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Skylark
     

Skylark

4.1 6
by Dezso Kosztolanyi, Richard Aczel (Translator)
 

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Series Copy:
"Half a continent's worth of forgotten genius."—The Guardian

The new Central European Classics series was born some ten years ago in the dim cafes of Budapest and Prague when General Editor Timothy Garton Ash began jotting down titles recommended to him by local writers. Its aim is to take these works of nineteenth- and

Overview

Series Copy:
"Half a continent's worth of forgotten genius."—The Guardian

The new Central European Classics series was born some ten years ago in the dim cafes of Budapest and Prague when General Editor Timothy Garton Ash began jotting down titles recommended to him by local writers. Its aim is to take these works of nineteenth- and twentieth-century classic fiction "out of the ghetto," onto the shelves of Western booksellers, and into the consciousness of Western readers.
The result of extensive discussion among writers, scholars, and critics, the rich tradition of Central European fiction has been culled to offer previously unavailable works written in Czech, Hungarian, and Polish that lend themselves perfectly to powerful and accurate translation. Specially commissioned introductions by leading Central European writers explain why these titles have become classics in their own country, while at the same time, the works stand on their own as great literature in English. With future titles such as a new edition of Boleslaw Prus's Polish masterpiece, The Doll, the Central European Classics series will contribute to a deeper understanding of the culture and history of countries which, since the opening of iron curtain, have been coming closer to us in many other ways.

An acknowledged masterpiece of twentieth-century Hungarian fiction, Dezso Kosztolanyi's Skylark is a portrait of provincial life in the Austro-Hungarian monarchy at the turn of the century. Set in autumn of 1899, it focuses on one extraordinary week in the otherwise uneventful lives of an elderly Hungarian couple. Their ugly spinster daughter, nicknamed Skylark, las left them for and unprecedented holiday with relatives in the country. At first the couple, whose entire existence revolves around their daughter, are devastated by her absence. Slowly, however, they rediscover the delights and diversions of small-town society life, finally reaching the shocking conclusion that their daughter is a burden to them.
In this beautifully written tale—introduced by one of Hungary's most exciting contemporary novelists—Kosztolanyi turns family sentiment on its head with an irony that is as telling now as it was nearly seventy years ago.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The most original, economical and painful novel I have read in a long time."—Victoria Glendinning, The Times (London)

Publishers Weekly
This alternately hilarious and melancholy classic of Hungarian literature plumbs the psyches of a husband and wife burdened with a homely daughter. After Ákos Vajkay and his wife, Antónia, dispatch Skylark, their stifling, unattractive and overbearing daughter, to visit with relatives, they revitalize their lives in Szarszeg, their backwater village, and recapture their youth with the Panthers, a schnapps-swilling men's social club. During their daughterless week, Ákos and Antónia rekindle their joy in living, taking in a transformative production of The Geisha and engaging in a drinking binge and epic meals at the local tavern. With their health and happiness returned to them, the disquieting realization of Skylark's return sets in, leading to an inevitable confrontation. The author slyly depicts a smalltown life that remains curiously relevant today with his exploration of the tension between the politics of the left and the right, atheism and Christianity, and parents and their children. Though written 80 years ago, this remains a deftly executed, thoughtful meditation on mortality and the passage of time. (Mar.)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781858660592
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Publication date:
03/28/1996
Series:
Central European Classics Series
Edition description:
REPRINT
Pages:
240
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.75(d)

Meet the Author

Dezso Kosztolányi (1885-1936) was born in Subotica, a provincial Austro-Hungarian city (located in present-day Serbia) that would serve as the model for the fictional town in which he later set several novels, including Skylark. His father was the headmaster of the local gymnasium, which he attended until he was expelled for insubordination. Kosztolányi spent three years studying Hungarian and German at the University of Budapest, but quit in 1906 to go into journalism. In 1908 he was among the first contributors to the legendary literary journal Nyugat; in 1910, the publication of his second collection of poems, The Complaints of a Poor Little Child, caused a literary sensation. Kosztolányi turned from poetry to fiction in the 1920s, when he wrote the novels Nero, the Bloody Poet (to which Thomas Mann contributed a preface); Skylark; and Anna Edes. An influential critic and, in 1931, the first president of the Hungarian PEN Club, Kosztolányi was also celebrated as the translator of such varied writers as Shakespeare, Lewis Carroll, Oscar Wilde, Verlaine, Baudelaire, Goethe, and Rilke, as well as for his anthology of Chinese and Japanese poetry. He was married to the actress Ilona Harmos and had one son.

Richard Aczel teaches English literature at the University of Cologne, Germany. He is a playwright and founding director of the theater company Port in Air. His translations from the Hungarian include Ádám Bodor’s The Euphrates at Babylon and Péter Esterházy’s The Glance of Countess Hahn-Hahn: Down the Danube.

Péter Esterházy was born in Budapest in 1950. He is one of Hungary’s most prominent writers, and his short stories, novels, and essays have been published in more than twenty languages.

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Skylark 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
AuntDoll More than 1 year ago
Can't believe I haven't heard of this book before. It was a good story about how parents deal with their disappointment in a less than perfect child and the loneliness of a person who doesn't fit in to normal society
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Cazthon More than 1 year ago
"Skylark" is one of the titles in the New York Review of Books reprint list. It is a comparatively short novel detailing the emotions and activities of a pair of elderly parents while their 40ish, single daughter is on a two-week vacation with relatives. It is poignant and universal, asking questions and describing realities that affect almost all families in various ways. Skylark, the daughter, is absent during almost the entire book, and only returns at the end. It is a book about the human condition and as such contains improbabilities and hopes and dreams and realities. Because it is so human, I also found it enormously rewarding and thought-provoking. It is a serious book with many small treasures.