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Biography

1888 born in Budapest
1896 father dies
1909 first poems in Nyugat
1912 receives degree in Law, begins career as a teacher
1913 first book of poems
1920 beginning of political persecution
1928 spends six months in Baden-Baden in Dr. Grodeck s sanatorium
1935-42 completes novel The Story of My Wife
1948 wins Kossuth Prize
1957-66 collected works published
1965 nominated for the Nobel Prize
1967 dies in Budapest

You Cannot Change It
1913

In his early poems, Füst shocked his critics with his free verse, his bizarre, robust poems resembling “enormous petrified lava formations” characterised by dark surrealistic imagery, recalling the tone of laments, psalms and dirges. Listen to me O youth. Remember the old Greek who lifted Both hands like a statue and calling for his youth to return to him Cast that Aeschylean curse on the one who gave old age to the living. Half blind he stood on the hill, wrapped round the radiant light, his hair blown back with the wind and The tears coming down from his stammering eyes at the steep feet of the Deity; (from “Old Age”, translated by Edwin Morgan) “Every single poem of Füst’s is as if it is meant to recall a never-seen land, a never-known world, a never-lived moment, and yet this has existed within us, it is the story of our times. They are non-recurring, non-repeatable, they grab our entire sensitivity....His poems, including the very first ones, show such a singular formation, similar to nothing existing previously, that even within contemporary world literature they have but few and remote relatives. The endless length of the lines of his poems, with the biblical aspect and melody, recall the flooding of Saint-John Perse; the anti-subjectivity always hiding behind the tragic of grotesque masks of remote cultures coincides with the aims of a T. S. Eliot or Constantinos Cavafis.” -György Somlyó “Füst’s lyre is a single-stringed instrument; his poems give the overall impression of a chanting, wailing man, obsessed by a constant fear of persecution, embittered and always on the verge of total despair, but who survives with pathetic heroism in an apparently insane world.” -Lóránt Czigány, translator and historian

Unhappy Ones
1923

The play was praised for its naturalism, although in fact it was an experiment in modern drama. As a dramatist, Füst remained unperformed for decades, but, just a few years before his death, his plays were staged to much acclaim.

The Story of My Wife
1942

This outstanding novel is the story of love and jealousy, completed after seven years of strenuous work and discipline reminiscent of Flaubert s stylistic precision. Füst noted, My form is such that I must not get too well acquainted with what I choose as the object of my art because the knowledge of reality restricts my imagination, impedes its free movement; thus I can write only of things which I do not know well enough, because what is far from me stimulates me, and moves my imagination....The French critics found my descriptions of Paris faithful and exact though, due to the peculiar whim of my fate, until this very day I have never been to Paris, nor to London, neither to the East Indian Islands, and yet some travellers praise even my writings on Malayans. Füst s previous novels focused on the early phases of love affairs, the fundamental problem being: Will they or won t they be wed? The Story of My Wife follows this phase. At this point, after the marriage, what other disquieting questions can arise: Should I cheat on her? Does she cheat on me? The trails leading to the conjugal bed may now be pointing to other beds. What latter-day novelists do is follow in the tracks of these wayfarers of love. In the literature of jealousy, Milán Füst s novel is a basic text...During the years when he immersed himself in this novel, Füst must have now and then skimmed the papers. World War II was in the making; the pressure all around kept mounting. But the solitary giant averted his eyes. He defended himself against scandal by ignoring it. By creating a world of true feeling in place of the real world. He simply had to protect literature from politics. In a filthy age he wanted to write pure fiction. And he succeeded; The Story of My Wife is pure, honest fiction. -György Konrád

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