Mario Szenessy

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Mario Szenessy
Mario Szenessy 001.jpg
Born September 30, 1930
Veliki Bečkerek (Zrenjanin), Yugoslavia
Died October 11, 1976
Pinneberg, Germany
Nationality Hungarian
Fields Literature
Known for Novels, short stories, translations
Influenced by Thomas Mann

Mario Szenessy (born September 14, 1930 in Veliki Bečkerek, Yugoslavia (today Zrenjanin, Serbia) - died October 11, 1976 in Pinneberg, Germany) was a Hungarian-German author, translator, and literary critic.


Mario Szenessy grew up in the Vojvodina in a multiethnic, multilingual environment. In 1942 his family moved to Szeged, Hungary where he studied Slavic and Germans and discovered the writings of Kafka and Thomas Mann. He became a school teacher and also taught Russian at the Medical Academy, (today Szeged University). Based on his writings about Thomas Mann he received a grant by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and thus came to the University of Tübingen in 1963, where he worked on Mann's novella Die Betrogene. Later, he moved to Berlin. Encouraged by Inge and Walter Jens, Szenessy started to write in German and published his first book in 1967, Verwandlungskünste. Marcel Reich-Ranicki wrote: He who is not a German writes a much better German than almost all who publish books in Germany... bitter, sarcastic, and full of temperament, sharp, springy and lapidary.[1] When Szenessy’s books failed to gain a wider audience, he began to write critiques and translations, and eventually decided to become qualified as a librarian. In 1971, Szenessy received the Hermann-Hesse-Preis for his novel Lauter falsche Pässe oder Die Erinnerungen des Roman Skorzeny.

Mario Szenessy died from a bronchial carcinoma in Pinneberg in 1976.[2]


Szenessy wrote in the epic tradition of Thomas Mann, his literary role model, and his first book received highly favorable critiques. Thus the Süddeutsche Zeitung called him a new, wonderful narrator.[3] When, however, he made literary concessions to gain a greater audience, critics bemoaned this development.[2] Yet, remarkable remains Szenessy’s art to so completely enter into the German language that it had become finally his home.[4] He always tried to popularize East-European literature in Germany; especially the Hungarian authors György Konrád and Tibor Déry he made more familiar with translations as well as a monograph.[2]

In his novel Lauter falsche Pässe (1971), Szenessy stylized the image of the typical entertainment novel by treating the genre in a sarcastic fashion, thus transferring it into a work of art. In the book the author receives a manuscript that represents an autobiography of Roman Skorzeny. Skorzeny recalls how after falsifying stamps, he proceeds to manufacture the accompanying letters, and then the related biographies. The text demonstrates the patterns of a fascinating narration whereby the first name of the fictitious author (- In German Roman also means novel -) indicates that in this book the subject is the novel per se. Presented are the political thriller, the espionage and criminal novel, the sailors’ yarn and Anglo romantic accounts of mail coach robberies. The introduction is a parody of the classical Bildungsroman and cites existing travesty in literature. The genre of the trivial novel presents itself as a novel in all its forms as if to prove that the novel is just not a lower art form.[5]


  • In Paris mit Jim. Stories with an afterword by Peter Wapnewski. Hoffmann und Campe, Hamburg 1977, ISBN 3-455-07589-4
  • Der Hellseher. Novel. Hoffmann und Campe, Hamburg 1974, ISBN 3-455-07593-2
  • Der Hut im Gras. Novel. Hoffmann und Campe, Hamburg 1973. ISBN 3-455-07591-6
  • Lauter falsche Pässe oder Die Erinnerungen des Roman Skorzeny. Novel. Hoffmann und Campe, Hamburg 1971. ISBN 3-455-07590-8
  • Tibor Déry. Monographie. Kohlhammer, Stuttgart 1970
  • Otto, der Akrobat. Stories. S. Fischer, Frankfurt/M 1969
  • Verwandlungskünste. Novel. S. Fischer, Frankfurt/M 1967

Translations from Hungarian to German[edit]

About Szenessy[edit]


The initial English article is based on a translation of the corresponding German Wikipedia article from November 18, 2009

  1. ^ Marcel Reich−Ranicki: So phantasievoll wie sachlich. Mario Szenessys Roman Verwandlungskünste. In: Die Zeit from November 24, 1967
  2. ^ a b c Dieter E. Zimmer (October 22, 1976). "Zum Tod von Mario Szenessy". Die Zeit (in German). Retrieved November 18, 2009. 
  3. ^ Barbara Bondy in the SZ, October 14/15 1967
  4. ^ Kritisches Lexikon zur deutschsprachigen Gegenwartsliteratur – KLG
  5. ^ Willi Winkler: Mario Szenessy. In: Kritisches Lexikon zur deutschsprachigen Gegenwartsliteratur – KLG

External links[edit]