Gyula Krúdy is a marvelous writer who haunted the taverns of Budapest and lived on its streets while turning out a series of mesmerizing, revelatory novels that are among the masterpieces of modern literature. Krúdy conjures up a world that is entirely his own—dreamy, macabre, comic, and erotic—where urbane sophistication can erupt without warning into passion and madness.
In Sunflower young Eveline leaves the city and returns to her country estate to escape the memory of her desperate love for the unscrupulous charmer Kálmán. There she encounters the melancholy Álmos-Dreamer, who is languishing for love of her, and is visited by the bizarre and beautiful Miss Maszkerádi, a woman who is a force of nature. The plot twists and turns; elemental myth mingles with sheer farce: Krúdy brilliantly illuminates the shifting contours and acid colors of the landscape of desire.
John Bátki’s outstanding translation of Sunflower is the perfect introduction to the world of Gyula Krúdy, a genius as singular as Robert Walser, Bruno Schulz, or Joseph Roth.
And, wrapped in black veils, night crept away, like a woman's once undying love
By Nicole - October 14, 2008
Sunflower is like a fairy tale, only more like a dream. Eveline, a "country miss" living in Budapest, has her house broken into by her former fiancé, a wastrel who's been using her for money. Next morning she packs up the household and returns to her country estate, the Hideaway. Her dearest friend in rural Hungary is a solitary and melancholy man, Andor Álmos-Dreamer, with a fantastical family history and a devotion to Eveline that will lead him to end his life--then begin it again at her request.
Eveline is also joined by her best female friend, Malvina Maszkerádi, a wealthy cosmopolitan heiress who is a bit caustic for the countryside. Kálmán, Eveline's beau, also follows her to Hideaway. Rural life is full of beautiful dreams, epic loves, and constant torment. Everything is poetic and doomed, and described so vividly and mythically as to bring the reader himself into the same dream Miss Eveline is experiencing.
A Romantic Farce in the Countryside (and a Verbal Tour de Force)
By Robert T. OKEEFFE - October 31, 2010
"Sunflower" was translated into English by John Bátki in 1997 as part of a continuing series put out by the New York Review of Books that publishes "revived classics". It has an informative critical Introduction by John Lukacs, the Hungarian-American historian of broad experience and interests, a range that encompasses an obvious love of the literature of his native land. You can also read Lukacs's positive evaluations of Krúdy in his retrospective group portrait of a talented generation, Budapest 1900, and in his Introduction to a collection of Krúdy's newspaper pieces, "Krúdy's Chronicles", both worth reading if you have any interest in Hungarian life and letters. Krúdy lived and wrote (and made his living solely through writing) during the last three decades of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the first fifteen years of the Horthy Regency. In spite of its post-1867 political autonomy Hungary was a troubled half of that empire, ill at ease with... read more
A Romance from a Vanished Time and Place
By Bryan Byrd "reviewer of bad films and good books" - February 6, 2010
'Sunflower' is nominally the story of Eveline, a young Hungarian woman from the upper classes, who leaves her home in Budapest and retires to her country manor after the disappointing end to her courtship with a roguish fellow named Kálmán. A friend, Miss Maszkerádi, joins her in her seclusion, and during their rural holiday, various eligible and not so eligible men pursue the two women, including the eccentric Mr. Álmos-Dreamer, the animated country squire Mr. Pistoli, and Kálmán himself, at last recognizing his mistake of letting Eveline go.
I say 'nominally the story of' because there is little else that happens, and thus the real focus of Krúdy's work is the Hungarian countryside and the manners of its people. Published in 1918, the setting of 'Sunflower', although no dates are given in the text, seems to date back to before the turn of the century, to an idyllic, carefree Hungary - or so it must have appeared to the... read more
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