Additional Book Information
Series: NYRB Classics
Publication Date: February 11, 2010
by János Székely, translated from the Hungarian by Mark Baczoni
An NYRB Classics Original
Temptation is a rediscovered masterwork of twentieth-century fiction, a Dickensian tale of a young man coming of age in Budapest between the wars. Illegitimate and unwanted, Bela is packed off to the country to be looked after by a peasant woman the moment he is born. She starves and bullies him, and keeps him out of school. He does his best to hold his own, and eventually his mother brings him back to live with her in the city. In thrall to his feckless father, Mishka, living in a crowded tenement, she works her fingers to the bone, while Bela shares a room with a hardworking prostitute. Finally, Bela secures a job in a fancy hotel. Though exhausted by endless work, he is fascinated by the uppercrust world that his new job exposes him to; soon he is embroiled with a rich, damaged, and dangerous woman. The atmosphere of Budapest is increasingly poisoned by the appeal of fascism, while Bela grows ever more aware of how power and money keep down the working classes. In the end, with every odd still against him, he musters the resolve to set sail for new future.