There is no doubt that the artist can only win recognition before posterity in the first and the last place through his works, but it is equally doubtless that if literary history thinks in a truly historical kind of way, the life of a writer must also be seen as one of his works: the writer is not only the paper printed full of text, he is also the symbolic flower and fruit of history, his body, his illnesses, his human struggles are works no less than his poems or his plays.
I produced a list of the six most popular basic themes to be found in lyrical poetry, ranking them, as I went along, in order of frequency. These were the candidates: 1. You are beautiful and I love you; 2. You don’t love me; 3. I don’t love you; 4. I am immortal; 5. Carpe diem; 6. The changes of the seasons.
In 1958, somebody - the name is unimportant - his face beaming, tells his wife that it says in the newspaper Jóska Gáli has been sentenced to death, that is the József Gáli who was later to make a name for himself as a translator, whom his friend had last seen fourteen years before, when they were being herded into railroad trucks. The wife asks why he is so happy that Jóska Gáli has been sentenced to death. Answer: because that means he is alive!