by Ferenc Karinthy

The chief physician hadn’t planned to attend. He was home for a short two days, a brief respite between a convention in Copenhagen and a ski trip to the mountains. That was when he received the invitation to attend the requiem service in the Coronation Church in memory of Albert Gyulafy, who had passed away in Montevideo on January the 7th. Nothing more Just Albert Gyulafy. No address, no rank, not even a “Mr.” He promptly forgot it, checked in at the hospital to take care of a few pressing matters, but was immediately syphoned off to a consultation, then signed his name to a batch of papers and letters, at least forty in all. He finished at two-thirty, rushed over to the ministry, had some cold chicken in the buffet, then drove home for a short nap before his two private patients were due that evening. But he had barely closed his eyes on the couch when an old memory unexpectedly emerged from the primeval waters: ruddy-cheeked Uncle Berci, dressed in the special Magyar gala suit, sword at his side, at Ubul Brenner’s wedding, as he gave him a reassuring little nod, his way of letting him know that his scholarship to Switzerland was okay. In those turbulent war days that took quite some doing, even for a minister. Actually, he had escaped the siege of Budapest and the battlefield due to this support in the upper echelons, and it was the two years spent abroad that had started him on his career. In fact, he had those same two years to thank for poor Helga, that sad, now irrevocably clouded period of sunshine in his life. He brought her back with him from Switzerland, and it wasn’t until later that he realized his wife couldn’t acclimatize, she was a flower that couldn’t be replanted, her frail physique wasting away in this hot soil... And suddenly, a bittersweet nostalgia, a feeling of gratitude surged up in him, and perhaps curiosity as well. What would it be like? Who would attend? A challenge, a time of reckoning. How much had survived of his youth? The telephone lay nearby. Soon he had called off one appointment, postponed the other, and was driving up to the Castle.

It was cold, crisp winter weather. Dusk fell early. Uncle Berci was his uncle twice removed, his mother’s cousin, and so, a Gyulafy by birth. He had been the pride and joy of the combined Brenner, Gyulafy, and Korbuly-Mersich clans, a minister of many years’ standing. In private, he was an entertaining gentleman with a Bohemian temperament, an acknowledged hunter and womaniser, a fin-de-siècle anachronism. At least, that was what he’d heard; he rarely saw Uncle Berci in the flesh. As a politician he was a liberal, a sly fox, the silent representative of a British orientated policy in the government, and the hated target of the Hungarian fascists. At the time of the occupation, in ’44, he was deported by the Germans, that was how he ended up in South America. He was never declared a war criminal at home. Still, it wasn’t politic to pride oneself on being his relative.

Several people had already gathered at the side entrance of the Coronation Church. He was flabbergasted when he recognized an obese, porky man as Aladár Zetelaki of Zetelak, or Zaladár Etelaki of Etelak, as everyone called him, wearing a closely-cut coat with frogging, and his wife, Zamália Etelaki of Etelak, in a worn seal coat. Though he hadn’t given the old man much thought since God knows when, he could have sworn that the former chief school inspector, the apostle of the “Magyar Goods in Magyar Homes” movement and editor of the Zetelak Young People’s Almanac (the Etelak Young People’s Zalmanac) was no longer among the living. He must have had a hormone imbalance or something. Bursting at the seams he was, his pudgy, flabby cheeks, small toothbrush moustache, sickly-thick stump of a neck, tiny puffed-up eyes, idiotic, vacuous stare as he blinked in return to his greeting (obviously not realizing who he was), made the chief physician think the man is a porker ripe for the knife, an open sesame of bacon and lard... And good Lord, Lorand Korbuly-Mersich, the “butcher”! Uncle Lori had been deputy police commissioner of Budapest, though in private he was a gentle and soft-spoken man and an avid collector of insects. Then, in ’51, the Szabad Nep came out with an article in favour of relocation and published a list of some of the sworn enemies of the state who had already been sent out of the capital to live in the countryside. The list included Korbuly-Mersich, the “butcher” commissioner (or so he had been inadvertently promoted). The family had called this white-bearded, lean old man living on raw food and herbs and fifteen-mile constitutionals by this epithet ever since.

“Egon, dear! So you’ve come!”

Dear, sweet Babuka. Dear little Baba Kézdy, the orphaned, penniless, old maid baroness who had been like a nurse to him after his mother’s death. They kissed. Poor Babu hadn’t got any younger either; she was even more diminutive in black, and completely grey. Even her old-fashioned hat couldn’t hide that. But it was nice cuddling up to her, and there was the same natural sense of belonging... She had sent the invitation herself, she said, and the chief physician decided he’d stay by her side, hold on to her, and not let go of her reassuring presence.

A ghost came over to him, or rather glided, floated over, an incorporeal other-worldly shade. And, extending his cold spirit hand, he mumbled something about his wife’s cure and couldn’t you, old boy, see about a bed in a good sanatorium... He’d never have guessed who the man was, were it not for Babuka whispering: it’s Guszti, Guszti Huszár, sub-prefect Dr. Chevalier Ágoston Ladányi-Huszár. Could this man with both feet in the grave be the former Tartar khan of the raven-black eyes and moustache and prominent forehead? The one whose retort to a discussion on the Gulf Stream—“It’s nonsense! The brainchild of Jewish scribblers! It’s all I can do to believe in America!”—became part of family lore?

Babu quickly supplied the essentials. Guszti is down and out, an incurable alcoholic, and so is his wife. They frequent taverns and bars, drink with bums and do the most distressing things. Last year Guszti fell down the stairs of a pub in a drunken stupor, broke his hip, wore a cast and was dependent on crutches for six months, but made his daily pilgrimage to the pub just the same. He’s always the first in and the last out. As for Mrs. Huszár, née Lula Korbuly-Mersich, a once-celebrated beauty, the star of the society pages, she takes up with all sorts of filthy, drunken carters and others of their kind, even now, at seventy, wherever she can, in a ditch, on the road, last autumn she fell asleep in the park and almost froze to death at night, that’s what’s caused her rheuma... Babu pointed her out in the distance: a shaky, skeletal figure, and even by artificial light you could see the heavy coat of makeup and the ghastly frozen smile on her larva face. The chief physician remembered what they used to say back then, that alongside many of her other scandalous affairs, the captivating Lula had also found time to be Uncle Berci’s lover.

They walked into the church. The mass was being celebrated up front, at the main altar illuminated by candles. The participants sat facing each other on the benches, on two sides of the apse, fenced off by a small balustrade. He was surprised by their numbers, a hundred and fifty or two hundred at least. He moved as far to the rear as he could with Babuka, as he had always done. Mrs. Huszár, on the other hand, sat down dramatically in the first row. And on her right, now, who was the woman so elegant even in mourning, veiled, with flowing ribbons? Could it be Minci Jacobi? Correction. Countess Vayk, after her fourth husband. Yes, indeed, the two Jacobi girls, Trudi and Minci. Had eight husbands between them. Trudi was living in Canada now. She had married the owner of a chocolate factory and supplied her younger sister with clothes, among other things, though Minci would look swell dressed in a sack. To this day, whatever she might have on, her innate elegance was a natural, organic part of her being. What lovely, enchanting women they were! They must have had a secret way with men. Minci, in fact, was still going strong; the tall, thin, quiet Oliver Vayk, also in attendance, was a good fifteen years her junior... The chief physician liked her, he found her bizarre humour entertaining, like the time he had met Minci in town. She was going about some business, carrying a tiny bag in her hand, and in answer to the standard “How are you?” she began to talk in full earnest:

“Just think, Egon dear, the minute I woke up this morning, I found myself all square and covered with polka-dots!”

However, she’d been covering up more of herself lately, that was how she selected her clothes, shawls and hats. The veil must have come in handy; now, too, she was virtually hiding behind it, only a strand of her blonde hair visible, and the flash of her impish eyes. She, too, had been a great friend of Uncle Berci’s and Trudi as well, or so gossip said, both at the same time.

And there was the third widow, Mrs. Linger. Her husband, the famous industrialist millionaire, was carried off in the first confused days after the siege of Budapest and was never heard from again. Gizike had been mourning him close on thirty years now. She spent half her time in church. The other half she used to spend writing to Uncle Berci in Uruguay. She’d been desperately in love with him ever since her teens. Their correspondence became especially lively after Ma Orsi, the old man’s wife, died. In a sudden onrush of sentiment, Uncle Berci invited Gizike, and even somehow managed to scrape her air fare together. Mrs. Linger took leave of all her friends, including her spiritual advisers and father confessors, and was accompanied by at least thirty old women to the airport of Ferihegy. But she was back in four weeks. It wasn’t hard to guess what had happened in far-off Montevideo; all you had to do was take a good look at this long-necked, hopelessly silly, proud, busybody mother goose stewing in her own fanaticism. They say she had refused to sleep with Uncle Berci even before, she being of the opinion that such things must wait till after the wedding ceremony, and even then should be attempted only with the express purpose of begetting an heir. Otherwise it was lechery... Nevertheless she now laid claim to the title of widow number one. She had already broken into such profuse sighs during the Oratory, mumbled her prayers so loud and wiped her eyes with her black-bordered handkerchief with such emphasis, that anyone could see—she had suffered the greatest loss of anyone here; she was the real widow, the other two mere undeserving self-appointees, unauthorized trespassers.

Behind the three mourning women sat the loose-limbed Vayk brothers, Oliver, Minci Jacobi’s engineer husband, and his older brother Jenő, a corporation lawyer. And wedged in between the two counts, the latter’s wife, whose various metamorphoses had been followed with great excitement by the family for years. No point in denying it, her dad’s name was Sámuel Freund. Following in the footsteps of his ancestors, who were in the leather trade, he also dealt in leather goods and was later founding partner in the Sámuel Freund and Co. leather firm. This was later shortened to Sam Freund and Co., and when her father struck it rich with his war contracts he converted to Catholicism and bought himself into the nobility. On his visiting card, under the five-pointed crown, appeared the name, Soma Freund of Barát. His daughter, elaborating on this, assumed the name of Eva Baráti-Freund, and later under the People’s Democracy, when such things were no longer taken so seriously, she became Éva Krisztina Baráthy-Freund, and finally, since her lucky marriage, Baroness Krisztina Vayk Baráthy... There was a story about them that their maid said to a visitor who came to call on them:

“The doctor and the comrade engineer are out, but milady the baroness will see you.”

There was nothing distinctive about her. She was rather chubby, but still a relatively well-preserved, energetic woman wearing a short sporty fur coat, cropped hair, and a large gold ring with a coat of arms on her hand folded in prayer. Her twin brother, Chevalier Ferdinand Baráthy, the respected dog breeder and recurrent sailing champion, cut a more distinguished figure with his crisp moustache and the discrete Maltese Cross in his buttonhole. Ever since Nándi could remember, his main aspiration in life had been to be admitted into the Knights of Malta. But despite all his efforts and connections in high places, in the old world his ambition had remained unrealized. However, he never gave up this aim, not even under the building of the socialist way of life, and persevered until he obtained a visitor’s passport to America where, with the help and recommendation of the still-active Hungarian branch of the Order—some ancient gentlemen sans wealth but with impressive-sounding names—for a modest contribution, something like a hundred dollars, he was inducted and initiated into magisterial knighthood. Having thus attained the chief ambition of his life, he returned to his beloved retrievers and hounds as a descendant of Raymund de Puy, the crusader, of Villiers de l’Isle, the hero who defended Rhodes against the Turk, and La Valette, the liberator of Malta.

During the Gospel the chief physician stood up along with the others, but did not cross himself. He caught someone whispering:

“That’s Boriska Gyulafy’s son. He’s a communist.”

He glanced that way. Some dark-eyed old women were whispering in each other’s ears. He couldn’t place them, though. And then, further off, at the other end of his bench, yes, it struck him like lightning, his knees began to tremble, as years ago. Perhaps they even gave way.

Kati Kerecsényi.

How did she get here? He thought she was living in the country, in Kiskunfélegyháza or Kiskunhalas; ever since the relocations, she was a teacher or something down there. Had she come up just for the mass? Of course. She was another of Uncle Berci’s protégées, the apple of his eye, in fact, and possibly even his god-daughter. Carefully, inconspicuously, he studied her profile for signs of aging. But despite his scrutiny, he could discover nothing substantial. He found her almost as beautiful and exciting now, the mother of three grown children. Or was it just a reflection of the old glory? Still the clear, well-defined contours of her face, which emphasized the noble curve of the neck, her skin tight and smooth, her blonde hair barely a shade darker, though greying, only her unbelievable, unearthly thinness had filled out ever so slightly... Yet how this woman had fought for years on end, alone, with her children, just to survive. A year after he left for Switzerland she married Pubi Lippai Kreiss, a fatuous and lazy lounge-lizard and sports dude. He got her with three children, then, after everything was nationalized and his money was gone, he ran off with a waitress. Later, he died in a car crash in New Zealand or New Guinea. Kati stayed. She refused to become a burden on anyone with her three children. She accepted her fate and first worked in a nursery, then, through superhuman effort, finished the academy and became a teacher, and today she was a school principal, or so they said. And she did it all alone, in the provinces, away from her relatives. The chief physician hadn’t seen her in over twenty years, and only knew about her through hearsay.

Babuka was quietly explaining who was who, but he wasn’t paying much attention. There were four or five former generals and colonels present, most of them night watchmen and overseers now. And Dénes Antal, a chaplain general. He had held out the longest. He wasn’t forced to retire until 1950. He had been appointed prison chaplain in ’45 and spent the night before their execution with the war criminals including an army commander sentenced to death at a spectacular trial, to whom—having been absent when they handed out brains—Uncle Dini said the following by way of parting as they left death row at dawn: “My most sincere apologies, Your Excellency!”

A good-looking man of gigantic build in an elegant winter coat lined with fur: Tamás Teleki. The son of Kálmán Teleki, once the owner of a huge estate, member of the Upper House and chamberlain, he was now—Babuka was rapidly giving him the low-down—a furniture mover; a plain haulier, but with a difference. He had organized a special team with a few friends, all gentlemen like himself. Their specialty was that they never used coarse or unseemly language. Regardless of what they might have to lift or carry, they did so efficiently and with the utmost ceremony, to the great astonishment of their customers: “Go on, dear fellow, a little higher, if you don’t mind... many thanks, dear colleague... the back of the chest, if you will...” and so on. Their reputation spread quickly in this rather menial profession, and besides, they were quick and worked with clockwork precision, on the basis of scientific principles. They had more customers than they knew what to do with, and needless to say, they made as much money as they wanted. They all had cars, their own apartments and summer places.

There was an old clipping from “Theatre News” among the chief physician’s photographs, a picture taken on the beach of Foldvar. Some young men making a pyramid in the Balaton, he at the bottom, the two Telekis, Tamás and Tibor, standing on his shoulders, both lanky, sunburnt adolescents. Tibor making a funny face. A few years later he was shot down as an air force pilot... Kati was also vacationing there that summer; he was introduced to her only in passing, which gave him the right at most to greet her along the promenade or the pier, and she nodded back condescendingly. He adored her from a distance. How could he hope to approach the beautiful, spoiled, very popular, tennis-champion, queen-of-the-ball daughter of a fabulously rich champagne manufacturer and stable owner, he, the poor, just tolerated cousin from the periphery of the big family, the medical student son of Dr. Brenner? He thought up all sorts of adventurous ways of meeting her. For example, they get into the same compartment, and the train stops in a tunnel, or Kati sneaks down to the shore at night because she’s fed up with the company, and he accidentally comes by, or the girl’s horse bolts during the morning’s ride, and he appears among the poplars and rescues her, and so on.

Then it all happened quite differently and much later, just before he left, on that two-day boating excursion on the Danube. He was so nervous just before departure, he almost called it off, but he had promised, and they were so insistent, and the early September was so brilliant, he didn’t have the heart. They had decided to go island-hopping. About fifteen of them gathered at the Római beach, and his heart fluttered to see Kati Kerecsényi among them. But rowing up the Szentendre branch, he hardly saw her. There were three girls sitting in a keel, and he was alone in the kayak. They spent the night at the Huszár’s villa at Visegrád. Nothing happened, though; Kati didn’t even notice him during the hayride. The next day they discovered that the keel was damaged and out of commission, and the girls had to split up. He managed to get Kati into his boat. In fact, through various tricks and machinations, he fell behind the others right at the start, and though they had agreed to row down the main branch of the Danube and the others made their way towards it, he turned to the right at the tip of the island, back to the Szentendre branch. By the time Kati realized what had happened and he had made his excuses, it was too late—too tiring and long a way to row back and catch up. So they had a full day and thirty kilometres ahead, just the two of them.

They drifted downstream slowly, the weather was heavenly, the early autumn mist hovered above the tiny ripples of the almost perfectly still water... Gossamers, gleams of sunlight, seductive peace and tranquillity. The fact that he was going to leave in a few days, which he had already told the girl, turned to his advantage; it added a special aura to their words and dissolved Kati’s tension. Kisoroszi, Bogdány. The shallow river wound its way among sandbanks and shoals. The dry, white ridges of the riverbed, not visible at other times, and in the distance, the soft outlines of the tree-studded Pilis mountains. At Goat Island, the Danube spread out into a lake, its mirror shining bright in the noonday sun and dotted by thousands upon thousands of wild ducks. As they drifted quietly towards them the ducks took off, clacking, quacking and gabbling in unison. They anchored on an abandoned stretch of grassy beach across from Leányfalu.

How they got to that point is now lost to memory. Kati broke out unexpectedly in her bitterness. She wasn’t satisfied with her life, she was fed up with the role her situation and family forced on her, and what they expected of her. She was sick and tired of meaninglessly drifting from one ball to the next, from one cocktail party to another; she’d had it with the petty intrigues, the gossip, the light, superficial flirtations, the same conversations time and again, the incessant pursuit of pleasure, the late night parties. And she envied his work, his career, the fact that he had an aim in life and even a scholarship. She wore a two-piece orange bathing suit. With her tiny waist, very long arms and legs, she represented the ideal woman of the century. On her tanned skin he could spot some scattered, sun-bleached hairs. She lay relaxed in the grass by his side, her eyes closed. All he had to do was reach out. But he didn’t even kiss her. He merely squeezed her hand once, and Kati squeezed his in return.

For a couple of days after this, he seriously considered calling off his trip. Once he even called the girl. Had she been at home then, perhaps everything would have turned out differently. As it was, though, he got caught up in a whirl of last-minute errands, visas, offices, school, applications. He was living in a rarefied atmosphere. The decision would have had too many consequences. In the end, he didn’t even say goodbye.

He discovered many more new faces in the dimly-lit church. Ubul Brenner, sweet, wise Ubul, once the manager of a great estate and lord of half county, today a translator of scientific literature, in five languages, both ways. Miska Gyulafy, stepbrother to the deceased, the “crazy Gyulafy” to the other’s “clever Gyulafy”, who wanted to prove that the Magyars had originated in Australia, and who danced the Lambeth walk with so much energy. That was the dance in which you had to stop from time to time and jerk your thumb behind your head. Kocsárd Barcza, the “Red count”, who divided his two-thousand-acre estate in Szabolcs County among his reluctant peasants in the autumn of ’44, months before the land reform came into effect. But he landed in jail anyway. And Baron Gorlitz Pasha in a loden coat, Tyrolese hat in hand. Christ, is he still among the living? He must be past ninety-five! His wife, the notorious Baroness Goritz, ran an illegal gambling club and house of ill repute. She had paid everyone off, the city council, the police, even the electric company, so that they wouldn’t remove the old-fashioned, flickering gaslamps from that part of Bajza Street, to guarantee the visitors some measure of anonymity. And Uncle Iván, unable to get a divorce, became a Mohammedan so he could marry his masseuse... And many, many others, acquaintances whose identity was now lost to him, and total strangers as well. Who were they, and where had they come from?

When the bell tolled during Transubstantiation, the entire row knelt down, except the physician and Kati Kerecsényi at the far end of the bench. Had she seen him? Did she remember him and that outing of thirty years ago? In some way he now felt it important, symbolic, that only they were standing, in this, too, differentiated from the others. A hot surge of emotion gripped him, and he fell in love with her all over again. He had left Kati, or at any rate let her go. They had exchanged a few letters, some rather explicit, but later, in more chaotic times, even this became impossible. And then he found Helga in Switzerland, and Kati met Pubi, that toothpaste-ad windbag. The war handed them a one-way ticket.

Maybe he should have stayed after all? Was that it?... The wounding question, like a dagger pointing at his heart, flashed like a threat through his mind. Although the three years with Helga were unforgettable, could they have been merely a sidetracking, a step in the wrong direction? The dear, frail creature who grew up in rarer air had perished here, in this dense atmosphere; the cause of her illness was never satisfactorily diagnosed. Could that have killed her? But then he was to blame, too, perhaps that was why he lacked sufficient strength to keep her? And Kati... Was this what she deserved? Should he have burst into her life? Rescued her from idleness, grabbed her hand when he had the chance, instead of driving her into the arms of that clown? It was his fault, too, he alone had been in a position to lift her out of her rut.

But maybe he himself was loser number one. He felt a wild bitterness, a choking pain with no relief in sight. Was that the original sin, the fact he left, and did not share the common fate? It was undoubtedly an advantage at the time when the war swept over Hungary; in those two years lightning would have struck around him too, and who was to guarantee that one flash would not have struck him? He sat in Zurich in comfort and security, and it was an advantage in a narrower, professional sense as well, from the point of view of his career as a doctor. But from a wider perspective, if you consider life as a whole, it was a horrible disadvantage, an irrevocable error. That was why he could not really understand things here, why he had always been a stranger, an outsider. He had never gone through the rite ofpassage! Can a person escape, desert the ones he loves in the time of danger, then dance back in after the storm?

But these ancien-régime waxworks, ci-devant remnants, archaeological finds and antediluvian fossils, these other-worldly spirit-bodies, he might laugh at them, but they had stayed at home then, and had never left. They all had a chance to slip out, sooner or later, to some country where they could have turned their past and rank to advantage, or where at least these things would not have been a liability to them. Yet they accepted being slighted, persecuted, humiliated, stripped of their wealth, even imprisoned in internment camps and gaol. They accepted everything with true noblesse oblige and dignity. They handed over their entailed estates with less reluctance than a fishwife her stand at the market. And though no one bothered them any more, history had broken them in body and spirit, time had laid waste these genuflecting wrecks who would never again straighten themselves, and who probably knew very well that they could expect no recompense... And even if it was fruitless, senseless and of little significance, he too must accept them, yes, fallen as they were, these absolute losers, since he had basked once, however slightly, in the light of their brilliance. After all, their former greatness still discovered itself from time to time in their erect posture and soft voices, in the way they carried their heads, in their handshakes, their glances—a last ray of light from the Eden of their youth.

The tolling and chiming and clinking of bells. Flaming candles cast fantastic shadows on the Gothic arches and pillars. The lamps were transformed into colourful Chinese lanterns, the mournful organ music became a waltz, the hard stone slabs of the flooring melted into parquetry. Servants came and went with soft drinks and champagne on trays, dancing couples floated out of the Béla Chapel. Everyone was bright, young, beautiful, wearing gorgeous clothes, the ladies and gentlemen both bejewelled. Dressed in a flaming red jacket lined with ermine, tight-fitting light blue trousers and soft leather boots and looking just like the time he was photographed on the balcony of the Alexander Palace with the other ministers whenever a new cabinet was formed, Uncle Berci was watching the crowd with pleasure and an amused smile. Ma Orsi stood beside him in seagreen velvet from cap to toe, with a train and diamond diadem. Ubul Brenner in tails came up the aisle with his snow-white bride, under the drawn swords of his fencing comrades. He wore a tuxedo and a white carnation in his lapel. Guszti Huszár of Ladány’s long, pointed moustache and Tartar eyes shone black: in a decolletée turquoise ball gown, Lula floated past flirtatiously on the arms of deputy police commissioner Korbuly-Mersich, dressed in a black Magyar jacket. The music turned into a din. With arms outstretched, Trudi Jacobi was doing the Charleston for her own entertainment, Minci with her blonde hair gently pressed against her partner as they danced the tango. In his ceremonial national jacket, Zaladár Etelaki was doing a fast Csárdás, which he accompanied with frequent yodelling. Miska Gyulafy danced the Lambeth walk and jerked his thumb behind his ears. Tibor Teleki was doing the foxtrot in his air force lieutenant’s uniform, while Pubi Lippai Kreiss, in a dinner jacket, was gliding through the English waltz with Kati Kerecsényi... He came up to them, bowed and asked Kati to dance. The girl nodded, freed herself from her beau’s arms and turned to him. They began slowly, feeling each other’s rhythm and tempo. Kati wore a strapless orange tulle gown, her long hair flowing free, her arms and shoulders bare. She was light as air: he could barely feel her weight beneath his palm, only the warmth of her skin. Without words they danced past the others, towards the stained-glass window; there, he squeezed Kati’s hand, she smiled at him, squeezed his hand in turn, they swam through the glass and out over the Fisherman’s Bastion standing silent in the crossfire of spotlights, over the dark, icy Danube, past the Parliament, towards the throbbing city sprawled out below in the cold glitter of the night.

Translated by Judith Sollosy

SOURCE: Karinthy, Ferenc. “Requiem,” translated by Judith Sollosy, in The Kiss: 20th Century Hungarian Short Stories, selected by István Bart (Budapest: Corvina, 1997), pp. 210-223.

Note: This translation was also published in:

“Requiem,” in Hungarian Short Stories, edited by Paul Varnai, introduction by Naim Kattan (Toronto: Exile Editions, 1983), pp. 34-47.

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:
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