Author's page

Sándor TÖRÖK
( 1904 - 1985 )

Biography

1904 born in Homoróddaróc (now Drãuºeni, Romania)
1919 studies in Brassó and Fogaras (Brasov and Fãgãras), drops out of grammar school; a physical labourer
1922 becomes an actor
1923 contributes to Ellenzék (Opposition) and Az Újság (The Journal) in Kolozsvár (Cluj, Romania), then (1925) to Temesvári Hírlap (Temesvár News)
1929 editor for Szegedi Napló (Szeged Journal)
1931 writes for Magyarság (Hungarians) and Az Újság
1938 member of the Petőfi Society
1945-1948 until its banning, edits the column "Holiday Letters" for Hungarian Radio, interviewing the world's leading scientists and artists
1951 editor at Tankönyv (Schoolbook) Publishers
1959-1966 editor, then editor-in-chief for Family and School (journal)
1985 dies in Budapest

His prizes include:
1933 Baumgarten Prize
1974 Attila József Prize
1980 Andersen Diploma by the International Board of Books for the Young (IBBY)
1984 Golden Pen Prize

Someone Is Knocking
1937

This autobiographical/social novel of twelve loosely connected chapters, which gave Sándor Török his first real success, is the story of twelve subleases. Sometime in the 1930s, a young man arrives in Budapest from Transylvania, carrying all of his belongings in a single basket. He moves from one sub-lease to another, observing the habits and fates of the people with whom he shares a flat. Remarkable things happen to him. A police officer comes to get one tenant and ends up taking the typewriter of the lodger the latter had bothered; another tenant murders his girlfriend out of jealousy; at another flat a prisoner-of-war son finally returns home, only to give mad orders to the whole family. Always for one or another reason, the central character must leave to find a new flat. Sometimes he is just fed up with the bugs he has found or with the constant singing of a flatmate; sometimes the landlord offers the room to another man. The hero watches people closely; he cannot help learning about all of these characters at the mercy of one another other in a small room. Some people are amiable and bohemian, others are unendurable. But all have seen better days, all are has-beens trying to get by and lease a simple room. Descriptions of them reveal the narrator's character as well, someone fond of people, but always observing them, just as he observes himself - with sarcastic eyes. Seeking his place, the young man progresses on with more and more luggage, and finally, at his twelfth stop, he is able to rent a flat on his own.

Kököjszi and Bobojsza
1939

The king of the dwarves sends two of his subjects, thin-voiced Kököjszi and thick-voiced Bobojsza, to Earth whenever a new baby is born. In this case, the baby is Andris. The dwarves sign a delivery certificate that assures his parents of 9 million dreams, 1 million songs and 64,000 tales; they help the parents to dream what Andris will be like, and dispel their worries. When Andris is born, and even later as he is growing up and encountering more and more facets of the world, these friends are at hand. Török never loses sight of the absurdity of the adult visitors, and portrays skilfully love and conflicts between the child and his parents. Lying, good and bad behaviour, fears, misunderstandings are all present - the parents are quite witty and clever, but when nothing else helps, the dwarves are able to solve or illuminate everything. In fact, they stand for the imagination, explanations and empathy in the child's life, just as they should in a good tale. At the end of the story, they give the little boy the Island of Memory where he can return even as a grown-up, should he be in trouble. When Andris's little sister, Panni, is born, the dwarves are assigned to her and become invisible to Andris. But they let him know that he will always find them in himself. Török's truest successes have been these merry and wise juvenile books found on the border of reality and tales, some of which (A varázsló - The Wizard; Hahó, Öcsi! - Hey, Kid!; Hahó, a tenger! - Hey, the Sea!) were adapted to film, directed by György Palásthy.

Body and Soul, Confidential Confessions
1970

Sándor Török, considered by many as a sage, collected his essays and confessions written for different occasions and linked them together in this collection of reflections. In "Confessions from my Youth" he strives to understand how one can endure life and learn about the things of the world with a sense of humour, cheerfulness and cleverness. He touches upon immortality, compassion, human behaviour and makes all sorts of observations. In the linguistically most exciting part ("Confessions about the Body") - as a result of having had to stylise the professional texts of a book called "The Human Body" - he offers semi-free associations (questions and doubts) about the connections of the body with material and thoughts; he comments on expressions and idioms referring to organs, writes about doctors and patients, the means of modern medicine, about blood and temperament (in Hungarian "blood-moderation"). The third part of the book ("Confessions about the Soul") is an essayistic autobiography. Török calls himself "a happy and miserable autodidact". On the road to "abandoning philistinism" and to finding one's true self, he mentions the influence of Paul Klee, Rudolf Steiner, Attila József and a Romanian peasant from his childhood. He looks back on his books and with a characteristic self-irony, and sums up his former ambitions: "At first I wanted to be funny, although I am not....At times I thrived to relate 'great issues' - casually -, but this also easily became false, even though no-one else noticed this as much as I did."

What is Anthroposophy?
2000

An artist of insight into human nature, Sándor Török believed in "knowing thyself". Besides his tales and essays, today he is best known as one of the Hungarian forerunners of anthroposophy conceived by Rudolf Steiner.

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