Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Confessions of a citizen (Egy polgár vallomásai) - Sándor Márai

Some chapters of this book read like an autobiography, others like a travel diary. And yet, the whole work is probably neither. It starts with the author's upbringing in a Magyar hometown, before WWI put an end to the Austro-Hungarian empire. After that Sándor Márai started to travel abroad. This is a summary of those years: a collection of impressions, experiences and encounters of a clever, refined, erudite and restless young man, moving around Europe between the two world wars. Tension is in the air. Excitement, desperation and extravagance as well.

Germany is moving fast from the end of a drama to the beginning of another one. Paris is host to a multitude of foreign artists, businessmen, aristocrats and politicians, while the locals enjoy the pleasant feeling of having won the war. Italy is the scene of Mussolini’s fascism rise to power and England is a decadent empire.

Exquisitely written, full of insights, at some points it reminded me of De Amicis' "Madrid" or Pamuk's "Istanbul". The only issue with this book is that there apparently isn’t an English translation. Read it if you are fluent in Hungarian, French, German, Italian or Spanish.

No comments: