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Ebben a rovatunkban egyesületünk munkájának tagtársi, olvasói és szakmai visszhangjai számára biztosítunk teret. Hozzászólást, bármilyen közlésre szánt szöveget az EKE-központ e-mail címére kérünk.

   Örömmel jelezzük, hogy 2003-as, A szétszórtság arénája című kötetünkről értő, értékelő, bizonyos kritikai megjegyzéseket sem elhallgató recenziót közölt az amerikai, Oklahoma államban – az ottani egyetem kiadásában – megjelenő World Literature Today című folyóirat 2003-as utolsó negyedévi száma. Szerzője Clara Györgyey, azaz Györgyey Klára író, esszéista, műfordító, a Yale University tanára, a PEN Writers in Exile amerikai részlegének elnöke – és tegyük hozzá: tagtársunk, akinek neve sok esztendeje olvasható férje nevével együtt az EKE-könyveket megjelentetők névsorában.

   Arra gondolva, hogy angolul tudó tagtársainkat érdekelheti ez az egyszerre (földrajzilag) távoli és (lelkileg) közeli reagálás, Györgyey Klára recenzióját – engedelmével – teljes terjedemében megjelentetjük honlapunkon. Ezzel egyúttal azoknak a nem magyar anyanyelvű tagtársainknak is betekintést nyújtunk 2003-as kötetünk szakszerű ismertetése által egész munkánkba, akik magyar anyanyelvű férjük, feleségük, élettársuk kedvéért tartanak velünk könyveink megjelentetésében.


A szétszórtság arénája: Négy égtáj magyar irodalmából. Gyula Dávid, Zoltán Veress, eds. Erdélyi Könyv Egylet. 2003. 262 pages. ISBN 91-973281-0-3

Nobel laureate Wislawa Szymborska, while warning us against forgetting, mourns the sad fact that „those who knew / what was going on there / most give way to / those who knew little / And less than little. / And finally as little as nothing.” A group of concerned Hungarians, headed by the enthusiastic Veress couple (of Sweden), set out to counter this prediction by providing a literary outlet for Hungarian literati (residing outside Hungary): one book a year available via subscription. This volume, The Arena of Diaspora: A Sampling of Hungarian Literature from the Four Corners of the World, is the thirteenth of the series. The first dozen books published only included writings from Transylvania. The present volume, entitled In the Borderless Homeland, s a rich compendium of stories, an anthology like no other. It does not strive for a comprehensive coverage of a multifarious, widely scattered minority literature in several countries; instead, the editors have made an attempt to map out representative Hungarian writings around the globe.

The result is an extraordinary collection of talent and scope, albeit understandably uneven: some sections reveal exhaustive research and careful selections, some are hastily put together and oversimplified. Still, the book glints like a moonstone with layers of erudite information and emotion, a subtle blend of stylistic mastery and moral depth.

Well-structured, the collection presents literary samples from twelve countries / regions, each introduced by a condensed cultural overview penned by various literary scholars, editors, historians, or experts from the locales, who also made the literary selections. The so called „inner” circle comprises countries surroundings Hungary, whereas the „outer”, the longer route, on which we are tracking the lost treasures of the mutual language, covers Western Europe, the United States, Canada, South America, and Israel.

From among the numerous names and titles, only random selections will be commented on with any specificity. Editor Gyula Dávid is heading the list by deftly depicting new Hungarian literature in Romania, demonstrating his fair yet melancholy thesis with tales by three diverse authors. Common to each short story is the utter loneliness, love of nature, and despair for isolation, themes that proliferate in almost all the pieces written in the „inner circle”. For instance, Serbian-Hungarians relate „survivors' tales” of the recent war; in Croatia, most write nostalgic „remembrances” of the erstwhile peaceful coexistence of the ethnic groups. Although their literature is virtually unknown, a long, overly enthusiastic introduction to the Slovenian section fails to convince, as does the contrived historical text as evidence. The Slovak section fares better: an excellent, concise foreword is followed by a gloomy tale foreshadowing the disintegration of Hungarian culture there. The poor, dwindling Hungarian community is the Ukraine sounds very active; the story depicts heartbreaking squalor and the miserable failures of people who try to better themselves. The general mood and atmosphere of these stories are interwoven with depression, hopelessness, and tragedies.

Hungarians, arriving in different times, are not too felicitously represented in the section on Israel. Scores of famous writers are missing; both the overview and the literary sample are rather superficial. On the other hand, the literary section and the fascinating introduction to the Australian chapter stand as moving proof of double survival: inimitable verbal energy and subtle humor alleviate the omnipresent nostalgia. Rudolf Csepelyi's „Méz” (Honey), which is quoted on the book-jacket, is a sublime fable, a masterpiece of deft satire and cover-up for the hero's total isolation. „Hungarian Literature in South America”, a scholarly treatise by Columbia professor Judith K. Némethy, is by far the best preface in the collection; it is thorough, fair, and articulate. She presents two major talents, Sándor Lenárd and Márton Kerecsendi Kis, whose autobiographical pieces („Little Hungarian Globe” and „Pages in a Memoir”) could stand as the „keynote addresses” of this volume, rendering hitherto hidden, dizzying treasures even to the bona fide aficionados of exile literature.

„From Exclusion to Embrace” is the title of the U. S. section. A disproportionately brief but enlightening introduction (this writer apologizes for not having prepared it) leads to the piece „The Lost Child” by György Ferdinandy, a heart-wrenching, lachrymose story of a family in exile. The Canadian section is unique: the essay by János Miska is longer and more revelatory than the rather awkward, miniscule anecdote by noted scholar György Bisztray, an unfortunate choice.

The last section covers Western Europe. Here the presenter, György Gömöri, had a mighty difficult job finding three representative authors from among the three dozen countries. Nevertheless, both his summation and critique of his chosen writers are edifying and proficient. Tamás Kabdebó (from Ireland) loans a chapter from his three-volume, deeply evocative, and atmospheric novel, Danube (see WLT 74:1, p. 204), written with stunning detail. It is a historical chronicle but also a reverie on where you put your family and love inside yourself – only to lose them in separation. Englishman Mátyás Sárközi's „Italian Restaurant” is a fine example of his early (and most successful) prose, vividly portraying young refugees' initial economic, linguistic, and adjustment problems. The last piece, from France, is the first chapter of Endre Karátson's Memoirs: „Eternal Youth: Far from the Home Milieu, Alien in the Western One”. This is an eerie, spellbinding, phenomenally mesmerizing prose by a master absurdist, replete with black comic brilliance and sensitive, humane observations of elderly Hungarian-French literati. A magnificently fitting finale to this unique volume.

It is against the backdrop of existential crisis, proliferation of insouciance, and selfish narcissism as an accepted mode of behavior that Zoltán Veress's noble bridge-building should be examined. A szétszórtság arénája deserves our thanks and many prizes.

Clara Györgyey
Yale University

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Utolsó módosítás: 2008.04.11