cover image Sunflower


Gyula Krudy. New York Review of Books, $14 (232pp) ISBN 978-1-59017-186-8

A reverie on love and death, countryside and city, this gothic fairy tale from Hungarian Krudy (1878-1933) was originally published in Hungary in early 1918. Spooked by a midnight intruder, 22-year-old Eveline leaves her home in Budapest and returns to her Hun-garian riverfront estate. There, Eveline is haunted by the memory of her ex-fiance, the dissolute Kalman Ossuary, and is courted by a patient local bachelor, Andor almos-Dreamer. The meandering plot takes a turn upon the arrival of Eveline's best friend and opposite, Malvina Maszkeradi. Malvina is ""the wealthiest heiress in Budapest: somber, frosty, intrepid, and miserable,"" and she proceeds to stir things up considerably. The book's only acknowledgement of WWI is, perhaps, through its celebration of what is being lost: ""old Hungary, silent with the sleep of the blessed, the humble, the poor."" Given to expansive lyric digressions, Krudy is now recognized as a great prose stylist, but an English equivalent proves elusive here. The story, however, rewards patience: the last chapter, where the year has circled back to autumn and an opportunity opens for Eveline, is surprising and moving.