Christina PETER



An Annotated Bibliography


            The purpose of the present paper is to present a cross-section of Hungarian poetry in English translation over a period of time, and to investigate through the means of a bibliography whether the poetic output of the Hungarian nation, defined for the purposes of this paper as a linguistic rather than a political entity, has made a presence in the international literary mainstream.[1]

Hungarians in their native country are set apart from their neighbors, all of whom are speakers of Indo-European Latin, German or Slavonic) languages, by their isolated Finno-Ugrian tongue (Finnish and Estonian are the major related languages). Non-literary works of art – e.g. the music of Béla Bartók, the photographs of André Kertész, the paintings of László Moholy-Nagy, the designs of Marcel Breuer, to name only a few – which are not subject to limitations of access imposed by language, enjoy a wide reputation and have earned international recognition for their Hungarian-born creators. However, Hungarian literature can reach non-native readers only by means of translation.[2] Thus the bibliographic family of the work of leading Hungarian poets generally contains numerous derivations, typically translations into various foreign languages, some of which include the original text, while others contain only the derived text.


Comprehensiveness. Rather than charting the comprehensive bibliography of the work of a few selected writers, my aim was to demonstrate the wealth and variety of both the original literature and its derivative forms over a given period of time.

Literary genre. The focus of the present bibliography is a single literary genre genre, poetry. I also included a small and by no means comprehensive section on criticism and interpretation.

My personal preferences aside, it makes sense in the context of Hungarian literature to focus research on poetry alone, as it has assumed the role of leading literary genre from the earliest period of vernacular literature. In a country that suffered under oppression by foreign powers for most of its history between the 16th and 20th centuries, it became the mission of poets to serve as the living conscience of their people.  William Jay Smith in his introduction to Charon's Ferry quotes Miklós Vajda on the subject:

                "Poetry, which cannot be shelled like a city, or whitewashed like murals, crushed like sculpture, closed like theaters, or even banned and censored as easily as novels and journals, can spread and be influential even without print or manuscript. And so it dominated the literature of a people that had to live under difficult conditions, luring the best talents and forcing them to lead dangerous lives and produce extraordinary achievements."[3]

Those who read poetry for lyrical expression, for reflections of the personal and the intimate might be surprised to find that in most cases Hungarian poetry is imbued with a strong sense of social and political commitment, an almost missionary zeal, a prophetic ardor on the part of the poets.[4] According to György Petri, to write political poetry is “a moral obligation, because [under Communism] there was no normal canalization for the expression of political opinion”.[5] Endre Ady, a leading turn-of-the-century poet often used language reminiscent of the Old Testament and assumed the role of the prophet Jeremiah. The greatest poets, e.g. Attila József or Miklós Radnóti, managed to achieve a unique synthesis of the personal and the political, of lyrical expression and social content. József’s On the Edge of the City or My Country (see no. 14) present a social panorama reminiscent of the great 19th century novels, while Radnóti’s I Know Not What (see no. 34) is a moving testimony of commitment to the motherland by a poet of Jewish descent rejected and soon to be killed by the same country.

Space. The term “Hungarian poetry” sounds simple enough, yet matters became somewhat complicated when it came to works created outside the country’s borders. I included all work originally written in the Hungarian language and then translated into English, irrespective of the author’s country of residence, and I did not create separate categories for poets living in different countries. From a literary perspective, this decision served well Sándor Kányádi, an ethnic Hungarian poet living in Romania whose work can easily be placed alongside the mainstream Hungarian tradition, but it seemed somewhat arbitrary in the case of Canadian poets of Hungarian descent, who are less easily classified along the same lines.

Time. Defining a meaningful chronological sequence proved a challenging and ultimately somewhat frustrating experience. I wanted to focus my research on publications of the recent years, and following Dr. Richard  Smiraglia’s suggestion I chose 1989 -  the historic year when Soviet  dominance ended and the socialist system of the previous 40 years collapsed -  as my starting point. This seemed reasonable enough for various reasons: first of all, the year marked a turning-point for certain poets who were not allowed to publish in the preceding period (e.g. György Petri in the early 80s, or János Pilinszky between 1949 and 1959), and second, the state-subsidized system of book publishing in Hungary collapsed together with the socialist state, making way for small private publishers. In the end I found that from the perspective of translations none of these factors made a significant difference; rather, a continuing, steady expansion, an extremely fruitful collaboration between Hungarian and English translators, a parallel growth in publications both in Hungary and abroad can be observed from the early to mid-seventies to the present day. Many of the poems considered here had been previously published in literary reviews; the translation copyrights often go back 5, 8 10 years. It seems that in literature and culture, 1989 was the culminating event of a thaw that started at least 10-15 years earlier, and that manifested itself in cultural exchanges, Hungarian writers traveling abroad on scholarships or as visiting professors (e.g. Ottó Orbán’s The Journey of Barbarus grew out of his year of traveling across the US), and English and American poets (Bruce Berlind, William Jay Smith) spending extended periods of time in Hungary as guests of the Hungarian PEN Club or on various fellowships. Even those Hungarian translators and scholars who fled the country after the failed 1956 uprising for political reasons were welcomed back with open arms. In this respect, cultural policy was in the forefront of the general political thaw. On the Hungarian side, the state-sponsored English-language social and literary review The New Hungarian Quarterly, used in some ways as an image-making propaganda tool by the state but at the same time maintaining very high literary standards, the less politicized multilingual poetry review Arion published in the 70s and 80s, the Hungarian PEN Club and the foreign-language publisher Corvina played a prominent role in fostering cultural relations and promoting translations. The 90s saw the emergence of new foreign-language publishing houses alongside Corvina (the bilingual series of the publisher Maecenas is worth mentioning). Some major retrospective anthologies were published in this decade, again, mostly as a result of international cooperation, and a few new translators appeared on the scene, among them the exceptionally talented Hungarian-born British translator Peter Zollman.

                Level of description.  In the present paper I only considered poems collected in monographs; I did not examine individual poems published in poetry reviews, eliminating this way The New Hungarian Quarterly, published in Hungary and now available online,[6] as well as Modern Poetry in Translation.[7] I felt justified in my decision by the fact that most poems originally published in journals eventually made it into anthologies.

A Word about Translators and Translations

            “Lyric poetry, the chief asset of Hungarian literature, is almost untranslatable. This is all the more distressing, because the composite character of Hungarian literature found its real expression in a multicolored lyric poetry.”[8] This sentiment is echoed many times over in the introductory essays of the volumes included here. At the same time, many translators happily face the challenge, proven by the fact that some of the poems appear in a variety of translations. 

English translators of Hungarian poetry fall into two main groups: bilingual translators (George Szirtes, George Gömöri, Thomas Kabdebo, John Bátki, Péter Zollman), and poets with no or very basic knowledge of Hungarian (Edwin Morgan, Ted Hughes, William Jay Smith) who work from a “rough,” verbatim translation prepared by their Hungarian counterparts.

 Members of the former group are usually ethnic Hungarians who fled the country for political reasons, mostly in the aftermath of the 1956 uprising. Some of them became poets in their own right and published their original work in English. This created certain complications from a bibliographical perspective. George Szirtes, a Hungarian-born British poet and one of the most prolific translators is a case in the matter. I included here two volumes of his selected poetry, Bridge Passages and Blind Field (see nos. 39 and 40), both of which contain a few translations from the Hungarian along with the poet’s original work in English, but I omitted his Selected Poems (1996) or The Budapest File, even though the author refers to the latter collection in his preface as his “Hungarian” poems which “look to a phantasmal Budapest as their hub,”[9] because they were written exclusively in English.[10]

            In the case of translators not familiar with the Hungarian language, collaborative efforts are not uncommon. Some translators work in pairs, as e.g. Zsuzsanna Ozsvath and Frederick Turner, or George Gömöri and George Wilmer; in these instances the translations are often credited as joint efforts.

            Translators have different concepts about how to best convey the intellectual content of the original work. Some are anxious to follow the original as closely as possible. (“Wherever possible, I tried to follow the syllable count and rhyme scheme of József’s lines,” states John Bátki[11], a champion of “literary”, word-by-word translation). Others try to recreate or evoke the original form -   at times to the detriment of the contents. (Kosztolányi’s Ilona rendered by Zollman as Melanie is a masterpiece of formal virtuosity).[12] The relationship between the original and the derivative work is beautifully summarized by Peter Denman in his foreword to Poems and Fragments by Attila József:

                “One of the pleasures of reading poetry in translation lies in observing the creative frictions and correspondences between a source text and a translating poet. The original source - what a 'muse poet' would term 'inspiration' - is already verbalised, set down in the words of another language; this is now the starting point for a new poem. Translations thus enable us to see a poetry in a double vision; we look back through the finished translation to the begetting work, but we also see something of the distance travelled in making the translation. The distance between the original and the version varies. A version may swerve off into the gravity field of the translator and the receiving culture, or it may stay close to the originating sensibility, attempting to find correspondences for the source text.”[13]

 Although a fascinating subject, it is not the purpose of this paper to compare and evaluate different translations; indeed, I refrained from commenting on the quality of translations in my annotations. Predictably, the volumes I examined varied in quality of translation, ranging from the work of enthusiastic amateurs through the solid if somewhat unimaginative versions by literary scholars, who tend to approach the original text with humility and a commitment to verbatim faithfulness, to outstanding renderings by major poets (Edwin Morgan, William Jay Smith or Ted Hughes), whose English version is comparable to the original in quality. It has to be stated that in most cases the translated poems reflect thorough scholarship and collaborative efforts by the word-by-word translator, the translator and the editor. It is worth quoting here from Ádám Makkai's introduction to In Quest of the 'Miracle Stag,'[14] describing how in the early 60s Ladislas Gara in France “invented what came to be known as the ‘Gara Method of Translation’”:

            “The Editor, helped by a team of volunteer co-editors, prepares a word-for-word, indeed morpheme for-morpheme 'Pidgin-French' (or in our case, 'Pidgin-English') translation to help the native poet-translators appreciate the grammatical structure of the text at hand. This is accompanied by a free prose translation in idiomatic Target Language diction without any regard for the rhyme and meter of the original piece. Then, in order to help the translators appreciate the sound of the original, the editors create a series of mock stanzas in the Target Language - this time without regard for the meaning of the original - solely in order to suggest a rhythmic and rhyming pattern that may be followed.

                In order to make the package complete, the editor and his colleagues should also add a tape-recorded reading of the poem in the original Source Language (Hungarian in our case) in educated and clear poetic diction.”



            I arranged the entries into four sections: single-author volumes; anthologies of Hungarian poetry; general anthologies of poetry featuring Hungarian poems; and finally, secondary sources on the monographic level (biographies, criticism and interpretation). Within the sections the arrangement is by author-date.

            I numbered the entries consecutively. I marked by an asterisk those entries that I could not physically examine because they were not available in libraries in the New York area.

            A few of the volumes I examined were bilingual; the majority contained English language text only. I always indicated the presence of bilingual texts in the annotations.

            In the case of the titles I was able to physically examine, I tried to include the number of poems and list all the translators in the annotations, except for some major anthologies.


*1. Bari, Károly. Winter Diary: Poems. Edited by Dezsö Benedek. Translated by Dezsö Benedek, Endre Farkas and Laura Schiff. San Francisco: Mercury House, 1997.

Selections from the work of the Hungarian poet, born in 1952. Contains colored illustrations.

2. Csoóri, Sándor. Selected Poems of Sándor Csoóri. Translated by Len Roberts. [Port Townsend]: Copper Canyon Press, 1992.

Seventy-six poems by Csoóri, born in 1930, presented in reverse chronological order and arranged into three sections (1982-[1992], 1973-1982, and 1962-1973. With an introduction by the translator. Roberts places Csoóri in the populist-nationalist literary tradition – called here somewhat awkwardly “fate-literature,” – and calls him one of the most prominent representatives of the post-war school of poets along with Ferenc Juhász and László Nagy. It was this group that continued the tradition of Sándor Petöfi, Endre Ady and Gyula Illyés. Roberts also stresses the poet’s commitment to individual responsibility and traditional folk culture, stating that he successfully linked the rural and urban traditions in his work.

*3. Füst, Milán. 25 Poems. 25 vers. Translated by István Tótfalusi. Budapest: Maecenas, 1990.

A bilingual selection from the poems of Hungarian novelist, playwright and poet Milán Füst  (1888-1967). With an afterword by István Tótfalusi, and notes.

*4. Gergely, Ágnes. Requiem for a Sunbird: Forty Poems. Translated by Bruce Berlind et al. Budapest: Maecenas, 1997.

Selections from the work of the poet, born in 1933.

5. Gömöri, George. My Manifold City: Poems. Translated from the Hungarian by Clive Wilmer and the author. Cambridge: The Alba Press, 1996.

A selection of thirty-one poems, written in Hungarian by Gömöri between 1958 and 1995.

*6. Határ, Victor. The Right to Sanity: A Victor Hatar Reader. Translated by George F. Cushing. Budapest: Corvina, 1999.

Selections from the work of the émigré writer, born in 1914.

7. Illyés, Gyula. What You Have Almost Forgotten: Selected Poems by Gyula Illyés. Edited and with an introduction by William Jay Smith. Budapest: Kortárs Kiadó; Willimantic, CT.: Curbstone Press, 1999.

Fifty-four poems by  Illyés (1902-1983) rendered into English by nineteen translators. In the introduction Smith refers to Illyés as a lyric realist, and compares him to composer Béla Bartók, as they both drew their deepest inspiration from folk roots.

8. ---. Charon's Ferry: Fifty Poems. Translated from the Hungarian and with an introduction by Bruce Berlind. Writings from an Unbound Europe. Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press, 2000.

Berlind in his introduction refers to Illyés as “the conscience of his people,” and states that Illyés “was a poet of the people in a sense unknown in the West.” Sandburg and Whitman are mentioned as possible parallels. According to Berlind, Illyés's poems are “rooted in cultural values, incorporate cultural motifs, and have behind them the weight of Hungarian history, particularly its history of suppressions and survivals. The result is lyric, ostensibly personal, poetry which, however, resonates … in a political way” (Introduction).

*9. ---. One Sentence on Tyranny. Translated by Károly Nagy and Pál Tábori. [New Jersey?]: K.N., 1993.

A translation of Illyés's famous poem written in 1950 and first published during the 1956 uprising.

10. József, Attila. Fragments. Translated by Edwin Morgan. Morning Star Folio, no. 3/1. Edinburgh: Morning Star Publications, 1992.

The examined copy is no. 187 of a limited edition of 300 of József’s fragments (i.e. his short, epigrammatic poems) in Morgan’s translation. The English version is written out in hand and illustrated by John Byrne.

*11.  ---. A for Attila: An ABC of Poems by Attila József. Attilával kezdjük: József Attila versek ABC-sorrendben. Selected and translated by Thomas Kabdebo. Budapest: M. Felsöoktatás, 1994.

A bilingual edition of poems by Attila József, published by a Hungarian college textbook publisher.

12. ---. Winter Night: Selected Poems of Attila József. Field Translation Series, vol. 23. Translated from the Hungarian and introduced by John Bátki. Oberlin, OH. : Oberlin College Press, 1997.

Ninety-two poems by József (1905-1937), arranged chronologically, as well as a translation of the Curriculum Vitae, written in prose shortly before the poet's death. In his introduction Bátki compares József to Kerouac (“both poets are preoccupied with the pain and sadness of existence, both are ever mindful of emptiness,” and links József's 1933 poem entitled Winter Night to a quote from Kerouac's The Town and the City, expressing a very similar sentiment to József's poem: “Your winter night … all merciless and hopeless, the one that kills you in the end”), and to Allen Ginsberg, drawing some line-by-line parallels between József's and Ginsberg's poems. With regard to his views on translating, Bátki states: “My versions, I trust, err on the side of overfaithfulness to the literal meaning and form of the originals.” A short chronology of József's life is included.

*13. ---. After Attila: Fragments after Attila József and Postcards from Budapest. Translated by Michael Murphy. Beeston, Nottingham: Shoestring Press, 1998.

A mixture of Murphy’s translations from József and his original poems.

14. ---. The Iron-Blue Vault: Selected Poems. Translated by Zsuzsanna Ozsváth and Frederick Turner. Newcastle upon Tyne: Bloodaxe Books, 1999.

Sixty-eight poems presented in chronological order, in collaborative translation by Hungarian-American scholar Zsuzsanna Ozsváth and American poet Frederick Turner. With two essays: ‘Sun-bedazzled, Dream-afflicted’: The Search for Attila József by Zsuzsanna Ozsváth, and The Ars Poetica of Attila József, by Frederick Turner. Ozsváth’s lengthy essay (over 30 pages, complete with photos) discusses the socio-cultural background of József's art, and offers an analysis close to the traditional Marxist narrative of József’s life against the historic context of Hungary drifting towards Nazism in the 30s, while Turner’s similarly detailed essay discusses the philosophical underpinnings of József's poetry on a popular level.

15. ---. Perched on Nothing's Branch: Selected Poetry of Attila József. Terra Incognita Series, vol. 6.  5th, rev. ed. Translated by Peter Hargitai. Buffalo, NY.: White Pine Press, 1999.

Forty poems (as well as the prose Curriculum Vitae) selected by the translator, reflecting his interest in the personal and psychological aspects of József’s poetry (none of the great socially motivated or philosophically oriented poems are included; also absent are the later love poems), presented in chronological order, “following Attila József's journey from the adolescent ebullience … through his piercing landscapes of despair and renewal, toward the ultimate disillusionment” (Preface to the Fifth Edition). With a preface by Peter Hargitai and a foreword by Maxine Kumin. In her foreword Kumin examines József’s poetry in light of his tragic life and compares him to “suicide poets” Sylvia Plath, Hart Crane, Anne Sexton, John Berryman and Paul Celan, defying the notion of appreciating József as a politically committed poet. Hargitai, who is referred to in the publisher's blurb as “a free translator in the tradition of Ezra Pound's translations from the Chinese,” reflecting on his translating techniques, states: “I have allowed myself the freedom to sacrifice, at times, mirror-image fidelity for the sake of creating a better poem in English.”

16. ---. Poems and Fragments.  Edited by Thomas Kabdebo. Translated by John Bátki et al. Budapest: Argumentum; Maynooth: Cardinal Press, 1999.

Contains sixty-two poems by József (1905-1937) to commemorate the 62nd anniversary of the poet's death, and thirty-eight fragments. The English versions are the work of twenty-nine translators. Editor and translator Thomas Kabdebo, a József scholar and author of a biography of the poet who also wrote the introduction, “decided to assemble in an anthology the best English translation of József's poetry from all available sources” (Introduction), drawing from seven published and two unpublished collections as well as from some twenty-odd journals, in addition to his own translations, and induced a few Irish poets to tackle József's previously untranslated poetry. The section of the finished poems, in reverse chronological order, is followed by the fragments. Peter Denman in his foreword places József's work in a broad international context and offers some succinct notes on translation in general, while an essay by Hungarian literary scholar Miklós Szabolcsi contains the essayist's personal reminiscences about the poet.

17. ---. Attila József: Sixty Poems. Translated by Edwin Morgan. Glasgow: Mariscat Press, 2001.

A compact volume, with a short (page-long) foreword by the translator, presenting the more meditative, personal aspect of József's poetry.

*18. Kányádi, Sándor. 45 Poems. 45 vers. Translated from the Hungarian by István Tótfalusi. Budapest: Maecenas, 1999.

A bilingual collection of poems by the ethnic Hungarian poet (b. 1929) living in Transylvania, Romania, with parallel texts in English and Hungarian.

19. ---. There is A Land: Selected Poems. Selected and translated by Peter Zollman. Budapest: Corvina, 2000.

A collection of forty-three poems. With a preface by George Szirtes, biographical notes, translator's notes and a list of Hungarian titles. Both Szirtes and the translator touch on the question of writing poetry in a language spoken by an ethnic minority group of a particular country (in this case, Romania), stressing at the same time Kányádi's reconciliatory stance. “The danger for Kányádi is less that he should be engulfed in a terrible civil war but that his language and culture may disappear. He is not in any sense a combatively ‘patriotic’ poet, but he is aware of the dangers of forced extinction. It is this danger that animates the majority of the poems in the book” (Preface).

20. ---. Dancing Embers. Translated and selected by Paul Sohar. Prague: Twisted Spoon Press, 2002.

One-hundred and five poems in eight sections: Vertical Horses (1963-1968), Black-and Red Verses (1965-1972), Poems about Poetry (1974-1977), All Souls’ Day in Vienna (1976), Unadorned Songs (1979-1985), Space-Crossing Gate (1985-1988), There are Regions (1980-1992) and Late Poems (1990-2000). With a foreword by Katherine McNamara, notes by the translator, and biographical notes on the author and the translator. McNamara in her essay searches for meaning that the foreign readers can grasp beyond the historical references and cultural allusions, and finds it in the “deep, grinding sorrow” permeating many of the poems. She points out the Lutheran motifs, and the way the poet employs “the subversive irony of art in magnificent, hopeless defense against a God – or an earthly ruler – by whom no absolution is given” (Foreword).

21. Kosztolányi, Dezsö. Dezsö Kosztolányi: 36 Poems: From the Hungarian by Peter Zollman. Kosztolányi Dezsö: 36 vers: angolra fordította Peter Zollman. Budapest: Maecenas, 2000.

A bilingual collection of poems with parallel texts in Hungarian and English, selected by Hungarian-born British translator Peter Zollman, with an afterword by István Tótfalusi. The poems are arranged chronologically from 1905 to 1936, representing all major periods in the oeuvre of Dezsö Kosztolányi (1885-1936), a poet and novelist affiliated with the prominent artists’ group centered around the literary review “Nyugat” (Occident).

*22. Mezey, Katalin. Again and Again: Poems. Újra meg újra: versek. Translated by Nicholas Kolumban. Budapest: Remetei Kéziratok, 1995.

A bilingual volume with parallel texts selected from the poetry of Mezey (b. 1943).

*23. Oravecz, Imre. When You Became She. Translated from the Hungarian and introduced by Bruce Berlind. Riverside, CA.: Xenos Books, 1994.

 A selection from the work of the poet, born in 1943.

24. Orbán, Ottó. The Blood of the Walsungs: Selected Poems. Edited and introduced by George Szirtes. Budapest: Corvina; Newcastle upon Tyne: Bloodaxe Books, 1993.

Sixty-eight poems by Orbán (b. 1936) are presented in translations by George Szirtes (38), László T. András and William Jay Smith (3), László Baránszky and Marc Nasdor (1), John Bátki (6), Alan Dixon (1), Gerard Gorman (1), Jascha Kessler (1), Jascha Kessler and Maria Körösy (4), Nicholas Columban (5), Edwin Morgan (6), Eric Mottram (1) and Timea K. Szell (1). Szirtes’s introduction provides biographical information and puts “Hungary’s own beat poet” into literary context.

25. ---. The Journey of Barbarus. Translated and introduced by Bruce Berlind. Pueblo, Co.: Passeggiata Press, 1997.

Forty-seven poems of Orbán are presented in English translation, divided into three parts: Travel Documents, The Journey, and a concluding section of seventeen poems which appear with parallel texts in Hungarian. The collection (referred to in the introduction as Orbán’s “American poems”) grew out of the poet’s extended stay in the U.S. in 1987 as a visiting professor in Minnesota. Barbarus, standing for the poet’s persona, reports on his travels crisscrossing the country; his reflections are colored by his experiences of growing up in Central Europe in the shadow of the Holocaust. Orbán writes mostly in free verse; Berlind in his introduction compares him to Lowell, whose poetry Orbán translated into Hungarian. With a bibliography.

*26. ---. Our Bearing at Sea: A Novel in Poems. Translated by Jascha Kessler with Maria Körösy. New York: Xlibris, 2001.

This work is “an autobiography, written in prose poems, divided into thematic groups. Altogether, and upon reflection, it seems a montage and mosaic of the life of the poet from childhood on, remembered from the Siege of Budapest by the Soviet armies towards the last year of World War II, up through the various regimes until 1988 or so.  It is both surreally grotesque and warm, sardonic on the madness of erotic life and politics during the horrible decades that this Central European country suffered.”[15] 

*27. Parti Nagy, Lajos. Europink. Versek. Gedichte. Poems. Poèmes. Pécs: Jelenkor; Budapest: Lettre, 1999.

A selection from the poetry of Parti Nagy (b. 1953), including the Hungarian text and translations in German, English and French. English translation by Kinga Dornacher and Stephen Humphreys.

28. Petöfi, Sándor. John the Valiant: A Bilingual Edition. 2nd ed. Translated into English by John Ridland. Budapest: Corvina, 2001.

A bilingual edition of the 1844 verse tale - sometimes called a ‘folk epic’ or ‘popular epic’ (Introduction) -  by the most popular 19th-century Hungarian poet. With a foreword by George Szirtes and an introduction by the translator. Illustrated by Peter Meller.

29. Petri, György. Night Song of the Personal Shadow: Selected Poems. Translated by Clive Wilmer and George Gömöri. Newcastle upon Tyne: Bloodaxe Books, 1991.

A collection of forty-four poems by Petri (1943-2000) spanning the years 1971 to 1989, presented here in collaborative translations by Wilmer and Gömöri, with an introduction by Wilmer. Petri grew up under Communist dictatorship, and became a political dissident in the early 1980s. Many of his poems reflect a preoccupation with political issues (the 1956 uprising, the 1968 protests, the execution of Prime Minister Imre Nagy after 1956). In the introduction Wilmer stresses the political context of Petri’s poetry, at the same time drawing attention to the poet’s irony and black humor, and his addiction to word play “which makes much of his best work untranslatable”. With explanatory notes.

30. ---. Eternal Monday: New and Selected Poems. Translated by Clive Wilmer and George Gömöri. Newcastle upon Tyne: Bloodaxe Books, 1999.

Contains fifty-six collaborative translations by Gömöri and Wilmer, twenty of which first appeared in Night Song of the Personal Shadow (see no. 29). With a foreword by Elaine Feinstein and introduction by Clive Wilmer. The book comprises three sections: poems from Petri’s first two books from 1971 and 1974, poems originally published in samizdat collections in 1982 and 1985, and poems written after 1989. Feinstein compares Petri to Zbigniew Herbert and Miroslav Holub, while Wilmer’s introduction emphasizes the political context of Petri’s art. Mention is made of George Szirtes’s criticism of Wilmer’s introduction to Night Song of the Personal Shadow for stressing the political aspect of Petri’s art at the expense of the personal. With notes.

31. Pilinszky, János. The Desert of Love: Selected Poems. Translated by János Csokits and Ted Hughes. London: Anvil Press Poetry, 1989.

Forty-seven poems by Pilinszky (1921-1981), gathered from his volumes Trapeze and Parallel Bars (1940-1946), On the Third Day (1946-1958), Big City Icons (1959-1970), Splinters (1971-192), Denouement (1973-1974) and Crater (1974-1985). Some of the same translations were originally published by Carcanet Press in 1976 under the title Selected poems. With an introduction by Ted Hughes and an essay-memoir by Ágnes Nemes Nagy. The formative experience for Pilinszky, who came from a Catholic background, was his conscription for military service in 1944; he spent the last year of the war moving from one prison camp to another in Austria and Germany.  For the rest of his career he struggled with the greatest challenge of his generation, “to write verse after Auschwitz” (Essay), reflected in many of his poems (Harbach 1944, On the Wall of a KZ-Lager, Passion of Ravensbrück, Apocrypha). “In each poem, we find the same diamond centre: a post-apocalyptic silence, where the nail remains in the hand, and the wound cannot speak” (Introduction). Ted Hughes worked from Hungarian poet János Csokits’s rough translation; the essay-memoir is by Pilinszky’s contemporary Ágnes Nemes Nagy, who together with Pilinszky was the leader of the first post-war generation of poets.

32. ---. János Pilinszky: 66 Poems: From the Hungarian by István Tótfalusi. Pilinszky János: 66 vers: angolra fordította Tótfalusi István. Budapest: Maecenas, 1991.

A bilingual volume, with parallel texts in English and Hungarian, and with an afterword by István Tótfalusi. In his biographical essay Tótfalusi refers to the apocalyptic subjects in Pilinszky’s poetry, and stresses the poet’s immense talent, pointing out how he became the leader of the post-war generation on the strength of a slim volume with merely 19 short poems, published in 1946. Referring to the Csokits-Hughes translations (see no. 31) Tótfalusi states that with four exceptions he selected poems not appearing in the previous collection, as it was not his intention to compete with an English poet of Hughes’ stature.

*33. ---. Metropolitan Icons: Selected Poems of János Pilinszky in Hungarian and in English. Edited and translated by Emery George. Studies in Slavic Language and Literature, vol. 8. Lewiston, N.Y.: E. Mellen Press, 1995.

A bilingual volume, containing a selection of seventy-eight poems. With notes and a bibliography.

34. Radnóti, Miklós. Foamy Sky: The Major Poems of Miklós Radnóti. The Lockert Library of Poetry in Translation. Translated by Zsuzsanna Ozsváth and Frederick Turner. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1992.

With seventy-seven poems in collaborative translations by Ozsváth and Turner, this is the definitive work of the 90s presenting the poetry of the tragically short-lived Miklós Radnóti (1909-1944). With a short introduction by Ozsváth, defining Radnóti's place in relation to the Holocaust, and a lengthier (13-page) essay by Turner, entitled The Journey of Orpheus: On Translation, describing the collaborative process by the two translators. Turner’s poem On the Pains of Translating Miklós Radnóti is also included.

*35. ---. 33 Poems. 33 Vers. Translated by Thomas Orszag-Land. Budapest: Maecenas, 1992.

A bilingual selection.

*36. ---. Last Poems of Miklós Radnóti: Written in a Nazi Labour Camp during the Last Months of the Second World War and Found on His Murdered Body. Translated by Peter Zollman. [S.l.]: P. Zollman, 1994.

Radnóti, who was of Jewish descent, was murdered on a forced march by Nazi guards; his last poems were found on his body in a notebook two years later when the mass grave where his body had been dumped was exhumed. This illustrated bilingual version is based on the Hungarian facsimile edition of the notebook, published by Magyar Helikon in 1972. The translation is in commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the poet's death.

37. ---. Camp Notebook. Bori Notesz. Translated by Francis R. Jones. Visible Poets Series. Todmorden, Lancs.: Arc Publications, 2000.

A bilingual volume with parallel texts, containing the ten poems found in a notebook in Radnóti’s coat pocket after his body was exhumed from a mass grave. With a note from the series’ editor, a preface and notes by the translator, an introduction by George Szirtes, and illustrations featuring the Hungarian facsimile edition of the notebook. Szirtes in his introduction draws attention to the predominance of the Virgilian Eclogue form, “a version of pastoral associated with the Augustinian return to Arcadia” in Radnóti’s late poetry, and discusses the role of pastoral scenes in the last poems. Jones outlines her attempts to reproduce the poetic structure and the rhyme/rhythm schemes of the original in her translations.

38. Rakovszky, Zsuzsa. New Life. Translated and introduced by George Szirges. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994.

Thirty-two poems from the oeuvre of the contemporary Hungarian poet, born in 1950, selected from three Hungarian collections published in 1981, 1987 and 1991. Rakovszky’s poems “tend to concentrate on what… appear to be intensely private experiences,” reflecting at the same time “a shifting urban landscape of noisy neighbours, malfunctioning television sets, shadows on landings, snatched meetings, and dying ideologies” (Introduction).

39. Szirtes, George. Bridge Passages. Oxford  Poets. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991.

Hungarian-born British poet George Szirtes (b. 1948) spent most of the year 1989 in Hungary while the country’s socialist political regime was collapsing. “Most of the poems in Bridge Passages … constitute a kind of reportage based on the events of that year, a reportage in which journalism is experienced through poetry.” The collection of forty-four poems (bearing the dedication  “For my friends in Hungary”) includes seven translations from the Hungarian of Ottó Orbán (originally published in The Blood of the Walsungs, see no. 24), and one poem, Diary, after Ágnes Nemes Nagy.

40. ---. Blind Field. Oxford  Poets. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994.

A collection of twenty-five poems by Szirtes, written predominantly in English between 1990 and 1994. This is “ostensibly a book about photographs and photography, but actually about images of frozen time,” recording the author’s visit to his mother’s birthplace in Transylvania (present-day Romania). The poem Dancing with Mountains commemorates Hungarian poet Ágnes Nemes Nagy, who passed away in 1991; four translations from Nemes Nagy are included (Four Short Poems from the Hungarian of Ágnes Nemes Nagy).

41. Vas, István. Through the Smoke: Selected Poems. Translated from the Hungarian by Bruce Berlind, Gerard Gorman, Daniel Hoffman, Jascha Kessler, Kenneth McRobbie, William Jay Smith, George Szirtes. Budapest: Corvina, 1989.

Sixty-four poems by István Vas (1910-1991), selected by Miklós Vajda, and introduced by George Szirtes. A volume of scholarly ambition, with Hungarian titles and notes on the translators. Vas, a contemporary of Gyula Illyés and a friend of Miklós Radnóti, started out under the influence of avant-garde poet Lajos Kassák, but soon reverted to traditional form and became known as a classically orientated poet. Szirtes’s introduction analyzes the role of urban scenes and images of nature in Vas’s poetry.


42. Blessed Harbours: An Anthology of Hungarian-Canadian Authors. Edited by John Miksa. Prose Series, no. 65. Toronto: Guernica, 2002.

Contains poems and short stories by thirty-five authors, twenty of whom are poets. With a preface by the editor, an essay entitled Their Language Is Their Destiny by George Bisztray, and biographical notes. Miksa in his introduction stresses the prevalence of surrealism, neo-dadaism and mystical populism among the younger generation of poets. The aim of the compilers is to show Canadian readers that writers of Hungarian descent have made valuable contributions to Canadian literature; the role of translation is somewhat underplayed. “Some of the poems and short stories included were originally written in English, but the majority were translated from the Hungarian” (Preface) - in some cases it is impossible to tell what the original language was.

43. The Colonnade of Teeth: Modern Hungarian Poetry. Edited by George Gömöri and George Szirtes. Newcastle upon Tyne: Bloodaxe Books, 1996.

Thirty-five 20th-century Hungarian poets are presented with three to ten poems each, arranged chronologically by the poets' date of birth, starting with Lörinc Szabó (1900-1957) and ending with Gyözö Ferencz (b. 1954). The English versions are the work of 29 translators. With a foreword by Edwin Morgan, an introduction by George Gömöri and George Szirtes, and biographical notes. Szirtes in his introduction outlines the history of 20th-century Hungarian poetry, while Morgan in his foreword welcomes the fact that due to the concerted and determined efforts of a generation of editors and poet-translators Hungarian poetry has been made available for English readers in some excellent translations.

44. Homeland in the Heights: An Anthology of Post-World War II Hungarian Poetry. Selected and edited by Csilla Bertha. Budapest: Eötvös József Könyvkiadó, 2000.

Features the work of sixteen poets with an average of 8-20 poems, starting with and centered around the tradition of Gyula Illyés, considered the champion of national values, especially in relation to Hungarian minorities living in the neighboring countries. The title is a quote from Illyés's poem of the same title with the message that even under oppression in a foreign country the idea of the homeland survives as long as the native language and culture are kept alive. Poets from Hungary include Sándor Weöres (1913-1989), János Pilinszky, Ágnes Nemes Nagy (1922-1991), László Nagy (1925-1978), Margit Szécsi (1928-1990), Ferenc Juhász (b. 1928), Sándor Csoóri, and József Utassy (b. 1941), in addition to Gyula Illyés, as well as seven ethnic Hungarian poets -  Sándor Kányádi , Gizella Hervay (1934-1982), Sándor Gál (b. 1937), Domokos Szilágyi (1938-1976), Árpád Farkas (b. 1944), Gáspár Nagy (b. 1949) and Géza Szöcs (b. 1953) - living in Romania and Southern Slovakia (the latter awkwardly referred to as “the Highlands”). With a preface by Csilla Bertha and an introduction by Csilla and Zoltán Bertha, offering historic background and biographical information.  The majority of the poems were translated for this anthology by Len Roberts, Ádám Makkai, Daniel Hoffman and Erzsébet Léb; other, previously published poems are the work of Bruce Berlind, Tony Connor, Alan Dixon, Gyözö Ferencz, Gerard Groman, Ted Hughes, George Gömöri, Hugh Maxton, Kenneth McRobbie, Edwin Morgan, William Jay Smith, István Tótfalusi, George Szirtes, Vernon Watkins, and David Wevill. While the selection and introduction show a strong nationalistic bent, this volume is the only source for a major selection by ethnic Hungarian poets in Romania and Slovakia.

45. In Quest of the ‘Miracle Stag’ : The Poetry of Hungary: An Anthology of Hungarian Poetry in English Translation from the 13th Century to the Present in Commemoration of the 1100th Anniversary of the Foundation of Hungary and the 40th Anniversary of the Hungarian Uprising of 1956. Edited by Adam Makkai. Chicago: Atlantis-Centaur; Budapest: M. Szivárvány and Corvina, 1996.

This approx. 900 pages long, encyclopedic anthology is the most comprehensive survey of Hungarian poetry published in the English language so far. It features 72 poets  as well as folk and anonymous poetry, rendered into English by 92 translators, and it uses a scholarly apparatus, including  biographical notes for each poet, an almost 100-page essay entitled A Nation and Its Poetry by the late László Cs. Szabó, an eminent Hungarian-British writer, scholar and essayist, A Short History of Hungarian Verse by the late László Gáldi, Notes on the Hungarian Language by Adam Makkai and Earl M. Herrick, and an index of translators. The thirty-two page long table of contents with its periodic and genre division could serve in itself as a tool for scholarly studies in the field. This title is virtually the only source for folk, anonymous and pre-19th century Hungarian poetry in English translation. In his introduction Adam Makkai credits the team of extremely dedicated scholars and writers – mainly Hungarian émigrés - whose efforts made the publication of the anthology possible. The project took over 30 years to complete; some of the original movers behind it (e.g. Paul Tabori) did not live to see the published book. Credit is given to the late Ladislas Gara, whose groundbreaking Anthologie de la poésie hongroise, published by Seuil in 1962, was the first major attempt to bring Hungarian poetry to foreign readers.

46. The Lost Rider: A Bilingual Anthology: The Corvina Book of Hungarian Verse. Selected and edited by Péter Dávidházi, Gyözö Ferencz, László Kúnos, Szabolcs Várady and George Szirtes. Budapest: Corvina, 1997.

A bilingual volume with parallel texts, offering a survey of Hungarian poetry through the ages, presenting 1-9 poems by thirty-seven poets from Bálint Balassi in the late 16th-century until the generation born in the early 1920s in chronological arrangement. Living poets are not included. Twenty-three translators are represented. The volume features  an attractive selection of late-19th and early-20th century poetry  (János Arany, János Vajda, Endre Ady, Gyula Reviczky, Ernö Szép), not easily found elsewhere, while twentieth-century poets are somewhat under-represented. A handy paperback volume without explanatory notes or scholarly apparatus, this anthology is meant to be savored and enjoyed.

47. The Maecenas Anthology of Living Hungarian Poetry. Selected and translated by István Tótfalusi. Budapest: Maecenas, 1997.  

An anthology featuring over eighty living poets writing in the Hungarian language, including poets of Hungarian ethnicity from the neighboring countries (mostly Romania and Yugoslavia). Both pre- and post-WW II generations are represented, although with an emphasis on older, more established poets. Three to five poems by each poet are presented, all rendered into English by a single translator. With short biographies, and some explanatory notes. This volume is not served too well by its very awkward layout and generally shoddy production.

*48. Maradok: Magyar költök hangja Erdélyböl. I Remain: Voices of the Hungarian Poets from Transylvania. Translated by Paul Sohar. Csíkszereda: Pro-Print Könyvkiadó, 1997.

In Hungarian and English.

*49. Poetry Translations Mainly from Hungarian. Edited and translated by Peter Zollman. London: Babel, 1997.

A bilingual anthology representing Zollman’s personal selection from the 1800s to the present, featuring some major Hungarian poets along with a short selection of translations from French, German, Latin, Portuguese and Italian.

*50. The Science of In-Between: An Anthology of Nineteen Contemporary Hungarian Poets. Edited and translated by Nicholas Kolumban. Budapest: Széphalom Könyvmühely; New York: Box Turtle Press, 1999.

“The anthology of nineteen contemporary Hungarian poets - from György Faludy through Sándor Csoóri, Sándor Kányádi, György Gömöri, Elemér Horváth, György Petri to Zsuzsa Takács, Zsuzsa Kapecz, Tibor Zalán - is a representative selection translated by Nicholas Kolumban. All poems of this book were published in literary periodicals in the US. The notes (written by the translator) present shortly the Hungarian authors of the anthology, the Introduction is the work of a young expert of the Princeton University, Anna Dropick.”[16]

*51. Some Hungarian Poets. Translated by John Robert Colombo and George Jonas. A QuasiBook ed. Toronto: Colombo & Col, 1995.

Features five Hungarian poets: Endre Ady (1877-1919), Dezsö Kosztolányi, Attila József,  Miklós Radnóti, Gyula Illyés and Lörinc Szabó. With prefaces by John Robert Colombo and George Jonas.

52. Treasury of Hungarian Love Poems, Quoations and Provers. Edited and partially translated by Katherine Gyékényesi Gatto. New York: Hippocrene Books, 1996.

A bilingual anthology with parallel texts, containing forty-six poems by twenty-eight authors, followed by a section of anonymous quotations, proverbs and sayings. The selection reflects a strong taste for sentimentality. Over half of the poems are from the 16th to 19th centuries. The “partially translated” phrase on the title page is difficult to interpret, since no other translator is credited. 

53. Zollman, Péter. Kész a leltár: Egy évszázad félszáz magyar verse angolul. The Audit is Done: A Taste of 20th Century Hungarian Poetry. Európai Kulturális Füzetek. European Cultural Review. Budapest: Új Világ Kiadó, 2003.

Zollman’s most recent collection of 50 translations presents a cross-section of 20th century Hungarian poetry encompassing in time an entire century (from Ady, born in 1877 to Dániel Varró, born exactly 100 years later), stretching in scope from the best regarded and most frequently translated poets (Ady, Babits, József, Radnóti) to such lesser-known ones as Varró or István Baka, and covering poetry written both inside and outside of Hungary. In his introductory essay Stephen Watts praises Zollman’s  “very successful attempts to bring across rhymed Hungarian poems into rhymed English versions”: “He has a very strong feel for the qualities that rhyme brings to Hungarian poetry… Therefore he adheres closely, though also very imaginatively, to the needs, openings and dictates of rhyme and to accompanying rhythm without sacrificing syntax or faithfulness to the original text. …it is a quality that, precisely because it so often does work here, we can feel grateful for” (A Taste of 20th Century Hungarian Poetry). With parallel texts in Hungarian and English, biographical notes in English quoted from In Quest of the ‘Miracle Stag’ (see no. 45), some illustrations and a Hungarian-language note by series editor Gábor Mihályi. 


54. Contemporary East European Poetry: An Anthology.  Edited by Emery George. 2nd, rev. ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993.

The revised edition of this major (490 p.) English-language anthology, originally published in 1983, contains significant new material: the editor claims in the introduction that he intended to shift the focus towards the generation of poets born after 1945, and to feature more women poets. Four Hungarian poets are represented with one to two poems and a short biographical note: Dezsö Tandori (b. 1938), György Petri, Zsuzsa Rakovszky and Flóra Imre (b. 1961). The translators are Bruce Berlind, Robert Austerlitz, Barbara Howes with Margot Archer, and Emery George. With an introduction by the editor.

55. The Faber Book of Modern European Poetry. Edited by A. Alvarez. London: Faber and Faber, 1992.

Contains a section entitled ‘Hungary’, featuring Sándor Weöres (The Colonnade of Teeth, Orpheus Killed, Terra Sigillata, In Memoriam Gyula Juhász, The Secret Country, Monkeyland), János Pilinszky (Harbach 1944, The French Prisoner, On the Wall of a KZ-Lager, Passion at Ravensbrück, Impromptu, Straight Labyrinth, Jewel), Ferenc Juhász (Gold, Birth of the Foal, Then There Are Fish, Comet-Watchers, Mary), and György Petri (‘I Am Stuck, Lord, On Your Hook,’  Apocryphal, On the 24th Anniversary of the Little October Revolution, Night Song of the Personal Shadow, Cold Peace, Morning Coffee). By various translators. Alvarez’s introduction offers a summary of literature in Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary, stating that “even before the [Iron] curtain rusted away, the literature of Eastern Europe had acquired a certain spurious chic and was being praised for the wrong reasons,” and declares the poetry in this countries meant “the survival of ordinary human values - sanity, decency, self-respect - in an ocean of corruption and hypocrisy” (Introduction).

56. Holocaust Poetry. Compiled and introduced by Hilda Schiff. London: Fount Paperbacks, 1995.

Arranged thematically (Alienation; Persecution; Destruction, Rescuers, Bystanders, Perpetrators; Afterwards). Contains Miklós Radnóti's Clouded Sky in the Persecution section, and his Forced March and Postcards in the Destruction section (translated by Steven Polgar, S. Berg and S.J. Marks collaboratively), as well as János Pilinszky's Harbach 1944, Passion of Ravensbrück, On the Wall of a KZ-Lager and Fable, also under Destruction, presented in the János Csokits-Ted Hughes versions, although only Hughes is credited. The fact that Radnóti, a victim of the Holocaust is represented with fewer poems than the Catholic Pilinszky might be a consequence of the popularity of Ted Hughes’ Pilinszky translations.

57. Literary Olympians 1992: An International Anthology. Edited by Elizabeth Bartlett. Boston: Ford-Brown and Co., Publishers, 1992.

A bilingual anthology, including two poems by Ottó Orbán (Poetry and Bird, translated by Jascha Kessler with Maria Körösy), and As If by Zsuzsa Rakovszky, translated by George Szirtes. With short biographical notes.

58. Modern Poems on the Bible: An Anthology. Edited and with an introduction by David Curzon. Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society, 1994.

Includes one poem by Éva Tóth (b. 1939), entitled Genesis, and translated from the Hungarian by Peter Jay.

59. Poems to Read: A New Favorite Poem Project Anthology. Edited by Robert Pinsky and Maggie Dietz. New York: W.W. Norton and Co., 2002.

Includes Attila József's poem The Seventh, translated by John Bátki (whose name is misspelled here as “Balki”).

60. The Poetry of Survival: Post-War Poets of Central and Eastern Europe. Edited and introduced by Daniel Weissbort. London: Anvil Press Poetry, 1991.

Includes fourteen poems by Ágnes Nemes Nagy, translated by Bruce Berlind, Hugh Maxton and Frederic Will, as well as fifteen poems by János Pilinszky translated by János Csokits and Ted Hughes, and by Peter Jay. With a two-page long biographical note on both poets. Also contains the transcript of a radio interview with poet and editor Éva Tóth on Pilinszky.

61. Scanning the Century: The Penguin Book of the Twentieth Century in Poetry. Edited by Peter Forbes. London: Viking, 1999.

Includes The French Prisoner by János Pilinszky (translated by János Csokits and Ted Hughes) and Pornographic Magazine by Zsuzsa Rakovszky (translated by George Gömöri and Clive Wilmer).

62. Shifting Borders: East European Poetries of the Eighties. Compiled and edited by Walter Cummins. Rutherford: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press; London: Associated University Presses, 1993.

The Hungarian section (p. 215-258) of this 481-page English-language anthology was compiled by Bruce Berlind: his 3-page introductory essay presents Hungarian poetry ‘at the crossroads’ in the political sense of the word. Short biographical notes follow on the ten poets selected (Sándor Csoóri, Gyula Illyés, László Nagy, Ágnes Nemes Nagy, Imre Oravecz, Ottó Orbán, János Pilinszky, Dezsö Tandori, István Vas and Sándor Weöres). With a few exceptions the 32 poems presented in the volume are translations of Bruce Berlind (some in collaboration with Maria Körösy). In keeping with the political character of the introduction the first poem is Gyula Illyés’s famous “One Sentence on Tyranny,” in Berlind’s translation.

63. Snodgrass, W. D. Selected Translations. Rochester, NY: BOA Editions, Ltd., 1998.

Includes translations of five Hungarian folk songs (The Bad Wife; Time To Settle Down Now; Carriage, Wagon, Carriage Sled; If I Climbed That Mountain; Near the Csitar Mountain Foothills).

64. The Spaces of Hope: Poetry for Our Times and Places. Edited by Peter Jay. London: Anvil Press Poetry, 1998.

Includes Desert of Love, November Elysium, On the Back of a Photograph and On the Wall of a KZ-Lager by János Pilinszky in the translation of János Csokits and Ted Hughes, and Coolie by Sándor Weöres, translated by Edwin Morgan.

*65. The PIP anthology of World Poetry of the 20th Century. Edited by Douglas Messerli. Los Angeles: Green Integer, 2000.

Includes a section on  poet, short-story writer and humorist Frigyes Karinthy (1887-1938).

*66. Transylvanian Voices: an Anthology of Contemporary Poets from Cluj-Napoca. Edited and Translated by Adam J. Sorkin and Liviu Bleoca. Iasi: Romanian Cultural Foundation, 1994.


66. Basa, Enikö M., ed. Hungarian Literature. Review of National Literatures, vol. 17. New York: Published for the Council of National Literatures by Griffon House Publications, 1993.

67. Fahlström, Susanna. “Form and Philosophy in Sándor Weöres’ Poetry.” Ph.D. diss., Uppsala University, 1999. Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis. Studia Uralica Upseliensia 32 (1999).

 68. Gömöri, George and Clive Wilmer, eds. The Life and Poetry of Miklós Radnóti: Essays. East European Monographs, no. 528. Boulder, CO.: East European Monographs, 1999.

69. Kabdebo, Thomas. Attila József: 'Can You Take On This Awesome Life?'. Budapest: Argumentum Kiadó; Maynooth: Cardinal Press, 1997.

70. Keenoy, Ray, Menkes-Ivry, Vivienne and Zsuzsanna Varga. The Babel Guide to Hungarian Literature in English Translation. Babel Guides. Oxford: Boulevard Books, 2001.

71. Ozsváth, Zsuzsanna. In the Footsteps of Orpheus: The Life and Times of Miklós Radnóti. Jewish Literature and Culture. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2000.


[1] Hungarian is currently the native language of approx. 14 million people in the world; of this number, ca. 10 million people live within the boundaries of present-day Hungary, the rest are minorities in neighboring countries (Romania, Slovakia, Yugoslavia) and on the American continent (U.S., Canada and some Latin-American countries).

[2] The extreme importance of translation as a means of access to work written in a little-known language is very well demonstrated by the 2002 Nobel Prize in Literature awarded to Hungarian novelist Imre Kertész. Kertész, who has lately divided his time between Hungary and Germany, had all his novels published in German, and has become an esteemed writer in the latter country. On the strength of his reputation in Germany, some of his works were also translated into Swedish. His oeuvre is virtually unknown in English-speaking countries.

[3] See no. 8. William Jay Smith quoting Miklós Vajda, Modern Hungarian Poetry (New York: Columbia University Press, 1977).

[4] It was interesting to note how the translators and editors of the English volumes grappled with this particularly Central-Eastern European phenomenon, see the diametrically opposed approaches to Attila József's poetry by Peter Hargitai (no. 15) and Zsuzsanna Ozsváth (no. 14).

[5] See no. 29, Introduction, 9.


[7] Modern Poetry in Translation. London: Modern Poetry in Translation, 1965-.

[8] Dezsö Keresztury. Quoted in no. 64, 11.

[9] Szirtes, George. The Budapest File. Budapest: Corvina; Newcastle upon Tyne: Bloodaxe Books, 2000, 16.

[10] As a further spin on the matter, Szirtes’s English poems were published in Hungarian in Gyözö Ferencz’s translation (George Szirtes versei. Új Pegazus. Budapest: Európa, 1987.)

[11] See no. 12, 9.

[12] See no. 21, 72-79.

[13] See no. 16, 7-8.

[14] See no 45, xxi.


  © All rights belong to the authors or their heirs. 2004.