Author's page

Iván MÁNDY
( 1918 - 1995 )

Biography

1918 born in Budapest
1945 co-editor of the literary journal Újhold
1948 wins Baumgarten Prize; after the Stalinist take-over, silenced for more than a decade
1954 becomes a freelance writer
1989 editor of the literary journal Holmi
1990 president of the advisory board for the György Rónay Prize
1991 member of the Budapest Magistrate
1992 president of the Széchenyi Academy of Literature and the Arts
1995 dies in Budapest

His prizes include:
1948 Baumgarten Prize, 1969 Attila József Prize, 1985 Tibor Déry Award, 1988 Kossuth Prize, 1991 Getz Corporation Prize, Robert A. Pritzker`s Hungarian Language Oeuvre Prize, 1992 The Book of the Year Prize, The Soros Foundation`s Life-work Award


Early novellas and stories
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Early novellas and stories The autobiographical The Spanner and Twenty-First Street , dealing with the experiences of metropolitan life, contain diverse atmospheric and impressionistic images from Mándy s childhood; the characters thieves and bums, as well as the ambitious are seen through the eyes of an adolescent boy throughout the novels. In the stories we find the typical mix of the neighbourhood, vendors, gypsies, bullies, as well as the lonely and the defenceless, who all long for relationships and love. Mándy s style is characterized by a neo-realistic tone coupled with rapid changes of scene and an excellent ear for dialogue. The portraits move from the realistic towards the surreal and the absurd.

Stories in the 80s
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Stories in the 80s In his later stories Mándy turned increasingly to objects and places. In the novella Baths, Swimming Pools he describes the atmosphere and clientele of the places referred to in the title. In another slim novella, Left Behind, all human presence is, quite inexplicably, gone, the people have departed and now all we have before is the landscape. It is now the man-made world of urban dereliction that comes to life and acquires a mind that remembers, suffers and mourns.

On the Fringe
1963

On the Fringe The dread and existential void of the 1950s, when the author was silenced and lived the life of an intellectual condemned to stay on the fringe (accepting every kind of second-rate work offered), appear first in The Wives of Fabulya, and later in Lecturers, Co-authors, short novels about writers and writing itself. On the Fringe, however, is a novel about the untiring coach who never gives up looking after the players of his third league football team. Once, he must have had a name of his own one day, thus the author introduces his hero Csempe-Pempe (this being a nick-name of dubious origin). Mándy s highly successful novel touches on the problem of existence.

Those Good Old Movies
1967

Those Good Old Movies The characters are world-famous in this series of episodes about the cinema of the 1920s, which, while belonging to the well-known Mándy-world, has additional documentary value. (The book was adapted into a highly successful film.) The world of the stories is seen from the boy s point of view. As is typical with Mandy, the background features only as one layer of reality behind the world of the imagination: the mythical world of movies as a boy conceives of it. Most of the stories or myths are made up by the boy; in one of them for instance Charlie Chaplin is trying to restore the shaky self-esteem of his brother, telling him he must find his own talent independently, as he himself is locked into the role he has created for himself but the brother still can do anything. The boy s father, a film critic, has grave financial problems. They live in a hotel room and are most of the time in debt. Apparently the father is just as good a mythmaker as his son. Without him, so he claims, great talents would have been lost. He knows important people, even if they fail to recognise him such as the innkeeper or are impossible to find like the restaurant owner or the old school-buddy who owns the cinema. Mándy portrays a world of the imagination, which has its roots in the rather dull reality of life and the somewhat predictable fantasy of the movies.

In The Draft
1992

In The Draft Mándy s last writings deal increasingly with ageing and death. In the Draft comprises a long title novella and several shorter pieces. The short stories of The Fly Hunter take death as their main topic, with the typical Mándyan touch of humour. These prose miniatures, études, finger exercises, offer an entire spectrum of narrative and reflexive texts: observations, descriptions, events, dreams, and analyses, personal mythology, fossils of a bygone world, dilapidated apartment houses, memory fragments, disturbing experiences, dream-images, visions and shadows, -Clara Györgyei.

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