The Adventures of Sindbad
by Gyula Krudy, translated from the Hungarian and with an introduction by George Szirtes
“What you have loved remains yours.” Thus speaks the irresistible rogue Sindbad, ironic hero of these fantastic tales, who has seduced and abandoned countless women over the course of centuries but never lost one, for he returns to visit them all—ladies, actresses, housemaids—in his memories and dreams. From the bustling streets of Budapest to small provincial towns where nothing ever seems to change, this ghostly Lothario encounters his old flames wherever he goes: along the banks of the Danube; under windows where they once courted; in churches and in graveyards, where Eros and Thanatos tryst. Lies, bad behavior, and fickleness of all kinds are forgiven, and love is reaffirmed as the only thing worth persevering for, weeping for, and living for.
The Adventures of Sindbad is the Hungarian master Gyula Krúdy’s most famous book, an uncanny evocation of the autumn of the Hapsburg Empire that is enormously popular not only in Hungary but throughout Eastern Europe.
[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.
There is about Krudy an absolutely railed-down otherworldliness. A brilliant spectrum where reality is just one possible colour... This book is just a gift. I am grateful to George Szirtes for making it possible for me to read it and praise it.
—Michael Hofmann, The Times Literary Supplement
The Adventures follows a dream-weaving seducer, and Krudy's prose is appropriately seductive, a litany of long, languid, sighing sentences that introduce an element of enchantment to Sindbad's universe of provincial inns and restaurants in Pest where one might rendezvous with an actress or a goldsmith's wife....Sindbad's Adventures, then, are some of the loveliest violet-tinted lies ever put to paper—wreathed around some very nettling truths about what we call love.
— L Magazine