Top 10 Books To Read About Hungary, Part IV

  • 24 Mar 2012 8:00 AM
Top 10 Books To Read About Hungary, Part IV
"As I said, one of these books has Hell in the title, and the other Lost. You can’t get much more Hungarian than these two. Enjoy.

7. My Happy Days in Hell, by György Faludy.

The title of this grim autobiography reveals the spirit that carried Faludy through a crazy and hellish life. He escaped the Nazis in 1938, to find love, but not really, in Paris, then when the Nazis take France, Faludy flees to North Africa and on to America, where he joins the U.S. army.

Ever Hungarian, and ever hopeful for his homeland to get on the right track, he returns, only to be imprisoned and tortured, then sent to a work camp where he is one of few who survive. Published in 1962, when Faludy had again fled Hungary to settle in the U.K. and then Canada, I would love to read about the rest of Faludy’s life. He spent 18 years back in Budapest, and died here in 2006.

8. The Lost Rider, a bilingual anthology (Corvina Press).

Hungarians are very proud of their rich poetry tradition, and rightly so. Ask any Hungarian to recite poetry, and they will gladly do so, and whatever they recite will most likely appear in this anthology.

It’s in both Hungarian and English, which makes it a good option to look over with a Hungarian friend in the evening. It includes such must-reads as 1848 revolutionary Sándor Petőfi’s Nemzeti Dal (National Song) and Mihály Vörösmarty’s Szózat (Appeal), which is posted on the walls of Hungarian classrooms much as the Pledge of Allegiance is (or used to be!) in American schools.

It also includes more contemporary poetry – check out my favoriteS, Sándor Weöres’ Ének a Határtalanról (Song: Boundless Space) and Attila József’s A Dunánál (By the Danube). You could read the latter during a visit to his statue, next to Parliament by the Danube…"


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