Author's page

Biography

1951 (26th of April) born in Budapest
1975-81 obtains degree in Hungarian Philology, and Librarianship at ELTE University of Budapest
1981-85 Editor of university journal Jelenlét
1983-84 contributes to Új Könyvek
1985 contributes to Négy Évszak
1986-89 contributes to Újhold Almanacs
1987-89 reader for Pallas Publishers
1989 founding editor of the journal 84-es kijárat (Exit’84)
1990-92 columnist for Magyar Napló; contributes to Lettre Internationale
1991-94 contributes to Magyar Narancs
1992 teaches Creative Writing at the Intermedia Department of the College of Fine Arts
2000 Chairman of Szépírók Társasága (Belletrists' Society)

A Herb Garden
1993

A Herb Garden Kukorelly selected a hundred of his poems for this volume, at times re-writing them for the sake of unity. This poetry can be characterised by both radical (neo-, post-avant-garde and post-modernist) innovations and an interest in tradition; both a merry playfulness and, to use the Hungarian critic István Margócsy s term, post-ironic seriousness; both a seemingly apoetical, fragmentary way of expression and the presence of grand, almost unspeakable questions. In Kukorelly s poems the issue is not the personal but the identity of the self, which is formally carried out in the floating, elliptic syntax. Thus paradoxically, the text built up from usual expressions, common sayings clear to all, becomes ambiguous and ultimately coded.

H.Ö.L.D.E.R.L.I.N.
1998

H.Ö.L.D.E.R.L.I.N. In the book the nine letters of the German poet's name provide an organizing concept: there are nine cycles, each one divided into nine parts signalled respectively by a letter of Hölderlin's name. The nine-fold imitational-variational game is both magic and ironic. Kukorelly's texts are in prose or in verse form, while the guest texts are given as a motto or inserted in the middle of the main text. The author provides their source and translation in an appendix for, as he explains, "I don't quote, I simply use parts of Hölderlin's writings. To read the book, it is not necessary to understand the German fragments. Nor to look them up. But neither to skip them; this is why there is this appendix. At first, I would certainly not bother with the translations, and then, later, or I don't know, I don't know what I would do."

Fairy Vale, or The Riddles of the Human Heart
2003

Fairy Vale, or The Riddles of the Human Heart Kukorelly's first novel (a peak in his oeuvre, according to critics) is a novel of memory, an autobiographical novel, a Bildungsroman, a novel about a father and a mother, a love story - and yet truly none of them. It is built on repetitions, textual variations and motives that probe the nature of remembering. The novel is divided into nine chapters, each of nine sections, with each chapter headed by a poem that touches upon its main subject. The narrator's girlfriend (C.) is herself a compound of nine different figures. This relativises the central dilemma, his relationship to love and to women (or to the seemingly irreconcilable conflict between freedom and happiness). The text incorporates fragments of two emblematic texts, Kierkegaard's The Diary of a Seducer and Tolstoy's Family Happiness. The title alludes to the eponymous narrative poem by Mihály Vörösmarty, the distinguished arch-Romantic poet, although Kukorelly takes an ironic stance towards sentimentality and romantic wish-fulfilment. The title also refers to the narrator's self-oblivious (if you like: happy) boyhood. The son of upper middle-class parents made déclassé by the post-war Socialist régime, the narrator's "fairy-tale" childhood and youth are strongly contrasted to the conditions prevailing in the Hungary of the 1950s, 60s and 70s.

One Thousand and 3, or The Heart Concealed in Women
2009

Endre Kukorelly (b. 1951), following the great success of his previous novel, TündérVölgy, avagy Az emberi szív rejtelmeirő½l (Fairy Vale, or The Riddles of a Man’s Heart, 2003), has picked up his subjective and abstract mode of relating his life story, his memoirs, and of writing about memory in a completely fresh register. It is fair to talk about its being a continuation inasmuch as here too the riddles of the heart are emphasised. But whereas the previous book delved into riddles of male hearts and, beyond that, also examined family happiness, this one emphatically looks at the hearts that are concealed, as thus not visible, in women, and the symptomatology of unhappiness. Consonant with that, Kukorelly has chosen a radically aseptic approach Written essentially with the myth and the speech position of Don Giovanni in mind (cf. Leporello’s aria: ‘Mille e tre’), the attitude to sexuality in book is not one of sensuality but of intellectuality, ice-cold reflexivity. Indeed, One Thousand and 3 is disturbingly cool and to that extent it may seem to run counter to the image of Don Giovanni that is associated with both Mozart-Da Ponte as well as Kierkegaard (who in Either/Or famously wrote about Don Juan in his essay ‘The Immediate Stages of the Erotic’, as well as about ‘The Unhappiest Man’). It is unerotic. True prose in which there is no room for any melody, or the only melody is shaped by atonality. The narrator who is giving us his recollections picks over his sexual life with bitter sarcasm. The sexual act itself is a mechanical series of movements and the partners are objects, to whom the narrator, unhappy in his desire, does not even give names, just numbers. It is a great virtue of the book that the repetitions, similar situations and recurrent reflections fit well alongside each other in this loosely knit, airy structure (most of the time anyway). The main unit in Kukorelly’s prose continues to be the striking, shrewdly and wittily structured paragraphing. Within the paragraph too he often plays certain words up to draw out their full range of meanings. A distinct line is taken by the bolded quotations extracted from other books—first and foremost Anna Karenina—which are here reinterpreted by being applied, aptly but often ironically, to situations in his own life. This is a prose work that could be seen as compiled from many details in the way that it organises memories and sorts out reflections. That is its way of showing the lack of a whole.

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