Author's page

László F. FÖLDÉNYI
( 1952 )

Biography

1952 born in Debrecen
1975 graduates in Hungarian and English from Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest
1975-87 works for the Hungarian Theatre Institute
1983 doctorate in Philosophy
1987-91 freelance aesthete, critic, literary historian and translator (has translated several contemporary playwrights such as E. Bond, Fassbinder, Heiner Müller)
1988-89 works in West-Berlin as a guest of DAAD Berliner Künstlerprogramm
1991-present professor at the Comparative and World Literature Department of Eötvös Loránd University

Prizes
1985 Award of the Kelemen Mikes Kör in the Netherlands (Association for Hungarian Art, Literature and Science in the Netherlands)
1985 Zsigmond Móricz Literary Grant
1987 Örley Award
1991 IRAT Award of Excellence
1996 Attila József Award
1996 Soros Foundation Dezső Kosztolányi Award
2000 Jelenkor Publishing House s Book Award
2005 Deutsche Akademie für Sprache und Dichtung s Friedrich Gundolf Award
2006 Belleletrist Society s Award
2007 Széchenyi Award



Melancholy
1984, 1992, 2003

Földényi set out in his book with no less a goal than to write the chapter on Melancholy in Greek, Jewish and Christian History. Földényi comes to the conclusion that depending on what notions a certain historical age had about the relationship of the individual and the universe, melancholy as a state of mind and as a feeling was considered either a sign of the chosen few, or a form of diabolical obsession, either a universal mode of perceiving existence or an incurable, or at best curable, illness or one that had to be cured....Földényi makes the greatest possible mental effort when he does not wish to nullify the truth declared by one state of cultural history with the truth of another state of cultural history, but with these conflicting and connected truths he encloses, as it were, the dead space where in our right minds we cannot hope to get an answer, although we could never have asked the question without some hope of an answer....To use a simile, the revelation of Földényi s book can be compared to the moment when the astronomers of the new age recognised the black hole. -Péter Nádas

The Painting Come to Life. Visits in Galleries
1998

The book collects László Földényi’s essays on contemporary Hungarian art; 39 writings on 25 artists including Imre Bak, Ákos Birkás, György Galántai, György Jovánovics, Károly Kelemen, El Kazovszkij, Károly Klimó, Tamás Körösényi, István Nádler, Győző Somogyi and such legendary figures from the recent past of Hungarian visual culture as Miklós Erdély or Tibor Hajas. Földényi does not consider art from an art historian’s point of view; the perspective of his essays can perhaps better be called existentialist. By associating freely and stirring elements of art philosophy, aesthetics and cultural history, his description of the phenomenon of art, something that so has so peaked his curiosity, leads always to the personal and inner drama of reception. The essays published here draw the portrait of the artists as well as the author, who is only concerned with works of art that genuinely appeal to him. “When I say that Földényi is interested in artists or art that open up his own limitations or widens his own scope, that is, the mental point where one (or one’s soul) finds itself, I am saying that he himself is the envoy of existentialist art.” -Péter Rácz

The Spherical Tower
2002

This book is the culmination of five years’ theoretical inquiry and artistic experience in the fields of literature, philosophy and the arts. Földényi focuses on the crisis in European culture; when examining an oeuvre or an art phenomenon, he pays the greatest attention to the sources and expression of this crisis and the modes by which it is reproduced. With extraordinary sensitivity, he watches the unique and irreducible, individual traits of each particular oeuvre, each world or conception of fate, each place and situation. The book contains analyses of Lev Sestov, Petőfi, Kleist, Goya, Buñuel and Fassbinder, of the metropolises of Berlin and Budapest. In an interview Földényi explained the title of his book: “I must admit that if I could imagine it, I would never have used this mixed metaphor in the essay that lent the title to the book. But I did it on purpose, so as to illuminate a situation I find absurd, and one which I find characteristic of our present civilisation. A tower always stands out from its surroundings, let it be the steeple of a village church or a sky-scraper. By means of a tower one wants to be freed from the ground and lifted up. From the most ancient ages, it has had something cultic in it; one may think not only of a steeple but of the Eiffel Tower for instance, or, until recently, of the World Trade Center. Technical civilisation cannot make do without its cultic centres. But as opposed to a tower, a sphere and most of all, of course, the globe offers the opportunity for us to keep to the plane ground, to the surface, and that instead of moving vertically, we should move and live horizontally. With the title I want to suggest this horizontal-vertical motion taking place in two directions, which in theory contradict one another and yet are practised daily.”

The Mind's Dream
2008

László F. Földényi (b. 1952) was long known mainly as an art critic, albeit with a strong philosophical bent as in his essay collection A testet öltött festmény (The Embodied Painting, 1998). During the past decade and more, though, with collections like A gömb alakú torony (The Spherical Tower, 2003) and Melankólia (Melancholy, 2003) he has increasingly established himself as an essayist with a much broader literary perspective and a Europe-wide reputation. His latest volume, Az ész álma (The Mind’s Dream, 2008), covers the whole range of topics that have been of concern to the author. It manages to forge a striking unity from such disparate subjects as Europe’s political culture, Romanticism’s philosophy of art, the progressive legacy of Dadaism, the curious structure of Hungarian culture, and a mapping of locations that for the author bear a definitive significance.

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