Posted by: koolwine | December 2, 2010

Hungary: Embers

“From the first moment, they lived together like twins in their mother’s womb.  For this they had no need of one of those pacts of the kind that is common among boys of their age, who swear friendship with comical solemn rituals and the sort of portentous intensity invoked by people when for the first time they experience, in unconscious and distorted form, the need to remove another human being from the world, body and soul, and make him uniquely theirs.  For that is the hidden force within both friendship and love.  Their friendship was deep and wordless, as are all the emotions that will last a lifetime.  And like all great emotions, this one contained within itself both shame and a sense of guilt, for no one may isolate one of his fellows from the rest of humanity with impunity.”

By Sándor Márai; translated by Carol Brown Janeway
Originally published in Hungary as A gyertyák csonkig égnek in 1942
My edition: Vintage International, 2002.  213 pgs.
Acclaim: International Bestseller; A New York Times Notable Book; Márai was “one of the leading literary novelists in Hungary in the 1930s”

Country Focus: Hungary (Magyarország in Hungarian)

To make a long story short: Henrik, a widowed Hungarian general, receives word that his best friend Konrad has returned to the country after a 41-year absence.  Henrik confronts Konrad about his abrupt and secret departure so many years before, the hunting trip that instigated his flight, and the nature of friendship and love.


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