Frigyes Karinthy


or Psychophysics of the Friction
between the Upper Strata of Society
and the Mass Psyche

(Being an exhaustive study of the causes
of social struggles, in two volumes)


Mr. SELFSAME (clutching the handles of the door of a tramcar, his feet planted behind the sign on which the legend ‘Full up’ informs the public that not more than another twenty-five persons may now board the tram, presses his forehead against the pile of crushed corpses before the battle positions on the platform.) What d’you mean, there's no more room? There certainly is—if you’ll just crush up a little! It’s an outrage not to let a chap to get in. Why, I’ve just as much right to get in as you people who are inside already! Awfully sorry I’ve trodden on your hand, sir, there’s a war on, you know. Now if there’s no other expedient, we shall have to use force to assert our rights! If the management sit back with folded hands while some can get in and others can’t—well, then it’s we who’ll set things right. D’you think I’m not in a hurry same as you are? What d’you mean, you boarded the car at the last stop? A fat lot I care! You’ve been riding long enough! Get out! Jabber as much as you like—the issue isn’t who’s been standing there longer and who hasn’t thanks to God knows what corrupt favouritism, but rather who is clever enough and tough enough to be standing there! Get out of my way! Down with the car-driver! Down with fat-guts! Up the revolution! Cha—a arge— —! (In a sweeping charge, he pushes his way onto the platform. The car moves off.)


MR. SELFSAME (at next stop, coming forward to edge of platform harangues the crowd that is surging up the steps.) Now, now, gentlemen! Please! For heaven’s sake, don’t you see there’s no more room in here? Why, this platform’s on the point of breaking down! So stop pushing and jostling like so many dumb sheep! Where’s your human dignity, gentlemen! After all, we are human beings! Why, even brute beasts know better than to board a tram that’s full up! For goodness’ sake, gentlemen, let’s maintain law and order or we face the annihilation of all that wise government has created for the benefit of the Hungary of to-morrow and for constitutional development within the bounds of law! Patience, gentlemen, patience! Wait for the next tram. Patience exercised with competence and system is sure to bear fruit in good time, is sure to bring us a better future—always, of course within legal channels. Think of the civilized West, gentlemen. Look at the noble example of Germany, at the National Parliament. In the name of the body politic I call upon each of you, gentlemen, peaceably to disengage his solar plexus from the other's and to wait for the next tram! Long live our conductor! Long live our beloved driver, who has shown such commendable wisdom in guiding our car in these days of hardship! Long live the Government!

*From a collection of Karinthy’s humorous sketches, entitled Hököm színház (“Farcical Theater”).

SOURCE: Karinthy, Frigyes. “Mr. Selfsame,” translated by István Farkas, The New Hungarian Quarterly, vol. III, no. 6, April-June, 1962, pp. 83-84, extracted from “A selection of the works of Frigyes Karinthy,” pp. 68-95.

Emile Zola: Oil (A Novel)” by Frigyes Karinthy

Frigyes Karinthy, Humorist and Thinker” by Miklós Vajda

Grave and Gay: Selections from His Work by Frigyes Karinthy

Frigyes & Ferenc Karinthy in English

Frigyes (Frederiko) Karinthy (1887-1938) en Esperanto

Futurology, Science Fiction, Utopia, and Alienation
in the Work of Imre Madách, György Lukács, and Other Hungarian Writers:
Select Bibliography

Sándor Szathmári (1897-1974): Bibliografio & Retgvidilo / Bibliography & Web Guide

Science Fiction & Utopia Research Resources: A Selective Work in Progress

Alireteje: Offsite:

Frigyes Karinthy @ Ĝirafo

Frigyes Karinthy @ 50 watts

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