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Ádám NÁDASDY
( 1947 )

Biography

1947 born in Budapest
1965 graduate of the Toldy Ferenc Secondary School in Budapest
1970 receives diploma in English and Italian at Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest
1970-1972 secondary school teacher
1972 teaches linguistics at the School of English and American Studies of Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest; senior assistant professor (1978), senior lecturer (1995), head of department (1997-2003)
1973 takes part in a three-week course of applied linguistics in reading
1975 postgraduate studies in Cambridge
1976-1980 completes his studies as an Iranian major at Eötvös Loránd University
1982 his first poem appears in the journal Mozgó Világ (Revolving World)
1987 studies at Stanford University
1994 habilitas in linguistics

Awards
1990 Tibor Déry Award
1993 Graves Award
1997 Széchenyi Grant for Professors
2000 Milán Füst Award
2003 For Budapest Award
2003 Belleletrist Society s Award
2005 Laurel Wreath of the Hungarian Republic

The Skin and the Parts of the Day
1995

A bőr és a napszakok (The Skin and the Parts of the Day), 1995 Ádám Nádasdy was already 37 years old when his first book of poems appeared; he has quickly achieved a position as an intellectual poet of a special diction and sensibility. He wrote of his first volume’s playful subtitle, Almost every poem of Ádám Nádasdy 1976-1995, “One of my friends gave the title to the collection, saying that most poems are about the skin and the parts of the day—it seems that I cannot write about anything else, and my work is characterised by this duality: skin is soft, the parts of the day are hard. Or rather the opposite is true: skin is hard, the parts of the day are soft.” I make a poor glow, with a lightless red or I flare up, a cold flashlight, sometimes – you can find no device for proper lighting within my head; my heart gives bad advice since it enjoys, like fungi, to live in a dark, wet silence where it can dispatch its threads into my body, and into yours. (“Negotiating with Nature”, translated by István Tótfalusi) Nádasdy has a unique sense of humour, a kind of sad humour, a grown-up man’s subtle irony, counterpoised by the supersensitive viewpoint of a child. Nádasdy’s descriptions are palpable and exact, yet swift (he can characterise objects or people with a few strokes of the brush); he is familiar with all the details of the world, but he aims for unity and perfection; he longs for perfect love and perfect life with a kind of adolescent determination. There are many references in his poems to co-ordinates, precision and centre of gravity, but these are all illusory, for he, as is his frequently used alter-ego, Oberon, is a poet, an otherworldly creature, whose wish and destiny is to fly above the heads of ordinary people and events.

Order Made My Way
2002

A rend, amit csinálok (Order Made My Way), 2002 The title poem presents the order of the poet as a dangerous one: it resembles the order a terrorist makes to cover his tracks. A poet always deals with flammable material, and especially so when he is as disarmingly sincere and plain-spoken as Nádasdy: in the opening prose poem of this volume (“The Fiddle of God”) he writes about the love of his life, a man, “a Jew given to him by God”, who committed suicide. This book is not about childhood, but about being a tired and disillusioned adult; instead of great passion there is only everyday life that prevents playfulness; poems becomes a bitter reckoning.

One Should be Thin
2005

Soványnak kéne lenni (One Should be Thin) 2005 The title poem tells of the advice an old psychologist gave to the poet; he said that one should be thin (both in a bodily and spiritual sense) in order to be able to understand and control human emotions and sentiments. This volume concentrates on remembering things. The most characteristic texts in the volume are about the objects of an era passed (a typewriter rubber, a wardrobe, a toy train) as seen through the eyes of a hypersensitive child: The toy train kept on jumping off the tracks, gave fierce electric shocks, and you could never properly change its switch-points over. My daddy brought it from the Soviet Union.… A violent thing, a Soviet Union thing, it knew no small gradations. It stood still or raced; smashed things, or rolled over like a dying bug. I couldn’t find a brake, of course. Even my big brothers’ German train-set didn’t have that. Unnerved, I chose to just push it around by hand, pondering all the while on global politics.” (“The Toy Train”, translated by David Hill) Nádasdy thus returns to an age when the poet still believed in magic, to being a weightless Oberon-figure. He hopes that his observations will catch the reader’s attention. The critics were deeply touched by the descriptions and the tone of the poems. “I am half a generation younger than he, and still I recognize his objects, his feelings, his family.” -István Kemény, poet

That Taste
2007

The titles of the five cycles that comprise this volume are entitled, amusingly enough, the first, second, third, fourth and fifth season. These draw on insignificant episodes of which daily life is made up: a childhood adventure in a hotel, a leather-upholstered ebony-wood chair by the writing desk, cleaning a fridge (why would one do that?), the swinging of a candelabra (how does it do that?), even an impromptu sketch of the Italian national character. The recollections are crystal-clear, the tone intelligently resigned and good-humouredly downbeat. He is able to see some good even in Hungary of the Fifties (grandma’s heating stove or the singing of the national anthem at Sunday mass—“not allowed otherwise on account of God”). What he writes down will at least endure. “I… I’m not subjectively objective but objectively subjective. About myself, meticulous” writes the author. “The narrative voice in Ádám Nádasdy’s poems is sentimental, thin-skinned, human in his lying low, his need for love and his headstrongness.” Gabriella Györe, litera.hu

Sweating Statues: Collected and New Poems
2010

The human body has an entirely different place, and value, in the poetry of Ádám Nádasdy (b. 1947), whose decades of creative achievement in his native land have now come together in a volume by an artist at the height of his powers. A noted linguist, literary scholar, university professor, and literary translator, Nádasdy has seen his poetic career unfold slowly, by degrees. His newest volume, Sweating Statues (Verejték van a szobrokon), includes previously published and new poems alike. And so we can trace the development of Nádasdy’s oeuvre from its early days right up to the present. We see the steps he has taken, the directions he has pursued. The book’s apt title immediately conjures up Nádasdy’s two greatest and most personal themes: the erotic and culture; or, put another way, the “culture of erotics” and the “erotics of culture.” Just as the biological, natural vapor of sweat precipitates upon the artificially, artistically, and yet material body of a statue, the statue, as if through its pores, seems to turn seductive, nay, erotic. “The borderline between porn / and public exhibition is fine.” To fully understand and appreciate Ádám Nádasdy’s work it should be noted that he was among the first public figures in Hungary to come out of the closet. While this motif continually surfaces in his poems, he does take care not to fall captive to politics by excluding a whole range of other motifs and literary concerns. Indeed, even as he immortalizes the singular images of the love between those of the same sex in unforgettable lines (“A two-Adam Garden of Eden”), he is in fact conveying the universal experience of love (with gender-neutral, Hungarian pronouns at that): “I am on edge. No, not about whether he loves me / because of course that’s certain. But where he is. / Simply where he is.” Few know the desert of love better than Nádasdy. And while he knows it from the inside, in this remarkable volume he maps out this desert for us all.

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