Péter Nádas

December 07, 2007
by findingDulcinea Staff
Lauded by Susan Sontag as a Thomas Mann for our time, Péter Nádas is considered the foremost contemporary Hungarian author. Orphaned at a young age, openly bisexual, and a witness to the Communist party’s devastating stranglehold on his country, Nádas is emerging as a popular and unique symbol of his country’s history and its people.

Body of Work

Fellow Hungarian Gábor Csordás reviewed Nádas’s creative work, Parallel Stories in 2006. Csordás discusses the “corporeal” presence in Nádas’s writing and the role of the human body in his earlier work and in the work of his contemporaries.
Nádas’s article for Eurozine on Hungary’s 1956 Republican revolution was published in 2006 on the 50th anniversary of the event, and in it Nádas uses his personal familiarity with the event to paint a grim, realistic picture from the perspective of a native.
Susan Sontag, one of his biggest fans, also notes the importance of sexuality in Nádas’s work. Sontag reviewed his plays in an essay called  “Nádas’s Comedy of Interment,” written for the journal Common Knowledge. Download a PDF with this link from Johns Hopkins University.
Common Knowledge also published Nádas’s play Burial in its entirety.

Probing the History Continuum

A Nádas was born at a time of upheaval and crisis in Hungary. He was a witness to the burning of his own house at the age of two and was orphaned in the late ‘50s by a mother who died of cancer. His father who, after working as a state prosecutor for the Communist party, committed suicide shortly after the failed Hungarian uprising of 1956. Our inspiration to write about Nádas came from the Times’s November profile of the writer, which examines his writing style and his thematic choices in terms of contemporary artists like Pina Bausch and significant predecessors such as Thomas Mann. 

Question & Answer

Bomb Magazine, known for its provocative, writer-to-writer interviews, published a recent interview between Peter Nádas and Davis Kovacs. In the article, Kovacs mentions that Nádas is often compared, perhaps syntactically, to the high realists Robert Musil and Marcel Proust. This interview precedes Nádas’s first visit to New York in more than ten years.
The Literature Map introduces us to other writers that readers of Nádas have enjoyed, including Rainer Maria Rilke, Jean Paul Sartre, and contemporaries like V.S. Naipaul.

On Life and Not

Nádas is both a nonfiction and a fiction writer. Some highly praised titles include The End of a Family Story, a novel loosely inspired by events in his own life, and his recent collection of fiction and essays, Fire and Knowledge, published earlier this year.

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