Author's page

Győző HATÁR
( 1914 - 2006 )

» Pepito and Pepita (1984)
» Golgheloghi (1989)
» In the Carcass (2000)

Biography

1914 (13th November) born in Gyoma (as Győző Hack)
1938 graduates as an architect from Technical University, Budapest; a pupil of Kodály at the Music Academy; first novel confiscated
1943 his novel Csodák országa hátsó-Eurázia is similarly confiscated, the author is arrested with the charge of seditious act and conspiracy, and condemned for high treason
1944 escapes from the prison of Sátoraljaújhely
1945 starts publishing
1945-1947 takes part in the UNRA mission, Budapest; as an architect, a colleague of Alfréd Hajós
1949 dismissed from the Writers' Association
1950-1951 sentenced to two years for the attempt of unauthorized crossing of the frontier, prisoner in Szeged
1951-1956 architect and literary translator (translates Sterne's Tristram Shandy)
1956 leaves Hungary, settles down in London, returning home for the first time in 1988
1957-1976 contributes to the Hungarian Section of the BBC and to Radio Free Europe
1960-1985 official tutor at the English Ministry of Foreign Affairs
1981- present most of his work published privately by Aurora London
1994- present member of the Széchenyi Literary and Art Academy
November 2006 - he dies in London

His prizes include:
1989 Alföld Quality Prize, 1990 IRAT Quality Prize, 1991 Kossuth Prize, 1991 Order of the Star of the Hungarian Republic with Laurel Wreath, 1994 Order of Merit of the Hungarian Republic, 1996 Salvatore Quasimodo Prize

Pepito and Pepita
1984

A love romance taking place right after World War II, or rather its parody enriched with fable-like elements, Pepito és Pepita is a novel of congenial linguistic inventions that may be difficult to translate. The geographical names (like Balatontündérdi vs. Balatonalmádi, something like Fairyland-upon-Balaton vs. Appleyard-upon-Balaton) are playful allusions; many of the characters have several names and epitheton ornanses. The figures are real, but marionette-like. Pepito, or the Harper, the protagonist, is a naive dupe in love with the mediocre, but highly ambitious actress, Pepita. The girl merely plays with him, as she embarks on relationships singularly for the sake of her career (and ends up in some dubious porn business), while the flutist Marian (Marinuola) admires Pepito to the extent that she is ready to commit suicide for him (is, however, saved). Her father, the concertmaster Mr. Jankóviusz, is a typical impresario. Together with his amateurish wife and the figures around them, they stand for the transition of the cunning from the Old World into the new one. The folk tale element is evident in the character of Bábika, the Aunty from the backwoods, who is at the same time Pepito's only living and quick-witted relative. Not at all incidentally, the story begins on Easter 1945, at the resurrection of the country, with three rabbits Pepito is talked into buying at the market, who play a crucial role in the action. One of them, Rabbitius Bunnius ("My God-Rabbit"), learns to play the harp. When he dies, Pepito eats his heart in a rabbit-goulash, but in vain, as the rabbit's art will not pass into him. By the end of the book, the miraculous tale turns slightly bitter, the protagonists fit into the New World, and in the reconstruction, Pepito and Bábika lose their shelter in a tower (perhaps a symbolic ivory tower). Győző Határ writes in the Epilogue, "Our growing stupid out of history is a natural process, it is true for every generation, and it would be silly to grumble reproaches: we have to accept the fact that whoever has only read or watched films about World War II, will not get the key words and the allusions, and for them this love story will be one-sided, together with the Great Story around the novelette, which swallows and consumes it." The "great story" is the beginning of a new life after the War, the world of transition, restoration, business, cunning and adapting.

Golgheloghi
1989

Győző Határ's chief work, this nine-night-long play, takes place in the year 1000, when the End of the World is supposed to begin. The protagonist is a humble picaro constantly deluded by all the smart villains. He is too good for damnation even in his Satan-seeking mad self-reproach. Golghelóghi (a strong but dreamy miller) comes upon a beautifully written page he imagines to be the Bible. When his 'Bible' is stolen, he starts wandering, then learns all sorts of trades and is almost beaten to death. Later he starts to serve the Bishop and the Emperor and has to learn that in the year of the Last Judgment, he has become the greatest villain of the world, as he has invented the "statium", the system constructed with violence and canonized by religion, which is built on plundering the poor and fattening the rich. Now his person is doubled: "Golden Golghelóghi" is a victorious villain, while the real Golghelóghi wishes to do penance and sets off to find Satan. His sins all fail, and even Hell pushes him out, but when he gets his 'Bible' back and wants to heal with its help, he learns from a non-illiterate priest that the book is in fact a blasphemous satire. He does his best to meet Satan, even spits into the hutch where the holy host is kneaded.(?érthetetlen) Instead of God, he meets only a potter, and chance in the grace of God decides that our hero should be saved as an angel, although he demands to be damned. Finally Satalael, the real Lord of the World, turns up and orders Golghelóghi to be condemned as an angel, and as the Last Day is cancelled, he should live on in the world as the first among the wicked. Győző Határ presents the Middle Ages with convincing linguistic archaisms and an almost encyclopaedic erudition (as is apparent from his huge epilogue). He has written a theatrum mundi, modelled on the miracle plays, Faust and Madách's Tragedy of Man. Although he intended it as a book play, all the parts are fully executed. Győző Határ condemns and mocks all religious and political-ideological doctrine.

In the Carcass
2000

Győző Határ's poetic oeuvre is to be found in three selections, put together from different points of view: A léleknek rengése (The Trembling of the Soul. Selected poems 1933-1988, 1990), a Válogatott versek: Határ Győző levelesládája (Selected Poems: Győző Határ's Mailbox, 1998) and A Karkasszban (In the Carcass, 2000), among which the last one stands out with its exact and surreal dream poems. Győző Határ's virtuoso poetry is characterised by the duality of a spirit experimenting both in verse form and in language, and a short-tempered, truth-seeking passion; the ease of the songs and the depth of philosophy; the playful and the serious, the satirical and the elevated; a creative linguistic power and the constant use of allusions. "Határ is a poet in all of his genres,- writes Győző Ferencz - as his fertile relationship with language and the intensity of his voice shows. The playfully interplaying stylistic registers of the Hungarian language are built into the sweeping melody of his poetry with a virtuoso flexibility. His poems melt the whole of Hungarian literary language into themselves; Balassi's variations of form or Pázmány's vocabulary are not some past memories to be enlivened, they are the present. Is it perhaps because his poetry, apart from the early Liturgikon published in Budapest in 1948, was born in emigration, surrounded by a foreign language, a place where the diachronic layers of literature suddenly ceases to exist, and from where the whole of Hungarian literature seems to be a synchronic unit."

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