Skylark, Dezso Kosztolanyi: Book Review


I read a review after reading this book about how the author was writing about this town Sárszeg, a fictionalised form of Subotica, the author’s hometown, but of the past. And the time Skylark was first published, it, as well as two-thirds of Hungary had become part of Serbia, Yugoslavia after war.

You certainly get this sense throughout the novel that the relationship between mother, father and daughter – is unsustainable. It’s an interesting look at how life and its routines are precarious and fragile. As well as the balance we strive to achieve between routine and spontaneity. A very thought provoking read and some particularly beautiful passages:

“When people go away they vanish, turn to nothing, stop being. They live only in memories, haunting the imagination. We know they go on being somewhere else, but no longer see them, just as we no longer see those who have passed away.”

I particularly liked the description of bohemians and the reference to the way the writer “worked”.

“…they were strange fellows, these bohemians. They lounged around doing nothing and told you they were working; they were frightfully miserable and yet would tell you they were perfectly happy. They had more troubles than others but seemed to bear them better, od if they fed on suffering…”

The writer Miklos’ work:

“…he could see quite clearly before him the wretched rooms, where suffering collected like unswept dust in the corners, the dust of lives in painful heaps, piled up over many long years. He shut his eyes and drank in the garden’s bitter fragrance. At such time Miklos Ijas was ‘working’.”

My husband once worked in a Physics lab where the scientists had a time they designated as “thinking time” and did just that. I’ve been enjoying writers like Kosztolanyi and Magda Szabo lately and the little jokes they make about this style of working.

Leave you with one of these such lovely descriptions about the creative process:

“He stood for some minutes before the gate with all the patience of a lover waiting for the appearance of his beloved. But he was waiting for no one. He was no lover in a worldly sense; the only love he knew was that of diving understanding, of taking a whole life into his arms, stripping it of flesh and bone, and feeling into its depths as if they were his own. From this, the greatest pain; the greatest happiness is born: the hope that we too will one day be understood, strangers will accept our words, our lives, as if they were their own.”

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: