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A tender comedy tinged with the absurdity of life, the thrill of sociability, and the imminence of death, which I guess is exactly the kind of book I like.

—Chad Harbach

Dezső Kosztolányi

Dezső Kosztolányi was a Hungarian prose writer and poet.

Dezső Kosztolányi was born in 1885 and gained notoriety as a journalist in Budapest during the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. An integral member of the intellectual and literary circles of the period, he published his first collection of poems, Within Four Walls, to great acclaim in 1907. His writings have influenced generations of Hungarian writers ever since. He died of throat cancer in 1936.

Kornél Esti

Fiction by Dezső Kosztolányi

translated by Bernard Adams

Crazy, funny and gorgeously dark, Kornél Esti sets into rollicking action a series of adventures about a man and his wicked doppelgänger, who breathes every forbidden idea of his childhood into his ear, and then reappears decades later. Part Gogol, part Chekhov, and all brilliance, Kosztolányi’s final book serves up his most magical, radical, and intoxicating work. Here is a novel which inquires: What if your id (loyally keeping your name) decides to strike out on its own, cuts a disreputable swatch through the world, and then sends home to you all its unpaid bills and ruined maidens? And then: What if you and your alter ego decide to write a book together?

Anna Edes

Fiction by Dezső Kosztolányi

translated by George Szirtes

Anna Édes is a dark and deeply moving naturalistic novel, a classic work of twentieth-century Hungarian literature. A skillful portrayal of the cruelty and emptiness of bourgeois life, it was first published in 1926 and enthusiastically received by the intellectual coffee-house society through which it circulated. The novel was later acknowledged by authors such as Thomas Mann as a model of language and form, and in turn established Dezso Kosztolanyi as one of the most significant writers of Eastern European fiction. Anna is the hard-working and long-suffering heroine, the unhappy maid destroyed by her pitiless employers. Her tragic relationship with them is played out against the political turbulence in Budapest following the First World War. Yet her endurance and revenge are depicted with keen psychological as well as historical insight, becoming, in the words of the translator, "not merely an argument about social conditions but raised to genuine tragedy."

Available: November 01 1993