Antal Szerb

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Antal Szerb (May 1, 1901, Budapest - January 27, 1945, Balf) was a noted Hungarian scholar and writer. He is recognized as one of the major Hungarian literary personalities of the 20th century.

Life and work[edit]

Szerb was born in 1901 to assimilated Jewish parents in Budapest, but baptized Catholic. He studied Hungarian, German and later English, obtaining a doctorate in 1924. From 1924 to 1929 he lived in France and Italy, also spending a year in London, England.

As a student he published essays on Georg Trakl and Stefan George, and quickly established a formidable reputation as a scholar, writing erudite studies of William Blake and Henrik Ibsen among other works. Elected President of the Hungarian Literary Academy in 1933 - aged just 32 -, he published his first novel, The Pendragon Legend (which draws upon his personal experience of living in Britain) the following year. His second and best-known work, Utas és holdvilág, known in English as Journey by Moonlight, came out in 1937. He was made a Professor of Literature at the University of Szeged the same year. He was twice awarded the Baumgarten Prize, in 1935 and 1937.

In 1941 he published a History of World Literature which continues to be authoritative today. He also published a volume on novel theory and a book about the history of Hungarian literature. Given numerous chances to escape antisemitic persecution (as late as 1944), he chose to remain in Hungary, where his last novel, a Pirandellian fantasy about a king staging a coup against himself, then having to impersonate himself, Oliver VII, was published in 1942. It was passed off as a translation from the English, as no 'Jewish' work could have been printed at the time.

Szerb was deported to a concentration camp late in 1944, and was beaten to death there in January 1945, at the age of 43.[1]

Selected bibliography[edit]

  • Az angol irodalom kistükre, 1929 ("An Outline of English Literature")
  • Cynthia, 1932
  • A magyar irodalom története, 1934 ("History of Hungarian literature")
  • A Pendragon legenda, 1934
  • Szerelem a palackban, 1935 ("Love in the Bottle", short stories)
  • Budapesti útikalauz marslakók számára, 1935
    • tr.: A Martian's Guide to Budapest (see a detail)
  • Utas és holdvilág, 1937
  • A világirodalom története, 1941 ("History of World Literature")
  • VII. Olivér, 1943 ("Oliver the VIIth", published under the pseudonym A.H. Redcliff)
  • A királyné nyaklánca, 1943 ("The Queen's Necklace")
  • Száz vers, 1943/1944 ("100 poems")

Translations[edit]

English

Czech

  • Pendragonská prisera 1946
  • Pendragonská legenda 1985
  • Tyran 1998

Dutch

Finnish

French

German

Italian

  • La leggenda di Pendragon 1989
  • Il viaggiatore e il chiaro di luna 1999

Polish

  • Legenda Pendragonow 1971
  • Podróżny i światło księżyca 1959

Slovak

  • Prázdny hrob 1972

Slovenian

  • Legenda o Pendragonu 1980
  • Potnik in mesečina 2011

Spanish

  • El collar de la reina 1941
  • El viajero bajo el resplandor de la luna 2000
  • La leyenda de los Pendragon 2004

Serbian

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Hungarian Quarterly 49. Society of the Hungarian Quarterly.