Attila József (1905 - 1937)
Attila József the son of a labourer and a washerwoman is now generally recognised as one of the most original exponents of modern European poetry. His Curriculum Vitae reads like an indictment of the have-nots against the haves, for deprivation and misfortune, fate and class conspired against a proletarian nonconformist who came too soon.
His Romanian-born father deserted the family when the boy was only four; the mother was crushed under the weight of raising three children,.Attila tried his hand at various trades but cared only for poetry. He became a student in Szeged where he read French and Hungarian philology, but his poem With a Pure Heart (1925) cost him his university career. He was accused of advancing atheistic and revolutionary ideas. He went to Vienna, where he read Marxism and Freudian psychology voraciously. Next, he moved to Paris where he tried to write in French. His first volume was The Beggar of Beauty [A szépség koldusa] and the last The Pain is Sharp [Nagyon fáj]. He became a member of the illegal Communist Party, but as his friend of those years Ferenc Fejtő remembers, in the mid thirties they both left the party for ideological disagreement. Later he developed schizophrenia and finally committed suicide by jumping under the wheels of a train.
His is an incandescent intellectual poetry, rich in forms ranging from the sonnet to Alcaics and Sapphics, replete with a new vocabulary, a tactile imagery and lulling rhythm, playfulness, philosophy, and wisdom.
For copyright reasons regrettably not included.