100 Years Since the Birth of Miklós Radnóti, the great Hungarian Poet
May 5, 2009 1:03 AM   Subscribe

Today, May 5th, we celebrate the 100th birthday of Miklós Radnóti , the great Hungarian poet and a great poet of the Holocaust. His last poem, in which he predicts his imminent death, Razglednicák ('Picture Postcards' in Serbo-Croat), written while on a death-march, is one of the true Holocaust poems. Remarkably it was discovered sewn into his clothing and discovered on him nearly two years after his murder in 1944. He is a major focus of any study on Holocaust literature. Yet He wrote some of the most sensous poems in any language, my favourite being Bájoló (The Charm), beatifully sung (in Hungarian) by the another icon of Hungarian culture, Koncz Zsuzsa (YouTube link). There is the inevitable Wikipedia article on him, not to mention at least two Facebook groups. He has been the subject of several excellent films. Hungarian readers have the ever reliable Hungarian Electronic Library to access his poetry, English readers should head for their favourite bookshop, electronic or otherwise, and purchase Foamy Sky, a bi-lingual edition of his major poems. We can also turn to Lóránt Czigány's epic A History Of Hungarian Literature for deeper understanding of Radnóti's genius.

And even if you can't understand a word of Hungarian listen to the great, yet tragic, Latinovits, read Radnóti's homage to his homeland, (written even after it betrayed him), Nem tudhatom/I Know Not What (YouTube link) and understand the power of the poem to transcend the everyday.
posted by vac2003 (6 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
Fantastic. Thanks so very much!
posted by Lucy2Times at 5:07 AM on May 5, 2009

great post, thanks
posted by johnny novak at 6:36 AM on May 5, 2009

Thank you for this great post--it's my birthday today, too, and this is a good present!
posted by hecho de la basura at 6:47 AM on May 5, 2009

I would favourite this a dozen times if I could. Thank you.
posted by jokeefe at 7:54 AM on May 5, 2009

Kösz, Vacikám. Perhaps the most difficult poet to translate that our little language has ever produced. Nem semmi...
posted by zaelic at 9:43 AM on May 5, 2009

Having grown up listening to the very strange and unique Hungarian language, which served as my only bond to the lost homeland of my refugee father, it is finds like this that sing straight to my heart. vac2003, you have given me such a gift. I cannot thank you enough.
posted by sarcasman at 11:46 AM on May 5, 2009

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