by Gyula Krúdy, introduction by John Lukacs, translated from the Hungarian by John Bátki
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.
Krudy, a well-known early 20th-century Hungarian author, produced a prolific body of 60 novels and 3000 short stories before dying in relative obscurity. In this novel, appearing in English for the first time...Krudy eulogizes a way of life already disappearing as the work was being written and presents a glimpse of rural Hungary that is at once comic, nostalgic, romantic, and erotic. The introduction by John Lukacs provides insight into Krudy's life and works.
— Library Journal
Gyula Krudy...a Hungarian Proust.
— Charles Champlin, The New York Times
[Krudy's] literary power and greatness are almost past comprehension...Few in world literature could so vivify the mythical in reality...With a few pencil strokes he draws apocalyptic scenes about sex, flesh, human cruelty and hopelessness.
— Sandor Marai
Krudy writes of imaginary people, of imaginary events, in dream-like settings; but the spiritual essence of his persons and of their places is stunningly real, it reverberates in our minds and strikes at our hearts.
— John Lukacs, The New Yorker
Gyula Krudy's luminous and willful pastoral, peopled with archaic, semi-mythical figures—damned poets and doomed aristocrats, dreamily erotic hetaerae and rude country squires—is pure fin-de-siecle, art nouveau in prose for which I can't think of a real Anglo-Saxon or even Celtic-English literary equivalent...approach him and his Sunflower as a happy stumbling on an extraordinary attic of the rambling house of the European imagination, strangely lit, and crammed with richly faded dreams.
— W.L. Webb, The Hungarian Quarterly