Author's page

László NÉMETH
( 1901 - 1975 )

» Mourning (1935)
» Revulsion (1947)
» Esther Égető (1956)

Biography

1901 born in Nagybánya (now Baia Mare, Romania)
1911 schooling in Budapest
1919 begins his studies at the University of Budapest in the Faculty of Arts, but after a few weeks leaves it for the Medical Faculty
1925 first short story published in Nyugat
1928-1943 medical examiner in various schools
1932 first issue of his one-person literary review Tanu (Witness)
1934 co-editor of the periodical Válasz (Answer)
1975 dies in Budapest

Major prizes include:
1951 Attila József Prize, 1957 Kossuth Prize

Mourning
1935

Gyász , Mourning, 1935 László Németh s novels are rich in memorable female portraits. This is a psychological novel, conjuring up a dark world resembling that of the Greek tragedies. The heroine, Zsófi Kurátor, is a young widow who cannot reconcile herself to the role dictated to her by village morals. In her self-centeredness, she confronts the world with defiance and becomes grief-stricken for life; the death of her little son seals her fate forever. She has been considered a real heroine, critics calling her a peasant goddess .

Revulsion
1947

Iszony , Revulsion, 1947 Németh s perhaps best, and certainly most famous novel returns again and again to selfishness and detachment; the central figure, Nelly, becomes a murderer, but she is finally able to account for her sins and finds spiritual and physical peace. In the triptych of Németh s most memorable heroines, she is the second after Zsófi Kurátor: the figure of the monster, the dark angel . The novel is the story of an unhappy marriage, the transformation of Nelly into the angel of death. Németh s breathtaking power of description of both physical and psychological details stems from his medical background, combined with artistic insight. As Nelly describes her marriage, she also gives a minute, realistic description of the Hungarian village and its inhabitants: the neighbours, the lawyer, the doctor, etc. There are sharp details about her marriage as well: her constant fights with her husband (he once nearly commits suicide) and her suspicious jealousy. She hates her husband, but is nevertheless upset at the thought of his cheating on her. In her all-consuming unhappiness, she slowly develops into a monster. Once, when her husband falls ill, she toys with the idea that he has died. But by all appearances he recovers from his illness, and when night comes, he wants to make love to her. But this time Nelly becomes truly enraged; she pushes a pillow into the enfeebled man s face and neither intentionally nor accidentally kills her husband. With the help of the county doctor she gets away with the murder. She moves to another place and later becomes a nurse in a hospital. In her hard-working loneliness, she finally finds peace.

Esther Égető
1956

Égető Eszter, Esther Égető, 1956 The third female protagonist in Németh’s oeuvre is this novel’s title character, who represents the figure of “the saint”. Égető Eszter is an epic family saga encompassing the first half of the 20th century, recounting the story of three generations of a middle-class family. The central character, Eszter Égető, is not so dark and cold character as her predecessors.

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