Sunday, February 05, 2006

Hungarian fiction beyond Marai

Tim Wilkinson, the English translator of Imre Kertész, writes on translation and the state of translated Hungarian fiction. Wilkinson notes that only about two Hungarian novels per year are translated in the United States and Britain:

"While the fêting of Sandor Márai is all very well, it would be gratifying to see acknowledgement for more original writers of the recent past, such as Géza Ottlik or Miklós Mészöly."

It would be gratifying, but Hungarian literature and its proponents have done a pretty poor job, so far, of convincing the English-speaking world that Hungarian literature is worth giving a damn about. Apart from the success of Sandor Marai, publishers have recently tried to sell us on the genius of Peter Nadas' Book of Memories and Peter Esterhazy's Celestial Harmonies, two incredibly bloated, mediocre works. Imre Kertész, whom Wilkinson translates, is a fine author, but he writes mostly about the Holocaust, a topic to which entire bookstore shelves are already devoted.

The world can not be expected to care about the literature of an insignificant country of only 10 million people. If Hungarian literature wants to be acknowledged, it has to win readers over through sheer quality. Quality like Marai.


Anonymous Imola said...

Thanks! :)
So I repeat at the right place:

Here's a link to a page on Hungarian literature (other than Márai), published in "more accessible" languages:

3/02/2006 4:53 AM  
Blogger Erik said...

thanks for the comment and for reading the blog ^_^

3/02/2006 7:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Marai es para mi el mejor escritor de losmúltimos tiempos. Y el hecho de que solo hasta ahoran se le redescubra es un síntoma de la pequeñez de los "poderes" intelectuales tanto de su patria como de Estados Unidos.

4/14/2006 2:48 PM  
Anonymous Watanabe said...

Here's a link to the website of a Spanish publisher which has translated Márai's work "Füves könyv" into the Galician language. I think this is the first time this book is translated to any language.

Thanks for your interesting blog.

4/27/2006 12:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tetszetős weboldal, kár hogy magyar nyelven nem olvasható.


I like this site, but I am sad too because there is not any option to change language to hungarian.

7/19/2006 11:37 PM  
Blogger Ms. NOLA said...

Alfred A. Knopf is publishing Marai's "The Rebels" in March 2007.

8/02/2006 2:06 PM  
Blogger Cyril said...

Whatever you think about Hungarian literature, mate, your tone in this article is absolutely appaling. You dismiss pretty much the whole literature of a certain culture but you also prove that you don't know much about it either.

Your comment about the insignificant country and its 10 million inhabitants does sound a bit obtuse. Hungarian literature, or literature in Hungarian, isn't limited to present-day Hungary. Hungarian speakers can be found in great numbers in Romania and Slovakia, to a lesser extent Ukraine as well. Before WW1 Hungarian culture extended far beyond its actual borders.

Your tone is condescending, superior, and I imagine could be quite insulting to a Hungarian. And it makes you sound pretty uneducated. Sort it out.

6/12/2007 6:06 AM  
Blogger Erik said...

Hey Cyril,

I *am* Hungarian, which perhaps gives me a bit of leeway in criticizing proponents of Hungarian literature who expect the world to care just because.

I don't dismiss the whole of Hungarian literature, as you say-- I responded to Wilkinson's "the world should care about Hungarian literature" article with, well, show us why! Cause publishers and translators have done a terrible job so far, apart from Marai.

6/12/2007 6:23 AM  
Blogger Nagy Levente said...

Insignificant country? there´s no such thing, I guess.

A gonosz embernel egy rosszabb dolog letezik M.S. szerint, a buta ember.

When i read M.S. im happy that he ´is not that famous´. Im jealous when somebody else is reading his works. I hate his works revival. Tend to become a star.

/Imre Kertesz is one of the most beloved author for me (one out of the insignificant dozens), whose bad experience appears in his works. I can understand it. I love him./


1/19/2008 10:29 AM  
Blogger Zsolt Sesztak said...

English Hungarian translation

3/20/2011 2:37 AM  

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