Author's page

Virág ERDŐS
( 1968 )

» It’s Good to Be (2000)
» Tales of Another Kind (2003)
» Bible (2005)
» Eurydice (2007)

Biography

1968 born in Budapest
1997 receives diploma in Hungarian Literature at ELTE, Budapest, mother of two sons

It’s Good to Be
2000

"Erdős’s prose is subversive; it shows the human tendency to abuse the weak, and quite large segments of society fall into this category, as symbolised by aliens: women, minorities, the handicapped. (“I travel on the red metro, Moszkva Square, Eastern Train Station, and suddenly, there’s an alien. (…) I was just wondering why people let him sit. These things should never sit down. (…) Let them stay, or fly, if they wish, these extraterrestrial bastards.”) As the back cover of this volume notes, "In this book anything can happen: the dead come alive, angels get caught on a fence, and our own mother turns out to be an alien—and perhaps we ourselves are aliens as well”. Erdős’s characters are never at home in the world or in language and their uncertainties and frustrations culminate in aggression against others or even themselves. The book’s title seems to offer a joyous or at least sentimental view of the world, but it soon turns out to be ironic. The sentence is not finished, but reads “It’s good to be poor (…) It’s good to be a policeman and it’s good to be a stinky bug, but in the latter case, unfortunately, you won’t feel moral superiority.” (“Version”) In her world everyone is immoral, and the oppressed demean themselves and take an active part in their own oppression. As one of her poems states: daddy o please tell me what’s good daddy I don’t know because I’m not a man I’m stupid I’m a woman I’m a cunt”, (“walking in memphis”). “The book is a radical collection of human fallibilities and a daring provocation; the author (as she herself confessed) developed a severe attraction towards dirt. The strength and effectuality of the panorama she presents comes from the provocative infantilism of the viewpoint....This first person singular is the speciality of Erdős, and has nothing to do with personal confession; instead, it’s a kind of lowest common denominator. This stylised way of speech becomes a kind of inner dubbing of the stupid and mean voices of the secret depths of common self-knowledge....She uses the technique of themes and variations to show how pliable identity is and how we treat the other, and the poor. Her writings in a way resemble the passionate intensity of the bitter satires of Jonathan Swift; she also converts horror into terrible laughter, and sometimes her texts show real, grim humour: every paragraph is a morbid life-story, a high-speed fate simulator.” -Erika Csontos

Tales of Another Kind
2003

Virág Erdős “is an extreme sport, you go find a sponsor and run your head against the wall. Virág Erdős is a natural disaster, twelve letters down.” (“Mendacious Tale”) The writer says that the stories are “strictly for those above 99”, and she doesn’t recommend reading them. The collection of stories (not at all for children) were illustrated by the strange and absurd drawings of the artist Gábor Roskó; the tales sometimes puts the figures of classical tales into contemporary situations, including modern stars like Hungarian singers or even Arnold Schwarzenegger. One of Erdős’ most memorable heroines is Kisgömböc (Roly-Poly), originally a character in a Hungarian folk tale, in which a little round pork cheese, unwilling to be eaten, eats up a whole village; Kisgömböc, on the other hand, is a bulimic young woman who swallows her family and then the whole galaxy only to vomit them out into the loo. In Erdős’ eyes our world is not only strange but also apocalyptic, and, as she says in an interview, “[I]t doesn’t stop at our threshold, and we are not passive viewers and victims of the horrors but also active partakers, and the scope of the things which are our most personal affairs is much wider than we suppose.” The critics have likened these writings to those of Lajos Parti Nagy, László Garaczi, Attila Hazai and Zsuzsa Forgács in their grim humour and manner making fun of the linguistic and cultural clichés deeply built into our ways of thought.

Bible
2005

Erdős’ style sometimes resembles that of the stylistic parodies of Frigyes Karinthy, but she does not mock certain writers (although she is willing to refer to the classics while subverting their meaning). She does, however, offer dark parodies of the “mean”, “absurd” and “pathological” world, that mixture of TV serials, ads and everyday clichés. “We sit up to our ears in the mud” she says in one of her important interviews. No wonder then, that “we become rude, arrogant, obscene and unfeminine.” The writer, therefore (whose name, by the way, sounds very romantic and feminine in Hungarian, for it means ‘Forest Flower’) must choose to go against the expectations of this macho society and write in a way that sometimes sounds like a psychoanalytic session full of free associations. In this play of hers, which was recently staged by young students of the Academy, she mixes topics of the ancient world and classical beliefs with the language and views of contemporary society.

Eurydice
2007

For her latest volume of short prose pieces—follow, for example Másmilyen mesék. (‘Tales of Another Kind’) from 2003— Virág Erdo½s has taken the figure, the fate and viewpoint of Eurydice as the focus around which to arrange her stories. Due to the unexpected arrival of Orpheus, Eurydice became of prisoner of the Underworld, and of myth, to the end of her life (or rather her dying days). Through he reinterpretation of the myth, Erdo½s manages to liberate her heroine, at least to some degree, only to confine her again between the covers of a volume of short stories, given that the first and last of the pieces here deal with Orpheus’s partner herself. In the first, Orpheus goes in search of his loved one to the prosecutor, but when Hades in the morgue points to the body of Eurydice, or the person whom he takes to be her, the lute-player is so puzzled that he flees, and moreover he does not look back even once! That may indeed be the slickest joke in the whole volume. In the last of the pieces, which is in free verse, no-one at all comes back for her, so she is left waiting in a fin-de-siècle bath-house in Budapest as illustrated in a period photographic plate. With Erdo½s turning her attention to the deserted and forgotten, the heroes and heroines of these tales, like Mary who gives birth to a pup, a homeless King Solomon, a despised Noah who is taken for a fool, a freezing Father Christmas all share much the same fate (or fatelessness) as Eurydice. Nevertheless, through the author’s humour the distressing circumstances of these figures are rendered grotesque and comic rather than merely tragic. Though some readers might find the stories a bit uneven, with pieces in free verse alternating with regular prose short stories and not all the quips being quite so clear, mostly the lively language sustains the texts and serves to keep Eurydice alive. It should also be pointed out that the book is further enhanced by the unmatchable photography of Lenke Szlágyi.

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