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Sunflower

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Gyula Krúdy, Sunflower [Budapest; 1918]

A fascinating but unevenly rambling fillip of story from Hungarian journalist, feuilletonist, and prosodist Gyula Krúdy, beloved of Hungarian letters but not readily amenable to translation. It took me a long time to get into the flow of his similes-on-similes-on-similes style, which is no doubt at least partly the fault of the translator trying to maintain sentence integrity at the expense of English convention; but while it's not exactly Major Literature in either the Naturalist or the Modernist canon (Krúdy is best known for his character Sindbad, a Hapsburg Arsène Lupin), it's a nostalgic reverie on such specific Hungarian countryside that by the end it was almost impossible not to get wrapped up in his densely referential maundering. The plot is a collection of fits and starts (I believe it was written and published serially, and only the ending really follows from what went before), more a cynical gesture toward romance (in the old-fashioned "adventure" sense) than the thing itself, but several images will stay with me for a long time.

August 7, 2017