Gyula Krúdy: Napraforgó



I hardly know what to say about this one Krudy writes like no one I ve ever read before although the thought came to me often that the dreamlike and et vivid way he writes about snow and cold and autumn beautifully offsets the way Gabriel Garcia Maruez writes about the tropics His skill at conjuring so many emotive images out of one scene is incredible His mind overflows with dazzling images I really don t know who is impressive the writer or the translator He goes on and on describing a moment or scene as if unraveling a ball of silk from which come strands each of vibrant and varying colour and he neglects none of them but follows them each to their end And then he will make a very concise statement that is so beautiful and sharp that it takes Crochet Pattern - Tutu Skirt for Onesie your breath away I loved this one in particular A glove pulled off the hand might feel the way Mr Pistoli feltMy thanks to Bettie for recommending this one to me I would have given it 5 except that I wished Krudy cared a little about plot but that s just personal taste Ifou like magic realism and prose that is poetry ou ll love Sunflower This is a novel about the death of Old World pre WWI Hungary but it feels less like a dirge and like a wake Krudy s prose weaves together a ballad of rogation and celebration in its conjuring of a great lost world filled with madcap midnight revelers besotted dreamers endless mystical bottles of wine and charmingly falstaffian men like Mr Pistoli who before attempting a seduction does only two things soaks his feet and clears his throat Oh and he occasionally returns home after weeks on the amorous side streets to tint his mustache Pistoli emerges as the book s lothario philosopher a beguiling cross between Dionysus and St Francis He embodies the biotic spirit of old Hungary both as the remembered image of lusty former life and a man who within his own sphere constantly remembers and re imagines his own past in pursuit of an always evanescent present happiness Though it s carnal it s not all carnival for a pall of loss and degradation brought about by the new world disorder hangs over this book The signature mark of Krudy s prose is his relentless employment of simile repeatedly evoking parallel images that both flesh out their referents but also suggest their incompleteness as when Krudy writes In the afternoon a fog settled over the fields like gray souls assembled to rehash the mournful circumstances of their demise The image of fog is enhanced by the simile but the comparison also suggests that simply mentioning fog does not suffice to awaken the breadth of image Krudy wishes to convey The abundant similes often summon images suggestive of an earlier simpler state of affairs the loss of which the book bemoans as when Krudy writes of one woman that she was a silent ueen as beautiful as memory itself Simile then works to suggest parallels between the older better world and the newer sadder one for even the most melodious lovers have a way of dying just like an old field hand Sunflower is not ultimately about nostalgia per se It s about the fantasy that nostalgia induces for we don t simply remember We fancifully inventively remember A chilling scene in the book s closing pages in which an apparently dead Mr Pistoli is seen standing in his grave his hand groping for help leaves the reader wondering whether the book indicts the kind of memory creative memory in which it constantly engages or whether as the scene might also suggest we bury the Pistolic spirit it at the risk of losing something fundamental about our identities Among the many powers of this novel is its combination of specific evocation of place and time and the general expansiveness it achieves by being like One Hundred Years of Solitude or Waiting for the Barbarians a book about a contained world that becomes a simile for other ones like our own Sunflower by Gyula Kr dy NYRB trans from the Hungarian by John B tki introduction by John LukacsKr dy has been hailed by his fellow Hungarians as not only one of the greatest Hungarian writers but maybe the greatest He has been compared to Robert Walser and Bruno Schulz not because of any similarities but because like them he is unclassifiable and his greatness has been described by S ndor M rai as almost past comprehension Given all the above the reader may be slightly disappointed by his novel Sunflower written in 1918 and published for the first time in English in 1997 Lukacs s introduction warns us about the difficulties to translate Kr dy s poetic prose not only because of his style but also because of the hidden allusions cultural historical that only a Hungarian can understand With an ambiguous formulation he tells the reader that the translator has tried and largely succeeded As I read the book I tried to find in my mind literary euivalents for it and the only one I came up with was Craii de Curtea Veche by the Romanian writer Mateiu Caragiale a novel written around the same time and hailed by Romanian writers as an uneualed masterpiece What these books have in common aside from a poetic archaic style is an atmosphere of fin de si cle of a gone world that the narrators are trying to bring back through the power of words The world they describe and which triggers their nostalgia is one in which men drink their fill and reminisce about past lovers in other words a world that is itself prone to nostalgic remembrance In this world the inn is the emblematic space of dramatic encounters a microcosm from which stories about other worlds unspool where an old woman spotted at a nearby table triggers a long story about a bygone beauty and the drama that had once surrounded her This nostalgia about nostalgia creates a dreamlike universe but this universe is far from being depicted as some kind of idyllic space on the contrary there is a crudeness and even an ugliness to the people in it The apparent contradiction between this nostalgia and the world that is its object makes me think that these two authors may be impossible to translate for an American audienceAnd this brings me to the issue of translation and to whether translating a book from a very different culture and historical time is possible In this case I think the answer is no not because translating the author s words might be impossible What is impossible to translate is what the author hasn t said and which is nevertheless present in the book a sensibility circumscribed to a certain culture and historical time The idea of a bygone world and the accompanying nostalgia may be to some degree universal in American literature Gone with the Wind is a great example but what differentiates an American and a Hungarian is that loss gives the latter a perverse pleasure Compare the spirit of Scarlet O Hara who undeterred by all she s lost declares courageously Tomorrow is another day hopeful that she can start all over again to Kr dy s characters who will do tomorrow what they are doing today reminisce about esterdayAdd to the above the fact that unlike most novels Krudy s novel has several centers from which radiate several stories For the first half a woman Eveline seems to be the main protagonist but then the focus shifts to her neighbor Pistoli who becomes the main character Pistoli is the incarnation of the old Hungary whose loss the narrator and the author deplores and with whom most American readers especially women would find it hard to iden. Gyula Krúdy is a marvellous writer who haunted the taverns of Budapest and lived on its streets while turning out a series of mesmerizing revelatory novels that are among the masterpieces of modern literature Krúdy conjures up a world that is entirely his own dreamy macabre comic and erotic where urbane sophistication can erupt without warning in.

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Tify an ugly Running Your Best yet impressive man presumably in his sixties who venerates the bottle takes himself for a philosopher and doesn t spare the reader his numerous witticisms thinks with nostalgia about the dozens of mistresses from his past and sometimes visits his former wives now locked up by him in mental institutions On the other hand the mating dance of cruelty between Pistoli and Miss Maszkeradi a wild woman and feminist avant la lettre is fascinating as is the relationship between her friend the suave Eveline and her suitor Andor Almos Dreamer who is indeed a dreamer The novel doesn t have a plot per se but a series of events which don t really develop toward a climax rather they go up and down and right and left until Pistoli s death restores a lost euilibrium and brings some hope for the future of Eveline and Almos Dreamer I never had much of a talent for simile which is why writing this review is making me as nervous as a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairsThis 1918 Hungarian novel was inventive shifting storylines and characters Vignettes were well told It s probably something that sh I could not finis h this book I read 29% First let me point out that the samples available from should NOT be only the introduction to the book The introduction is written by a writer different from the author You cannot glimpse the author s style from this I also checked the the very beginning of the book that can be read at the site This did intrigue me It was suspenseful amusing and filled with similes that I enjoyed I thought the similes were very perceptive Try this one on page 45 at dawn he would have stopped in at St Roch s Chapel where the poor nuns like white seagulls by the ocean s dark shore sat in the pews row after row saying prayers as adventitious as birdsongOne simile at a time that I like but when whole paragraphs are nothing but similes about a characterou do not even know well then my interest drops like a stone You even forget who is being described sometimes Here try this description of a croupier in a gambling hall on page 47 A dyed mustache meticulous shave pomaded strands of hair pasted across his bald skull like dark twigs on winter trees this was the croupier He wore a green bunting jacket and tight pants like landed gentry on a city outing He let the nail grow long on his little finger and wore an oversize signet ring bought at a pawn shop He was on familiar terms with everyone present for that was the style of the house His bulging frog s eyes took in his guests from top to toe the rock in his tiepin was the size of a pea and he wore his watch chain short in the manner of army officers His platinum capped false teeth smiled enigmatically behind blue lips This man was never bothered by the thought that outdoors it might be springtimeHe wore great big American shoes euipped with ear and toothpicks in a silver case a gilt backed mustache brush a a silver cigar cutter a pocketknife with a handle fashioned from an antler and matching morocco leather notebook mirror wallet and change purse his back pocket had a Browning automatic his lapel sportedI have only given ou about half of the paragraph This is all about an insignificant character in the tale Let me say this very clearly The beginning of the book aroused my curiosity and intrigued me Then as I progressed into the novel it went off onto tangents became overly descriptitve and put me to sleep I feel tricked What I read in the beginning is not what the book delivers I am giving up What a disappointment This is a New York Review Books ClassicOh and not only did I dislike the excessiveness of the details absolutely nothing has happened since the first chapter when Eveline left her home in Pest and moved out to her manor Bujdos Hideaway on the upper reaches of the River Tisza I have met three main characters Eveline Kaliman and Andor Alimos Dreamer and have been sufficiently informed about their ancestors with almost exactly the same names Nice and confusing A challenge if ou want that sort of a challenge All Eveline has done is left Pest All Andor has done is pretend he was dead and then sat up in his coffin Kaliman Eveline s former fiance tried to sneak into her apartment That was the exciting part in chapter one but he only stole a sprig of frozen rosemary from her garden Yes it is bizarre That is what intrigued me but the writing style makes it impossible for me to enjoy it Maybe one should rad it as poetry one paragraph at a time while ou read another book It was clear right from the very beginning this was unlike any other book I d read before SUNFLOWER is a fever dream violently romantic lush and crazy and demanding and bewildering and beautiful Its language follows that dream logic the metaphors swinging every which way every mundane act elevated to hyperbole And it s dizzying collective of charactersThere is a woman uiet and too beautiful and the two men who love her one a good for nothing lover hands long open to be granted her wealth the other an lmos Dreamer a long line of lovers who have killed themselves for mostly unreuited love And indeed Andor lmos Dreamer kills himself for Eveline but when Eveline rushes to his cooling corpse he wakens Of course he does There is also Mr Pistoli a Casanova now firmly middle aged and all the baggage of his past loves past marriages three of them his wives gone mad Mr Pistoli is in love with Miss Malvina Maszker di the feisty determined spinster Miss Maszker di is in love with a tree and would like to stay that way thank ou very muchAh but this is the best I can do for now Read SUNFLOWER Read it over weeks and months it changes every time ou return to it and that is never a bad thing for something so charged with life and language and the strangest ways people decide to live and love Read SUNFLOWER read read read I know I will again and soon hopefully soon From the sublime to the ridiculous Hungarian maestro Gyula Kr dy orchestrates his singular vision using prose of the art nouveau period to create a bourgeoisie tale of love madness fading dreams and poetic ramblings all with the feelings of a melancholic strangely erotic and dreamy fairy taleSunflower sees the weary hearted maiden Eveline leave the city of Pest and return to her country estate to escape the memory of a despairing love to the charmer Kalman she seems to be uite the girl with many others falling at her feet in an atte His big buck teeth protuberant bullish eyes lowering growling voice oversized meaty ears calloused knuckles and pipe stem legs altogether produced a peculiar effect on the females of the region For there are still many women around who will kiss the spot where her man has hit her who will put up with ears of suffering to receive a kind word at the last hour who will cut off her hair pull out her teeth put out her bright eyes clench down her empty stomach ignore her tormenting passion say goodbye to springtime beauty life itself if her man so commands Pistoli went about growling like a wild boar and women wiggled their toes at him to tease the monster Thus he lived to bury three wivesEveline is a country miss of Hungary a Hungary of bygone times White walls and cafes to dream of servant girls who wear red shoes to tempt the men into clandestine affairs S I live with a fear Each novel I read will be effaced in my mind The recall will blur and float into ether The inscription. To passion and even madnessIn Sunflower oung Eveline leaves the city and returns to her country estate to escape the memory of her desperate love for the unscrupulous charmer Kálmán There she encounters the melancholy Álmos Dreamer who is languishing for love of her and is visited by the bizarre and beautiful Miss Maszkerádi a woman who is a

S will be softened and removed leaving only vague blushes of recognition while fertile patches of perfection are lost to me forever Novels such as Sunflower are very supect in this regard There isn t much of a plot as far as any arc is concerned There are only images They are certainly elouent and incisive but they are but stills and miniatures Such taunts my seizured brain Here lies an honest man who had exposed only one woman to another one whom he loved as he loved life itself in outh when life was worth living Love and death often go hand in hand for death may be said to be the ultimate destination of sojourn of life which Laurus you love or death is just a phase in the cosmos of universe for the seeds of life spurt out of grains of death Nonetheless the mystifying aspect of death has been keeping us bemused since we understood the concept or perhaps we think so Love never dies it keeps coming back sometimes even from graveyard for those whose unfulfilled existence does not let them rest peacefully in the boneyard invariably find themselves lingering on to the thread of life carried through love since death itself is no impediment for love Pistoli to find some solace amidst his gloomy thoughts consoled himself by recalling that after all nothing base had ever really happened to him and so he had no cause to complain when a dark shadow like a bandit s glided past his porch It had to be man for it wore pants Pistoli howled out Is thatou Death The book is something which I never read before for it is so uniue so demanding perhaps like a feverish dream which suffused ou over with the glow of love and melancholy of life It is like a perpetual hallucination which is suffused with violent romance and is uite lush and mystifying The language of the book flows like a convoluted dream which may look as impenetrable at times however it reuires the patience of a lover to relish its true beauty It is not a realistic novel The dead recover ghosts cuckold the living and love affairs persist in the afterlife It is a like a eternal fiesta built upon eroticism dreams and magic an epic poem Youthful Eveline leaves the city and comes back to her nation home to get away from the memory of her urgent love for the corrupt charmer K lm n There she experiences the despairing lmos Dreamer who is moping for affection for her and is visited by the peculiar and lovely Miss Maszker di a lady who is a power of nature The plot wanders aimlessly natural fantasy blends with sheer sham Kr dy splendidly lights up the moving forms and corrosive shades of the scene of desire The references to death are similarly as unavoidable the jubilee is held under stormy skies and in the high breezes of breathing easy By turns obscene nostalgic droll and delicate skeptical and confident the novel s genuine subjects are the vanity however unavoidability of enthusiasm the torment and joy of memory and the grave that anticipates all of us She announced that she had always loved him and him alone just like a plant loves the soil it grows in Thus she consoled and prepared him for death giving much pleasure and gratification in the process The book is about death or loss of old world wherein memories are weaved in together to conjure up a mystical prose the past is invariably reimagined to find happiness in present The loss of old world paves way to the birth of new world however the nostalgia the events of the past keep haunting the new world per se wherein things moves waywardly as if some inner but demonic force is guiding them Essentially Grudy remained the painter of the dream world of old Hungary not of modern Budapest but the peregrinations of his per included some of the later too The narrative keeps on shifting throughout the book with meandering viewpoints and stream of consciousness which may remind one of the modernists One may also sense the presence of Kafkaesue elements as the author allows the dream and reality to mingle like we see in case of great Latin American authors However the narrative of Krudy has made its uniue place which is second to none and uniue in every sense Kr dy s style is built of imagery that halts ou at sentence s end to ponder what it reveals about the subject His prose is poetic and profoundly national soaked with history with images associations including not only words but rhythms which are Hungarian in nature The richness of his narrative is uite profuse wherein the metaphors are bombarded towards the reader which extend magical possibilities of the narrative The lyrical and deeply Magyar ualities of Grudy s prose makes it translatable only with the greatest of efforts unlike the work of superficial Hungarian authors His words flew with longing for the provincial Magyar Biedermeier of the previous century He would paint such scenes over and over with a magic of which the addicts of his writing never grew tired His incomparable scenes grew in his mind while he mused for hours half awake Yet they did not crystallize until he began writing He let his pen saunter amble canter away down endless roads and treelined paths laden with the honeyed golden mist of the memories and the old Magyar names of innumerable flowers trees ferns birds Words uttered unthinkingly absentminded glances careless gestures on the part of our fellow humans somehow manage to avoid the wise or cynical man bouncing off his outer wrappings whereas they seem to follow in the tracks of other people seeking them out from far like cats do certain women One of the uniue features of the Krudy s prose is meandering narratives as mentioned above however in uite a uniue way and effortlessly The initial phase of the book seems to be driven by women eg Eveline Maszkeradi who appears to be a feminist however as we move along the book the power center of the narrative swings towards Pistoli who represents the old Hungary who is utter crass et attractive The author is a master prose stylist whose poetic prose is built upon dream like scenes endless metaphors alluding to the Hungarian cultural and historical aspects to produce a fantastical experience that might come across as a like inventive memory to the reader as we experience in case of great Latin American authorsThe book does not have a plot per se but a series of events which keep on swaying and oscillating hither and thither that sometimes the reader may feel to be at loss to keep follow the narrative in general It is to be enjoyed rather than to be followed or assimilated Gyula Kr dy has been regarded as one of the greatest Hungarian writers perhaps of the greatest of the world He has been compared to Robert Walser Joseph Roth and Bruno Schulz regularly mainly because of his uniueness and his genius as an author as Sandor Marai mentioned few in world literature could so vivify the mythical in reality He was called a Hungarian Proust by critic Charles Champlin in The New York Times He wrote because he had to as if an inner demon is there which forces him to get rid of tribulations of life going in his head and forces him to disburse the anxious ordeals and what better way it could be than to write Had he been a writer he would have set down his dreams the mendacious acts committed in his sleep his conscious self deceptions his dreamland swindles he would have had enough material for a lifetime No wonder his dazed brain was reluctant to give serious thought to changing his way of life. Orce of nature The plot twists and turns; elemental myth mingles with sheer farce Krúdy brilliantly illuminates the shifting contours and acid colors of the landscape of desireJohn Bátki’s outstanding translation of Sunflower is the perfect introduction to the world of Gyula Krúdy a genius as singular as Robert Walser Bruno Schulz or Joseph Ro.

Gyula Krúdy was a Hungarian writer and journalistGyula Krúdy was born in Nyíregyháza Hungary His father was a lawyer and his mother was a maid working for the aristocratic Krúdy family His parents did not marry until Gyula was 17 years old In his teens Gyula published newspaper pieces and began writing short stories Although his father wanted him to become a lawyer Gyula worked as an edito