BOOK LAUNCH: ‘SUNFLOWER’ BY GYULA KRÚDY - Thurs. Sept 20, 2007 Hungarian Cultural Center

The Hungarian Cultural Center presents BOOK LAUNCH: ‘SUNFLOWER’ BY GYULA KRÚDY Presented by John Lukacs DATE: Thursday, September 20, 2007, 7:00pm.
PLACE: Hungarian Cultural Center, 447 Broadway, 5th Floor, NYC

Gyula Krúdy is a marvelous 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 into passion and madness.


In Sunflower young 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 force 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 desire.

Sunflower is the perfect introduction to the world of Gyula Krúdy, a genius as singular as Robert Walser, BrunoSchulz, or Joseph Roth. Please join us as author John Lukacs and John Batki [translator] discuss the latest translation of this extraordinary writer and and a full presentation of his life and work in the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy.


Gyula Krúdy's luminous and willful pastoral, peopled with archaic, semi-mythical figures—damned poets and doomed aristocrats, dreamily erotic hetaerae and rude country squires—is pure fin-de-siècle, art
nouveau in prose...

— The Hungarian Quarterly

[Krudy's] literary power and greatness are almost past comprehension...Few in world literature could so vivify the mythical in reality...With a few pencil strokes he draws apocalyptic scenes about sex, flesh, human cruelty and hopelessness.

— Sándor Márai

About the Author

Gyula Krúdy (1878-1933) was born in Nyíregyháza in northeastern Hungary. His mother had been a maid for the aristocratic Krúdy family, and she and his father, a lawyer, did not marry until Gyula was seventeen. Krúdy began writing short stories and publishing brief newspaper pieces while still in his teens. Rebelling against his father's wish that he become a lawyer, he worked as a newspaper editor for several years before moving to Budapest. Disinherited, Krúdy supported himself, his wife (a writer known as Satanella), and their children by publishing two collections of short stories, found success with the publication of Sinbad's Youth in 1911. Sinbad, a ghostly lover who has only his name in common with the hero from the Arabian Nights, became a signature character and figured in stories written throughout Krúdy's life. Krúdy's novels about contemporary Budapest proved popular during the turbulent years of the First World War and the Hungarian Revolution, but his incessant drinking, gambling, and philandering left him broke and led to the dissolution of this first marriage. During the late 1920s and early 1930s, Krúdy suffered from declining health and a diminishing readership, even as he was awarded Hungary's most prestigious literary award, the Baumgarten Prize. Forgotten in the years after his death, Krúdy was rediscovered in 1940, when Sándor Márai published Sinbad Comes Home, a fictionalized account of Krúdy's last day. The success of the book led to a revival of Krúdy's works and to his recognition as one of the greatest Hungarian writers.

About the Presenter

John Lukacs was born in Budapest in 1924. He has written twenty-five works of history and criticism, including Budapest 1900: A Historical Portrait of a City and Its Culture; Historical Consciousness: Or, The Remembered Past; The Duel: The Eighty-Day Struggle Between Churchill and Hitler; and, most recently, George Kennan: A Study of Character.

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