Author's page

Biography

7 October 1922 was born in Kolozsvár.
1949 graduated as a psychology major in Budapest and married the author Miklós Mészöly.
She specialized in diagnostics by playing and in thanatology, and worked as the psychologist of dying children and their relatives.
1991 Founding president of the Hungarian Hospice Foundation.
1992 Founding president of the István Széchenyi Academy of Arts.
1997 Founding editor of the Kharón - Thanatological Quarterly.

Awards
1991 Tibor Déry Award
1992 Book of the Year Award
2000 Jelenkor Publishing House s Award
2001 Hungarian Republic s Order of Merit - Commander Cross

Woman in the Frontline
1991

This novel is an objective still shocking confession of the author about her two definitive experiences: the last year of World War II and the failure of her first marriage. The authentic power of her memoir is due to the unmercifully precise sincerity. Alaine Polcz gives an account of the events that drastically changed her life, home, and profession, from the perspective of several decades. Although the painful memories recalled range from starvation to flight and death, the reader is not so much impressed by the horror of the experiences but by the clarity of the author’s reflections, the objectivity of her self-examination, and the calmness due to which she can rise above the level of personal suffering and feelings and is able to claim for a broader, deeper understanding. As the title suggests, the two basic problems of the hardly twenty-year-old protagonist are becoming a young wife and surviving the war. The two lines of the plot start and end almost simultaniously. Not much after the couple’s wedding the front reaches their hometown, Kolozsvár, so they need to flee to Csákvár, Hungary, to the mother of the husband. The alternating Russian and the German troops invade the place four times. By the end of the war, husband and wife are separated. The sincerity with which Alaine Polcz recounts the difficulties of her marriage, her naivity, the lack of her husband’s love or the terrible experiences of the war, is astonishing enough. But her empathy is even more so. While writing, she makes a constant effort to understand and treat as equal to her interpretation the possible viewpoints and reasons of the Other - be it her unfaithful husband or the German army murdering her friends or Russian soldiers raping her and other women. She calls attention to the fact that the victims of war she witnessed and her own near-death experience lead her to the profession of being the psychologist of people dying, and that the war forced her to move to Budapest, where her second marriage with Miklós Mészöly as well as her personal and professional life were accomplished to such a great extent that would have been impossible, had she stayed with her first husband in Kolozsvár. Alaine Polcz is one of the very rare authors who can make the reader believe that inner peace can be achieved beyond all struggles, and that human empathy and spiritual understanding are stronger than any suffering.

Your Life, Berta Bíró
2000

Alaine Polcz knows something that few people do: the art of paying attention to the Other, the essentially female wisdom of empathy, understanding, and love. This knowledge sets the tone of this book based on the interviews made with her friend since childhood, Berta Bíró, too. The way these two elderly ladies think together, bears all the important features that make other books by Polcz - memoirs, works on thanatology, travelogues etc. - so important, unique and memorable. The two friends meet in Kide, the home village of Berta Bíró. They recall their shared childhood and the following sixty years they lived separately, apart from the rare occasions for family reunion. Their lively recollections are not only open and confessional but also offer a tranquil understanding which is due to the great amount of experiences lived and reflected upon as well as to the distance in time and place from them. They discuss the facts and the unity of life and death in such a natural way that might be strikingly unusual for the generation of contemporary readers, and they face the progress, the moments, the fear and the beauty of time passing with an impressive courage. The elements of common, personal stories recalled bear several traces of the contraversial decades of recent Hungarian history, while the style of tales and the photos help to reestablish the atmosphere of Transylvania.

Order and Disorder
2004

Alaine Polcz treats the subject of order, an issue undoubtedly crucial to our everyday life, with the abundant experience and expertise of the psychologist, still using a plain and lucid language accessible to any reader. Taking authentic examples from her own life as well as from those of her personal acquiantances, she studies the concept of order in its common context, and also outlines its historical development. She does not aim at finalizing an abstract definition, rather tries to explore the changing nature of order, highlighting how different the ways of its realization and perception might be. Emphasizing the importance of subjective elements allows Polcz to point out that disorder ought not to be simplified to the lack or the opposition of order but can also be regarded as a certain version, distortion, aspect or interpretation of it. As in other books of the author, confession is never for the sake of her own self, and the psychological approach is far from being theoretical. The open-minded and systematic thinking about individual concepts of order may motivate readers to come to terms with their own versions of order manifest in their homes, lives, and world views.

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