Robert Zend
(Hungarian-Canadian writer, 1929-1985):
Dedications, Works, Links

“Being a philosopher, I have a problem for every solution.”

  Robert Zend (Quoteland)


T H E  T I T L E  O F  T H I S  B O O K  is a tribute to Frederic Karinthy (1888 - 1938), great Hungarian writer, humorist and philosopher, my spiritual father. The quoted passage comes from the poetic essay “The One and the Nothing” of his volume Who Asked You?

The poems published in this book have been picked at random from different periods and moods of my life, from 1960 to 1969. Besides writing poetry in Hungarian, since 1964 I have been writing poetry in English in increasing number. I am grateful to John Robert Colombo, friend and adviser with whom I worked to realize my Hungarian poems in English.

Many of the poems were previously published in magazines (Canadian Literature, The Tamarack Review, Earth and You, Exile) in Anthologies (Made in Canada, Volvox, The Speaking Earth) and broadcast in radio programs (Anthology, Ideas, Identities, This Country in the Morning).

*     *     *

B E T W E E N  O N E  A N D  T W O  there is a series of road-signs like “Be Bright” or “Take Care” or “Look Ahead” or “Live and Learn” or “Stretch Your Legs According To Your Coverlet” or “Work as Long As Your Wick Burns” or “Be Prepared To Fight” . . . whoever follows them will safely reach the next station, and arrive from One to Two, from Two to Three, from Three to a Million. . . .

But between Zero and One, there are no such signs, and even if there were, they wouldn’t do any good. For instance, how could you stretch your legs according to your coverlet if you have no coverlet? And how could you work as long as your wick bums if you have no wick? On the road from Zero to One there aren’t even milestones, only millstones, here and there, standing here, fallen there. For between Zero and One is the “Well, there’s nothing I can do about it” and the “I’m sorry, I’m too busy now” and the “Unfortunately, the President won’t be able to see you,” for between Zero and One there be murder and madness and impossibility.

Between Zero and One is Horror and Desperation. Between Zero and One is Instinct and Religion, Evil and Salvation. Between Zero and One is the Discovery of the World.

Yes, the mathematicians are wrong: the way from Zero to One is longer than from One to a Hundred-thousand-million . . . it is about as long as the way from life to death.

F R E D E R I C  K A R I N T H Y

SOURCE: Zend, Robert. From Zero to One, translated by Robert Zend and John Robert Colombo (Mission, BC: The Sono Nis Press, 1973), pp. [7-8].

Note: Who Asked You? = Ki kérdezett? [Cikkgyujtemény] Budapest, 1926.

See also: “Sign (for Ferenc Karinthy)”; p. 109 (with Esperanto translation “Signo” by R. Dumain).

“Among the many Hungarian writers of that age, quite a few kept their integrity. There was one, especially, who wasn’t willing to accept any label, either for himself or for others. His name was Frigyes Karinthy. He didn’t identify with any group; he belonged nowhere, but this non-belonging meant for him an extremely strong belonging to Man, to Mankind, to Humanity. As a humorist, he was tremendously popular, but as a philosopher, he hardly had any followers then. Today, most Hungarians are enthusiastic about his profound ideas. He was (and remains) my spiritual father, the Master who first inspired me to feel, to think, to express myself, to be considerate, to have high ideals, to understand others as if they were me: in other words, to write. At least that’s what it means for me to be a writer. (Of course, it means many other things too, but this is the foundation on which all those other things are built.)”

*     *     *

In a country
where everyone
is searching for
I am
an alien
for I’m already

            October 1, 1980

SOURCE: Zend, Robert. Preface: Labels, in Beyond Labels, translated by Robert Zend and John Robert Colombo (Toronto: Hounslow Press, 1982), pp. 1-10. (A Statement delivered Saturday, October 3, 1981, at the Panel Discussion on Exile, a Program of the International Writers' Congress, “The Writer and Human Rights,” in aid of Amnesty International.) These excerpts: pp. 5, 10.

Fused Personality

The deepest regions of my soul don’t seem to accept that I split my life and my self into two, in 1956.

In my dream, my mother talks to me in a Canadian-accented English, she is thirty-two years old, I am forty-five. She asks me to show her the city where I live now (or I ask her to take me around my birthplace), so we go for a long stroll.

In the middle of the city, instead of Younge Street, the river Danube (Duna) flows majestically, separating the capital into two distinct parts, the hilly Budanto on the West, and the flat Toropest on the East. She shows me Rózsadomb (Rosehill), I show her Rosedale in exchange. We like very much our (each other’s) city. The two sides are connected by nine gorgeous bridges called (going from South to North) the Front-Bridge, the King-Bridge, the Queen-Bridge, the College-Carlton-Bridge, the Bloor-Bridge, the St. Clair-Bridge and the Eglinton-Bridge; the Margit-sziget (Center-island) is connected with both banks by the Lawrence-Bridge on its South-end, and the Wilson-Bridge on its North-end. My mother is especially proud of recently built Highway 401 which wasn’t there yet when I left. She loves the view from the top of Gellert-mountain from where she can clearly see Lake Ontario, the O’Keefe Center and the New City Hall. I prefer the view from the top of the CNN Tower: the old Parliament, built in Gothic style, and the baroque Basilica (great Cathedral) are an unforgettable sight.

We go home where my father watches TV, in 1938. The Prime Minister of Hungary, János Trudeau, talks about repatriating the Constitution from Russia. I say farewell to my parents because I have to go homes to my two wives, Ibolya (Violet) in Sándor-utca, and Janine, on Austin-Terrace. I play with my two baby daughters, Aniko in 1956 and Natalie in 1972. We are (one big) two small happy families who don’t know about each other, except me.

After dinners, as usual, I go to my favourite coffee-house, the meeting-place of poets, writers, artists and musicians. On the Gallery, around a huge round table sit Karinthy, Atwood, Kosztolányi, Callaghan, Weöres, Purdy, Bartók, Gould, Kodály, Schafer, Szász, Kurelek, Kerényi, Frye and many others. The conversation is profound and witty, I am glad to belong to this tightly knit élite-group of creative people. We read (sing, show) our latest works to one another.

Then I leave them to find a quiet table, sipping my espresso coffee and chain-smoking my cigarettes, I write a poem for the excellent literary magazine called Search for Identity. I write down the title in Hungarian, but I realize that my English readership won’t understand it, so I cross it out and write it down again in English, but now I think about my oldest childhood friends who won’t be able to read it. My right hand holding the pen freezes in mid-air while I ponder the problem, but the pain in my right shoulder wakes me up. I look around in the dawning bedroom and try to sneak back into my soft and warm dream, but it has already faded away, now hard and cold objects surround me.

October 20, 1981

SOURCE: Zend, Robert. Beyond Labels, translated by Robert Zend and John Robert Colombo (Toronto: Hounslow Press, 1982), pp. 140-141. Boldface added by RD. See also Esperanto translation “Kunfandita Personeco” by R. Dumain.

*  *  *

I DEDICATE THIS BOOK to all my Ardôs (spiritual fathers and mothers):

Johann Sebastian Bach, Béla Bartók, Ludwig van Beethoven, Lucian Blaga, William Blake, Jorge Luis Borges (photo on page 35), Pieter Bruegel, Giordano Bruno, Charlie Chaplin, Beatrice Corrigan, Maurits Cornelius Escher (whose ‘Drawing Hands’ inspired page 213), Dr. Northrop Frye, József Füsi, Márta Gergely, Jesu, Tibor Kardos, Frigyes Karinthy (photo on page 21), Leonardo da Vinci (portrait on page 98), Lucretius, Imre Madách (photo on page 40), René Magritte, Thomas Mann, Christian Morgenstern, Sándor Petöfi, Luigi Pirandello, Rainer Maria Rilke, August Rodin, Arthur Schopenhauer, Socrates, Panni Surányi, Jonathan Swift, Egerton Sykes, Immanuel Velikovsky, Mihály Vörösmarty, Richard Wagner, Sándor Weöres (photo on page 27), my father, Henrik (photo on page 85) and my mother Stephanie, etc.;

SOURCE: Zend, Robert. Oāb, Book 1 & 2. Toronto: Exile Editions Ltd, 1983, 1985. [Book Two begins on downloadable PDF file p. 99.] Karinthy image: Book One, p. 21 (text also on that page) [PDF file: p. 22]. Dedication: Book Two, p. 212 [PDF file: p. 210]. Dedications continue listing ‘to all my Ze̊nds (chosen brothers and sisters)’ and ‘to all my Oābs (spiritual sons and daughters)’.

Daymares: Selected Fictions on Dreams and Time

Foreword by John Robert Colombo / ix
Metalostanza (Typescape) / 1
Introduction to an unpublished manuscript, entitled Selected Dreams / 3
A Dream about the Centre / 9
Day and Night (Tvpescape) / 13
Daymare / 15
The Dream Cycle / 21
The Rock / 23
Awakening from Dreams (Typescape) / 27
On the Terrace / 29
Armour / 35
Beyond the Fable Ocean / 41
Chapter Fifty-Six / 55
Aleph / 69
The End of the World / 77
Waiting / 83
Antihistory / 87
Apartment House / 91
Taviella / 97
Madouce, love poems / 103
Tusha and Time 119
My Baby Brother / 125
The King of Rubik / 133
The Ballade of Christian Gringoire / 147
Amun-Kufu (Typescape) / 161
Magellan’s Tombstone / 163
After I Die / 181
Afterword by Northrop Frye / 184

SOURCE: Zend, Robert. Daymares: Selected Fictions on Dreams and Time, edited by Brian Wyatt, foreword by John Robert Colombo, afterword by Northrop Frye. Vancouver: Cacanadadada Press, 1991. 186 pp.

Note, e.g.:

See also:

Schmidt, Carola. Dreamfiction as narrative art in Robert Zend’s Daymares. Thesis, Ottawa, Dept. of English, Carlton University, 1993.

John Robert Colombo on Robert Zend

(selected observations by R. Dumain)

When Robert Zend flew to Argentina to meet Jorge Luis Borges, Zend posed a question posed to him by his friend John Robert Colombo in Canada. Zend asked Borges: “What do you think about when you think about Canada?” Borges replied: “Canada is so far away it hardly exists.”

Hungarian physicist Leo Szilard debated the existence of extraterrestrial life with Enrico Fermi. Szilard took the pro position; Fermi was skeptical. Fermi asked, if there are aliens, how come they haven’t come to Earth? Szilard responded: “They are already among us, but they call themselves Hungarians.”

Colombo says that Zend, whether writing in his native Hungarian or in English, seemed to be writing in both as if in a foreign language, his fluency in both notwithstanding. Whether his work was written in English, or translated by him or with someone else into English, “his English work always sounds somewhat abstract and ‘translated’.”

“What is the nature of this language or translator-ese? Is it an Esperanto of the spirit, the interlingual of George Steiner’s dreams? Is it the ultimate literary language of the planet Earth?”

SOURCE: Colombo, John Robert. “Foreword” (June 18, 1975), in Daymares: Selected Fictions on Dreams and Time, by Robert Zend, edited by Brian Wyatt, afterword by Northrop Frye (Vancouver: Cacanadadada Press, 1991), pp. ix-xiii. “Esperanto” boldfaced by RD.

Political Satire in Hungarian Exile Literature

“In conclusion, satire in Hungarian exile literature, at least in the works of Vizinczey and Géfin, but also, for example, in the work of the second-generation British-Hungarian Tibor Fisher in his Under the Frog (1992) or in the writings of Robert Zend’s Nicolette (1993), marks an important departure from the traditional narratives of historical fiction, autobiographical or other.”

— Steven Tötösy de Zepetnek, “Political Satire in Hungarian Exile Literature: Systemic Considerations,” in The Search for A New Alphabet: Literary Studies in a Changing World: In Honor of Douwe Fokkema, edited by Harald Hendrix et al (Amsterdam; Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company, 1996), pp. 250-255.

George Bisztray on Hungarian-Canadian Literature

Are Canadians familiar with Hungarian-Canadian literature? Perhaps to a moderate degree, or in general terms. But only if we take that segment of this literature into consideration which was either written in or translated into English. John Marlyn’s Under the Ribs of Death is a Canadian classic, Stephen Vizinczey is well known, and the poems of Robert Zend or the second generation Nancy Toth, and the immigrant Eva Tihanyi, are occasionally mentioned in literary circles or publications. Otherwise, unfortunately, even scholars of Canadian literature or ethnohistory are unaware of the dimensions of Hungarian-Canadian literature.

*     *     *

Zend, Robert: Born in 1929 in Budapest, graduated from the Péter Pázmány University. Came to Toronto in 1956, where he has lived until his death in 1985. Worked for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. His poems appeared in periodicals and anthologies. Published several books of poems in English and Hungarian, including From Zero to One (1973), Beyond Labels (1982), Oab (1985), Three Roberts (1985), Fából vaskarikatúrák (1993).

SOURCE: Bisztray, George. “Their Language is Their Destiny,” Introduction to Blessed Harbours: An Anthology of Hungarian-Canadian Authors, edited by John Miska (Toronto; Buffalo: Guernica, 2002), pp. 15-17. This quote, p. 16. Biographical note, p. 256. Book: 260, [1] pp. Includes Zend’s “Oāb’s Lullaby,” pp. 245-248 (from Oāb, vol. 2).

Zend’s unpublished illustrated 1979 translation of the Hungarian classic verse drama The Tragedy of Man by Imre Madách is located in the Zend Archives at the University of Toronto.

Robert Zend: Selected Volumes: Tables of Contents of ...

From Zero to One (1973)
Beyond Labels (1982)
A Bouquet to Bip: A Tribute to Marcel Marceau” (Exile, 1972)
A Bunch of Proses” (Exile, 1974) [Note “The Key” co-authored with Jorge Luis Borges]
Daymares: Selected Fictions on Dreams and Time (1991)

Robert Zend & Esperanto

I have been informed that Robert Zend was enthusiastic about Esperanto. (Note also Colombo’s remarks on Zend’s language, above.) I will supply whatever further information surfaces. I have written or spoken about Zend in my English and Esperanto articles and podcasts about Frigyes Karinthy (also an Esperantist) and other Hungarian writers and have cited Zend in my blogs. I plan to publish my own Esperanto translations of some of Zend’s work as well as an article about him in Esperanto. Note that my podcasts on Karinthy and Zend are mostly about their literary efforts, the Esperanto connection is not the primary focus.

An Esperanto version of this page (but somewhat different) can be found here: Robert Zend en Esperanto.

— RD

Vojaĝo al hungara literaturo, tereno nekonata” [Voyage to Hungarian literature, a terrain unknown], Kontakto, n-ro 271 (2016: 1), p. 12-15. Jen PDF-dosiero laŭ apero en Kontakto. La redaktoro mencias R. Dumain & hungaran literaturon ĉe p. 3 & 8.

“La vivo, verkaro kaj muzikaj robotoj de Frigyes Karinthy” [The life, work, and musical robots of Frigyes Karinthy], Beletra Almanako, n-ro 27, oktobro 2016, p. 97-112. “Konkludo” (p. 107), pri Zend: De Madách al Karinthy al Szathmári & Zend.

Robert Zend @ Ĝirafo (Esperanto blog)

Podcasts: Descriptions at Studies in a Dying Culture radio show (sponsored by Think Twice Radio):

05/07/16 Frigyes Karinthy: the Hungarian Swift & his musical robots (sound file, 57 min.) by R. Dumain
               (influence on Zend mentioned at 50:30)

05/26/17 Robert Zend: Between Budapest & Toronto, Between Zero & One, Between Dream & Reality (sound file, 51 min.) by R. Dumain

Robert Zend (1929-1985): Hungarian-Canadian writer . . . & Esperantist (blog post)

Sound recordings of Zend’s work

Robert Zend, Hungarian-Canadian writer (1929-1985): selected poems in English with Esperanto translations by Ralph Dumain
Recorded 12-13 August 2017. 32 min.

Translations of Zend’s works by R. Dumain

“Sign (for Ferenc Karinthy)” / “Signo”

“Office Memo”& “God Dead?” / “Oficeja memorando” & “Dio mortinta?”

“Enigma” / “Enigmo”

“About Souls" - “This Haiku” - “Utopia” - “The Next Day” / “Pri Animoj” - “Ĉi tiu hajko” - “Utopio” - “La Sekvanta Tago”

“A Love Letter” / “Amletero”

“In Transit” & “Fused Personality” / “Transire” & “Kunfandita Personeco”

5980 A.D.

Enkonduko al nepublikigita manuskripto kun la titolo “Elektitaj sonĝoj”’ [“Introduction to an unpublished manuscript entitled Selected Dreams” (18 June 1975)], en Beletra Almanako, n-ro 30, oktobro 2017, p. 91-95.

Sur la teraso” [“On the terrace” (1975)], en Beletra Almanako, n-ro 33, oktobro 2018, p. 83-85.

The Robert Zend Website

Zend in Esperanto

All works by Robert Zend © Janine Zend, all rights reserved. See The Robert Zend Website for further information and to make financial contributions to support Zend’s publications in English.

Key Links:

The Robert Zend Website

Links to work of R. Dumain:

Books referenced on this page (you are reading):

Camille Martin: Rogue Embryo: a blog about poetry, collage, photography, whatnot
(Boldfaced links of special interest to me. — RD)

Other works by Zend online

»the months of the super year« by robert zend

Other writings about Zend online

Sherïill Grāce, “In the Name-of-the-Father: Robert Zend’s “Oāb” (or the up(Z)ėnding of trïdution),” Canadian Literature, no. 120, Spring 1989, pp. 91-97. (Special issue: Slavic and East European Connections)

Stephen Morrissey, Review of Robert Zend’s Oāb (2007)

Dumain on Zend in English

Robert Zend’s Novel Novel Nicolette: Not Quite a Review

Dumain blogs

Robert Zend @ Reason & Society

Robert Zend @ Ĝirafo

Dumain podcasts

Descriptions at Studies in a Dying Culture radio show (sponsored by Think Twice Radio):

05/26/17 Robert Zend: Between Budapest & Toronto, Between Zero & One, Between Dream & Reality (sound file, 51 min.) by R. Dumain

Robert Zend (1929-1985): Hungarian-Canadian writer . . . & Esperantist (blog post)

05/07/16 Frigyes Karinthy: the Hungarian Swift & his musical robots (sound file, 57 min.) by R. Dumain
               (influence on Zend mentioned at 50:30)

Keywords / Rubrikoj:

alienation, alternate history, Ardôs, avant-garde, bibliography, Bip, Budapest, Camille Martin, Canada, Canadian literature, Charlie Chaplin, comparative literature, concrete poetry, cosmopolitanism, Daymares, dedication, dream, exile, fantasy, fiction, Ferenc Karinthy, Frederick Karinthy, Frigyes Karinthy, Genesis, graphic art, humanism, humor, humour, Hungarian literature, Hungary, identity, Imre Madách, individualism, influence, John Robert Colombo, Jonathan Swift, Jorge Luis Borges, labels, Marcel Marceau, M. C. Escher, Maurits Cornelius Escher, metafiction, mixed media, multimedia, myth, mythology, narrative, Oāb, philosophy, poetry, precursors, Rainer Maria Rilke, René Magritte, Robert Zend, satire, science fiction, Toronto, translation, tribute, typescape, uchronia, utopia, web guide, web links, William Blake

Esperanto: avangarda, azilo, beletro, bibliografio, Edeno, ekzilo, etikedoj, fantazio, fikcio, filozofio, Frederiko Karinthy, fremdeco, Genezo, gvidilo, humanismo, humuro, hungara, Hungario, Hungarujo, identeco, individuismo, kanada, Kanado, literaturo, omaĝo, poezio, retgvidilo, Robert Zend, Sándor Szathmári, satiro, sciencfikcio, traduko, utopio

“Sign (for Ferenc Karinthy)” / “Signo”
by Robert Zend, Esperanto translation by R. Dumain

Robert Zend: Selected Volumes: Tables of Contents

Robert Zend en Esperanto

Ways of Thinking (artificial intelligence, cognitive science, Hungarian literature)
by László Mérő

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

Frigyes & Ferenc Karinthy in English

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

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

Johannes Linnankoski (Pseudonym of Johannes Vihtori Peltonen, 1869-1913):
Literature in English & Esperanto

From Eden to Cain: Unorthodox Interpretations & Literary Transformations:
Selected Bibliography

De Edeno al Kaino:
Malkutimaj Interpretoj & Literaturaj Pritraktoj en Esperanto:

Gulliver's Travels. Part III.
A Voyage to Laputa, Balnibarbi, Luggnagg, Glubbdubdrib, and Japan. Chapter V (extract)

by Jonathan Swift

Rainer Maria Rilke on Being and the Transitory

“The Common Well” (To Charles Chaplin) by Piet Hein

Écrits Complets par René Magritte
(contents & indexes)

2 poems for M. C. Escher
by Ralph Dumain

Borges, Magritte, & Escher
by R. Dumain

Jorge Luis Borges: Selected Study Materials on the Web

Jorge Luis Borges en Esperanto

Surrealism: Selected Links

William Blake Study Guide

William Blake en Esperanto

Géza OTTLIK (1912 - 1990) Study Guide & Bibliography

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

Sciencfikcio & Utopia Literaturo en Esperanto /
Science Fiction & Utopian Literature in Esperanto:
Gvidilo / A Guide

Esperanto & Interlinguistics Study Guide / Retgvidilo pri Esperanto & Interlingvistiko

Home Page | Site Map | What's New | Coming Attractions | Book News
Bibliography | Mini-Bibliographies | Study Guides | Special Sections
My Writings | Other Authors' Texts | Philosophical Quotations
Blogs | Images & Sounds | External Links

CONTACT Ralph Dumain

Uploaded 24 November 2015
Last update 23 August 2022
Previous update 12 May 2019

Site ©1999-2022 Ralph Dumain