View Full Version : Frigyes Karinthy

Tuesday, April 13th, 2004, 01:17 PM

ow could man and woman understand each other? They want entirely different things: eachy wants the other. (Frigyes Karinthy)

1887 born in Budapest
1893 his mother died
1906 his first writings are published in various newspapers
1908 he began to write for the Nyugat
1912 his first satiric collections are published
1931 he lectured at various conferences
1938 he died in Siófok

Novelist, journalist, playwright poet and short story writer; he is also very popular for his ingenious translations, especially that of Winnie the Pooh. "To this day Karinthy remains the most serious - and the most popular - of twentieth-century Hungarian authors. He produced plays, poems, short stories, novels, essays and newspaper articles, as well as parodies and grotesque pieces. Yet even Karinthy's most amusing works reflect the cautious realism of a wise humanitarian." (From the jacket of A Journey Round My Skull)

Tuesday, April 13th, 2004, 01:18 PM
Struggle for Life

Brother, it seems, you have been beaten.
As Law decrees and Precept goes -
Your corpse is sniffed round by hyenas
And circled by the hungry crows.

It's not the pack who were the stronger,
Smaller beasts beat you to tatters -
And who fights now over your carcass:
Jackdaw? Jackal? Hardly matters.

Your fist when it was time to use it
Always stopped halfway in the air -
Was it charity? Weakness? May be.
Fear? Pride? Modesty? I don't care.

Or mere disgust, perhaps. So be it.
Good. Amen. I accept the terms.
I prefer that worms should eat me
Rather than I should feed on worms.
(Translated by Peter Zollman)

Next day I paid a visit to the slaughter-house, in the mistaken belief that I should write an article about it. An ox was about to be pole-axed. It slink unwillingly along the wall, lowing softly, but offering no resistance. When the butcher stood up in front of it with his legs wide apart and raised the pole-axe, it lowered its eyes, as if ashamed of his intention. Quickly, however, it seemed to resign itself to fulfill the contract entered into with man. It had renounced the last years of life in return for spending the early ones, without a care or struggle, on the sweet pastures. When the pole-axe fell it collapsed with a soft thud, like a row of coats from which the clothes-rail is withdrawn. I felt depressed on leaving and did not write the article, nor could I eat my lunch.
(From A Journey Round My Skull, translated by Vernon Duckworth Baker)

"Karinthy was a magnificent parodist and a ruthless but never pompous social critic. His poetry was a mixture of carefully polished, effectively classicist and broadly-rolling, Whitmanesque verse."
(Adam Makkai)