Gyula Krúdy is a marvelous writer who haunted the taverns of Budapest and lived on its streets while turning out a series of mesmerizing, revelatory novels that are among the masterpieces of modern literature. Krúdy conjures up a world that is entirely his own—dreamy, macabre, comic, and erotic—where urbane sophistication can erupt without warning into passion and madness.
In Sunflower young Eveline leaves the city and returns to her country estate to escape the memory of her desperate love for the unscrupulous charmer Kálmán. There she encounters the melancholy Álmos-Dreamer, who is languishing for love of her, and is visited by the bizarre and beautiful Miss Maszkerádi, a woman who is a force of nature. The plot twists and turns; elemental myth mingles with sheer farce: Krúdy brilliantly illuminates the shifting contours and acid colors of the landscape of desire.
John Bátki’s outstanding translation of Sunflower is the perfect introduction to the world of Gyula Krúdy, a genius as singular as Robert Walser, Bruno Schulz, or Joseph Roth.
About the Author
Gyula Krúdy (1878--1933) was born in Nyíregyháza. Publishing his first short story in 1893, he would become one of the most acclaimed figures of twentieth century Hungarian literature. A novelist, short story writer, and journalist, he published more than sixty novels, three thousand short stories, four plays, and more than one thousand newspapers articles. Winner of the Baumgarten Prize in 1930, he died in Budapest in 1933.
John Lukacs is an author of several well-known history books, among them Budapest 1900: A Historical Portrait of a City and its Culture.
John Bátki's stories have appeared in The New Yorker. He has received the O. Henry Award for short fiction and has taught at Harvard University.
Praise for Sunflower…
"Krudy, a well-known early 20th-century Hungarian author, produced a prolific body of 60 novels and 3000 short stories before dying in relative obscurity. In this novel, appearing in English for the first time...Krudy eulogizes a way of life already disappearing as the work was being written and presents a glimpse of rural Hungary that is at once comic, nostalgic, romantic, and erotic. The introduction by John Lukacs provides insight into Krudy's life and works. Recommended for academic collections or large public libraries." --Library Journal
"Maybe I should just write, "Read Sunflower" and leave it at that...Krudy has been compared to his great contemporaries (Marcel Proust, James Joyce, Joseph Roth) and his great successors (Isabel Allende and Gabriel Garcia Marquez). Other comparisons come to mind. His work purrs with the fin-de-siecle urbane eroticism in Arthur Schnitzler's stories. His shifting viewpoints and streams of consciousness recall Virginia Woolf. Like Kafka, he's willing to let dream and reality mingle. He's ironic and wise about the human heart and life's futility, like Chekhov. His fond portrayal of rural life evokes the Levin scenes in Anna Karenina...Sunflower is an erotic carnival...The more translations of this untranslatable genius there are, the closer we'll be to his shimmering, melancholy world." --Los Angeles Times
“Gyula Krudy…a Hungarian Proust.” —The New York Times (Charles Champlin)
“Gyula Krudy, a master of Hungarian prose…” —The New York Times (Ivan Sanders)
"[Krudy's] literary power and greatness are almost past comprehension...Few in world literature could so vivify the mythical in reality...With a few pencil strokes he draws apocalyptic scenes about sex, flesh, human cruelty and hopelessness." —Sándor Márai
“For those who like Hungarian music enough to give Hungarian writing a try, I’d particularly recommend Gyula Krudy’s novel Sunflower, set in the marshy, birch-covered region of northeast Hungary…Historian John Lukacs has compared Krudy’s writing to the sound of a cello.” —Music Web International (Lance Nixon)
“Krudy writes of imaginary people, of imaginary events, in dream-like settings; but the spiritual essence of his persons and of their places is stunningly real, it reverberates in our minds and strikes at our hearts.” —The New Yorker (John Lukacs)
“There were few outside, actual events in Krudy’s life…he was always conscious of his landed gentry origins yet he preferred the company of the poor, the simple, the dispossessed… he spent most of his life in the capital…He knew every street, every inn, almost every house. For him Budapest was Paris and London, Rome and New York; I don’t think he spent more than a few months of his entire life away from Hungary.” —Paul Tabori
“Gyula Krudy’s luminous and willful pastoral, people with archaic, semi-mythical figures–damned poets and doomed aristocrats, dreamily erotic hetaerae and rude country squires–is pure fin-de-siècle, art nouveau in prose for which I can’t think of a real Anglo-Saxon or even Celtic-English literary equivalent… approach him and his Sunflower as a happy stumbling on an extraordinary attic of the rambling house of the European imagination, strangely lit, and crammed with richly faded dreams.” —The Hungarian Quarterly (W.L. Webb)