Author's page

Peter HAJNÓCZY
( 1942 - 1981 )

» Isolation Ward (1975)
» The stoker (1975)
» Death Rode out of Persia (1979)
» The Bride of Jesus (1981)

Biography

1942 born in Porcsalma; adopted by Béla Hajnóczy
1959 employed as a worker
1962 finishes the Eötvös József High School per correspondence
1976 becomes a freelance writer
1979 visits London (this was his only travel abroad)
1981 dies in Porcsalma

Prizes:
1980 Füst Milan Prize, Aszú Prize

Isolation Ward
1975

A film version was intended for the Balázs Béla Studio. Hajnóczy wrote: “It is evident that the Social Hospice of Szentgotthárd (a small town of Western Hungary) is a sociologically valid representative sample not because of its extremities but especially because of its commonplace workings: we can mark the everyday life of a specialized industry, and this is only one place of the many. Therefore the artistic value of the work lies in the dry documentary description of the everyday life and the demonstration of evidence without any artistic exaggeration or overtly emotional approach.” “Péter Hajnóczy lived in a country where human rights were formally achieved but in fact they were nonexistent. His world as a writer, though, is not critical, but philosophical: it reflects the deep ontological realization of this tragic discrepancy.” -Tamás József Reményi.

Death Rode out of Persia
1979

His short novel is a brutally honest vivisection, where the protagonist analyzes his own circumstances and suffering with an unfeeling rationality, a highly autobiographical piece of prose, about a writer sitting in front of the empty paper looking at the sheaf of notes he created during his two-year long drinking spree, who realises his wife has forgotten to give him his anti-alcohol medication, and begins his slow but determined return to drinking, which will inevitably lead towards the dreaded delirium. His notes, his thoughts, his memories, and the drink-induced hallucinations are united into a textual collage, where alcohol is the main cohesive factor. Glancing at his notes from time to time, the writer recalls his past, the years he spent working as a mason, a stoker and a coal heaver, his rebellion against his family, the winter he spent in an unheated shack, the trials of hard labour, the difficulties of writing and the trials of alcoholism. The two most coherent and lengthiest events he remembers are both long summer days spent on the beach. The first is the start of his relationship with Krisztina, a young, demanding and extremely naive university student who picks him up in an open-air swimming pool; the second is about the monotonously long time he spends on the shore of Lake Balaton, while waiting for his lover, named A. Both occasions are starting points for affairs with women whom the writer will marry in the future, but the two are very different, as in the years elapsing between the two events the writer s social position deteriorates. When he meets Krisztina he is working as a clerk in the Institute of Geodesy, and by the time he spends the day waiting for A. he is a coal heaver who barely escapes prison after he is caught making an illegal shipment. As the day progresses, the writer gets increasingly drunk and in the process his consciousness becomes increasingly separated from his body, developing an almost schizophrenic duality. On one level, he is painfully aware of the progress of events; he knows perfectly well what is coming and contemplates his actions with a detached objectivity. On another level, he tries to convince himself with each glass of wine that this will be the last, which is absolutely necessary for the writing he is about to begin. His attitude towards hallucination is also ambiguous. The images he sees consist almost exclusively of very exotic and violent African warriors, Malaysian head-hunters, or visions of pornography. The writer is terrified by these images, but is drawn by their haunting familiarity, as these mark a stage in his loss of the self where decisions are no longer of consequence. Indeed there are no decisions at all, and total freedom is achieved while the personality and the self are dissolved by the terrors of delirium. One of the most familiar yet terrifying images in his hallucinations is the yellow-coloured dead city once inhabited by Persians. He knows that a sweet-scented river flows past this town, but the journey through the desolate buildings is long and tedious, and the writer knows that, this time, he will not reach the water.

The Bride of Jesus
1981

A sentence of the text serves as the motto of the novella: “Alcoholism, it can be easily comprehended, is in fact a rite, a lonely prayer without words.” In one of his diary entries from 1976 Hajnóczy writes: “My life as an alcoholic is a certain worldview, a mixture of political and religious conviction spiced with a bit of self-irony. I know only one true pain, alcoholism, which I have desperately offered to Jesus.” This is a kind of God-searching alcoholism, which elevates a deviant attitude into moral heights and presents it as a kind of freedom. Another predecessor to the book is the diary note titled “Alcohol”: “He is drunk when he doesn’t drink, he is an alcoholic all the time....but why couldn’t he build up and present his own self by a conscious acceptance of the role of the alcoholic which has surely been offered to him by society? Mornings. He is trembling and gasping as he waits in line before the cash-desk. The first drink saves his life, but nevertheless brings an urge to vomit. It somehow resembles the Holy Communion, just like he remembers it from his childhood: the dirt of the pigeons on the square before the church, his father, the long sermons; it seems as if right now he somehow incorporated God, who wants to enter his body in this manner, in order to make him remember his task, the things he has to accomplish in this world.”

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