-be!”

[17] Son of engineer József Kun (1873–1912), Miklós Kun (1908–2005) qualified in medicine and became a psychiatrist.

[18] ‘Face and Mask’ was originally published in 1962, and a second edition in 1982.

[19] Baldung Grien (born c. 1484–1545), a follower of Albrecht Durer, made a woodblock entitled entitled Witches' Sabbath (1510; prints are held by, among others, the British Museum, London, and the Metropolitan Museum of New York).

[20] Raoul Heinrich Francé (originally Franzé; 1874–1943) was a self-taught Austro-Hungarian who at the age of 16 became a member of the Royal Hungarian Society for Natural Sciences, going on to edit their publications from 1893–98. Among many later works of his own were the first four of a monumental 8-volume The Life of Plants.

[21] Charles Latham (ed. H. Avray Tipping), In English Homes: The Internal Character, Furniture and Adornments of Some of the Most Notable Houses of England, Accurately Depicted from Photographs (London: Country Life, 1st edition 1904).

[22] A 1928 MGM black-and-white film (running time 80 minutes), directed by Chet Whitney, in which she plays the foster sister of leading man Tim McCoy.

[23] Slightly misquoted (the actual quote suns “Ce qu’il y a de plus profond chez l’homme, c’est la peau”) from L'idée fixe ou Deux Hommes à la mer (1932), tr. by David Paul (Volume V in the Collected Works of Paul Valéry, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1970).

This excerpt was published with permission of Contra Mundum Press on behalf of Tim Wilkinson.

Translated by: Tim Wilkinson

Tags: Miklós Szentkuthy