Monday, January 11, 2016

MopDog Monday: Hungarian Literature for your 2016 Reading Challenge needs

Are you doing a reading challenge in 2016?

Recently I have seen more than one article about reading diversely. There was even a TED talk about reading a book from every country in the world. So, in case you are one of the people venturing into World Literature this year, here is your helpful little guide to Hungarian lit available in English. I don't aim to make a full list (although it wouldn't be as long as you think, sadly), I just want to give you some options that you might not come across otherwise.

Happy reading!

Nobel winners
We have exactly one! Awarded in 2002, "for writing that upholds the fragile experience of the individual against the barbaric arbitrariness of history."

Fatelessness, by Kertész Imre (Random House, 2004) (Holocaust novel)

Mandatory reading in Hungarian schools
(I have written earlier about our mandatory readings in World Literature.)
NOTE: Some of these are actually free on Kindle or online! See links.

The Eclipse of the Crescent Moon by Gárdonyi Géza (historical fiction about the Turkish wars)
The Baron's Sons by Jókai Mór (historical fiction about the 1848 Revolution)
The Man with the Golden Touch by Jókai Mór (novel that is... hard to explain, I probably blanked it out)
Please, Sir! by Karinthy Frigyes (collection of short, humorous sketches about school at the turn of the last century)
The Viceroy by Katona József (historical drama about the queen that we hacked to pieces) (also an opera)
The Tragedy of Man by Madách Imre (dramatic poem about Adam and Eve getting a flash-forward of history)
The Siege of Sziget by Zrínyi Miklós (Baroque epic about an epic siege during the Turkish wars)
Csongor and Tünde by Vörösmarty Mihály (A fairy tale - based drama in verse)
One Minute Stories by Örkény István (short, sometimes sarcastic, sometimes humorous stories)

Poetry
(Hungarian poets are not generally well-known for being happy-go-lucky)

Petőfi Sándor (selected poems available free online as well) - probably our most famous poet, died during the 1848-49 Revolution at the age of 23. Lots of patriotic and drinking songs.
Radnóti Miklós - gorgeous poetry, great empathy, died young during the Holocaust
József Attila - very famous poet, very troubled person, suicide by train
Ady Endre - similarly famous, beautiful poetry, with a couple of famous muses
Faludy György - brilliant poet, translator, life artist

For more comprehensive collections including multiple poets, read:
Eight hundred years of Hungarian poetry
Turmoil in Hungary: 20th century Hungarian poetry

Female authors
(We are shamefully low on female authors included in the curriculum, and even worse off in English translations)

Pretty much anything by Szabó Magda that you can find in English
(For female poets, see the collections above)

Actually good books that are not mandatory reading

The Gold Coffin by Móra Ferenc (Roman-era Christian historical novel and cute love story)
Pretty much anything by Szerb Antal (but especially Love in a Bottle, a collection of short stories)
Slave of the Huns by Gárdonyi Géza (historical novel set in the camp of Attila the Hun)
The Adventures of Sindbad by Krúdy Gyula

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