October 01, 2009

Some Hungarian historical fiction

Some weeks ago Gavin asked me, are there any Hungarian historical fictions translated into English?

On the site I've found only three books.

Peter Esterhazy, Celestial Harmonies (2000):
"A literary novel about five centuries of Hungary's aristocratic Esterhazy family, in which the first half is a non-linear melding of many generations into a kaleidoscopic narrative, and the second half is a linear story about the Esterhazys beginning in 1945 when their estate was confiscated by the Communists."
It's not a tipically or a "classic" historical novel, it's more a play with the famous name "Esterhazy", meanwhile the reader learn many thing about the time after ww2. I'm really curious what kind of experience a non-Hungarian with this book would have.

Geza Gardonyi, Eclipse of the Crescent Moon (1899)
About a Hungarian peasant boy who becomes a hero during the siege of the town of Egér, Hungary, by the Turks in 1552.
As I mentioned, this is maybe the most popular historical novel in Hungary. The reason is simple this was for many decades the compulsory reading for children in age 12.

Mor (or Maurus) Jokai, The Nameless Castle (1896)
About the Hungarian army during the war against Napoleon in 1809
I've never read this story but I've seen the tv-adaptation. It's an adventure story. But I can imagine Jokai's ironical storytelling about a French diplomat meets the Hungarian circumstances.

Other books:

Mor (or Maurus) Jokai, The Golden Age in Transylvania(1852)
A wonderfull tragic story about a man, a great politician, a reach aristocrat, a noble man amoung petty, powe-hunry people in the 17. centruy. A story about a man who loved two women. One of my favourite Jokai's novel.

Mor (or Maurus) Jokai, The Lion of Janina: The Last Days of the Janissaries (1854)
Unfortunatelly, I don't no too much about this story. This is a historical novel, and there is a Turkish word in this story, wich became the title of a postmodern historical novel, written by Janos Hay.
I'm going to read this book next, I'll tell more about it later.

Mor (or Maurus) Jokai, A Hungarian Nabob (1853)
I have my own theorie, why this book isn't a historical novel, but it's still set in the first half of the 19. centruy and the reader can learn many things, about the so called "reform-era" (1825-1848)

And yes, there was a Renaissance of the historical novels in the late 1990's in Hungary, there are some excellent works, but unfortunatelly, they are transleted mostly into German only.

2 megjegyzés:

Margaret D. said...

Thanks for mentioning! I've added the three Jokai novels you mentioned. Another Hungarian author who wrote historical fiction that has been translated into English was Zsolt Harsanyi. His novel Immortal Franz about the Hungarian-born pianist and composer Franz Liszt is reviewed here. Hungary produced some wonderful writers, and more of their works should be translated!

Marie said...

Thanks for this list. Hopefully more will be translated in the future- meanwhile, it's a good start. :-)

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