ENDRE ADY

endre adyIntroduction

Endre Ady (1877-1919), a legendary figure in Hungarian literature, was born in the remote village of Érmindszent in the Austrian-Hungarian Empire (now Romania). His father was impoverished landed gentry, and his mother came from a long line of Calvanist ministers, but Ady took to women and drink before leaving college.

After a brief flirtation with law school, he settled as a journalist in Debrecen. His first book of verse appeared in 1899, and from 1900 to his death in 1919, Ady wrote poetry constantly while drifting from one newspaper to another, often as foreign correspondent. In 1903 he met Adél Brül, the cultured wife of a lawyer, who became his inspiration his Leda, and with whom he lived in Paris for much of the 1904-12 period. When Adél finally left him, and after more affairs and sanatorium treatment, Ady married a young girl, Bertuka Boncza, and retired to Transylvania. Even here his nervous temperament was not at peace, and, weakened by drink, he died of pneumonia in Budapest in January 1919, a few months after being elected Chairman of the Vörösmarty Academy.

Ady produced a large body of work: over 1000 poems in ten books, plus numerous short stories and articles. He travelled widely, and between 1908 and 1919 was closely associated with the journal Nyugat, which featured some of the best writing of the period. The contemporary nature of Ady's contributions kept him in the public eye as someone who advocated modernity and bewailed the backwardness of his country and its disastrous politics. The slaughter of WWI, and the belligerence of its combatants, particularly horrified Ady, and he made many enemies in the conservative classes. His language was equally uncompromising: he used melancholy images in the Symbolist manner, but gave them a sharper and more topical edge. He founded no school, but greatly enlarged what Hungarian poetry could say. The best known of his poems include At the Gare de L'Est, Upward Thrown Stone, Blood and Gold, In an Old Wagon and Beautiful Farewell Message, the last two dealing with his tormented relationship with Leda.

Hungarian literature is not well known outside the country and émigré circles. The Hungarian Poetry section of The New Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics (1993) is fuller than anything available in English on the Internet. But among more important Hungarian poets should be mentioned Ferenc Kölcsey (1790-1838) and Mihály Vörösmarty (1800-55) of the Romantic period, and Sándor Petöfi (1823-48), whose patriotic and narrative poetry is still a favourite. Árpád Tóth (1886-1928) and Gyula Juhász (1883-1937) were both Symbolist or Art Nouveau poets. Very different were Mihály Babits (1883-1941) and Dezsö Kosztolányi (1885-1936): one a conservative member of the intelligentsia and the other the successful author of tender and musical pieces. Free verse, anarchism and expressionism emerged during WWI ( Kassák, Szaó, Fodor, Fenyö and Áprily) and the outstanding poet between the wars was Attila József (1905-37) who assimilated surrealism and expressionism to take proletarian poetry to new heights. Hungarian poetry has been even more diverse since WWII, particularly in the flight from Soviet hegemony.

Suggestion: The Colonnade of Teeth: Modern Hungarian Poetry Edited by George Gomori and George Szirtes. Bloodaxe. 1996. $15.50.

Modern Hungarian poetry translated by several hands, many of them well known. Bloodaxe Books is among the best of UK poetry publishers.

Learning Hungarian

Hungarian can be learnt from books, tapes and CDs, available at multilingual books, vistawide, worldwidelearn,

Free lessons and material are at magyarora, search language and ectaco.

Hungarian-English-Hungarian online dictionaries are at: freedict, foreign word, transylvania, ectaco, translation guide and language automation.

Hungarian books can be purchased at hungarian bookstore, bestbookbuys, and cer bookshop.

Some useful language exchanges: friends abroad, xlingo, mylanguage exchange, polyglot learn language, and lingozone.

Hungarian Poetry is not well known outside the country and émigré circles. The Hungarian Poetry section of The New Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics (1993) is fuller than anything available in English on the Internet.

But among more important Hungarian poets should be mentioned Ferenc Kölcsey, Sándor Petöfi, Árpád Tóth, Mihály Babits, Dezsö Kosztolányi, Kassák, Szabó and Attila József.

For anthologies of Hungarian poetry try the American Hungarian foundation, Hungarian bookstore, Treasury of Hungarian Love Poetry, Quotations and Proverbs by K Gatto (1996), Magyar Poetry (1908) and Modern Magyar Lyrics (1926) both edited by W. Loew, J. Horváth's A Little Treasury of Hungarian Verse (1947) and M. Vajda's Modern Hungarian Poetry (1977).

Twentieth century and contemporary Hungarian poetry can also be found in contemporary Hungarian literature, Hungarian literature online and geometry listings.

Much of literary criticism is in Hungarian or Russian, but P. Rákov's Rhythm and Meter in Hungarian Verse (1966) and A. Karátson's Le Symbolisme en Hongrie (1969) may be useful.

Endre Ady

Information on Endre Ady can be found at and encyclopedia.com.

The best known poems include At the Gare de L'Est, Upward Thrown Stone, Blood and Gold, In an Old Wagon and Beautiful Farewell Message.

 

C. John Holcombe   |  About the Author    | ©     2007 2012 2013 2015.   Material can be freely used for non-commercial purposes if properly referenced.