Péter EsterházySee all fellows >
Hungary | 2004
Peter Esterhazy was born in Budapest in 1950. He is considered to be the most significant Hungarian writer today. He is the author of numerous essays, dramas, short stories, and novels, among whichHarmonia Celestis and Francsikò and Pinta. In 1996, he won the Kossuth Prize and in 1999, was awarded the Österreichische Staatspreis für Europäische Literatur.
I went to do some work, and I worked. I could end my report right here; I’ve said what really counts, and I also said through this gray sentence that I’ve spent an unforgettably month and a half in Santa Maddalena. Such months are rare and miraculous. Or I could continue in another vein: I worked and ate pekorino every day (with a bit of oil under it and a dash of pepper over it); I worked and I met Michael Cunningham (“two farmers in the tower”- English in the original); we conducted professional and friendly exchanges in my non-existent English; and still along the same English line, night after night I participated in the lovely, light conversations, and now I will never know what I must have said there, what’s more, what the others must have said to me (words have no meanings, only uses, the great Wittgenstein was wont to say, though he may not have been thinking about this particular situation); I worked and I saw Zadie Smith, singing as she flew over the pool; and I saw the two of them, Zadie and Michael, shopping in the nearby giant-size boutique, and the sensuous ecstasy and merriment I saw on their faces swept me along, too, and for the first time in my life I purchased something out of my own free will, and not the way I usually do: in a foul mood and in haste; that’s your color, Zadie said, and I immediately fell in love – with a jacket; I worked, and from five to six in the afternoon I took a vacation (I swam and I sunbathed and worked my muscles, as prescribed by my doctor); but I shall stop here, because otherwise I won’t be able to stop at all; I’d go on listing the people, the animals, what’s more, untypically, I’d end up getting involved with nature (by nature I mean what I saw from the window of my room in the tower); I might even start in on the life of Gregor von Rezzori, because from here on in when I think about his books I will also be thinking about his life, because I think I have come to understand something about it, namely, what his life has to say about life in general; and what it has to say is so beautiful, I won’t write it down; and the same goes for the word “beatrice”, I won’t go into it at length, because my report must be finite and learn to stop at some point.
Budapest, March, 2005