In a Bucolic Land Paperback by Szilárd Borbély, translated from the Hungarian by Ottilie Mulzet

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In a Bucolic Land Paperback by Szilárd Borbély, translated from the Hungarian by Ottilie Mulzet

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Product Details

  • Publisher: NYRB Poets (2022-01-11)
  • Language: English
  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • ISBN-13: 9781681375915
  • Item Weight: 130.41 grams
  • Dimensions: 6.96 x 4.49 x 0.4 cm

A moving, posthumous collection of elegies and eclogues that meditate on nature, landscape, and history, by a great Hungarian poet.

Szilárd Borbély spent his childhood in a tiny impoverished village in  northeastern Hungary, where the archaic peasant world of Eastern Europe  coexisted with the collectivist ideology of a new Communist state. Close to the Soviet border and far from any metropolitan center, the village was a world apart: life was harsh, monotonous, and often brutal, and the Borbélys, outsiders and “class enemies,” were shunned. In a Bucolic Land, Borbély’s final, posthumously published book of poems, combines autobiography, ethnography, classical mythology, and pastoral idyll in a remarkable central poetic sequence about the starkly precarious and yet strangely numinous liminal zone of his youth. This is framed by elegies for a teacher in which  the poet meditates on the nature of language and speech and on the adequacy of words to speak of and for the dead. Ottilie Mulzet’s English translation conveys the full power of a writer of whom László Krasznahorkai has said, “He was a poet—a great poet—who shatters us.”

About the Author

Szilárd Borbély (1963–2014) was born in Fehérgyarmat in northeastern Hungary and studied Hungarian philology and literature at the University of Debrecen, where he later taught. An authority on Hungarian literature of the late-Baroque period as well as a writer, Borbély was awarded several literary prizes, including the prestigious Palladium Prize in 2005. Widely considered to be one of the most important European poets of the post-Communist period, Borbély’s poetic concerns were broad but generally encompassed the marginalized in Hungarian society.

Ottilie Mulzet is a translator of poetry and prose, as well as a literary critic. She was awarded the Tibor Déry Prize in 2020 and the National Book Award for Translated Literature in 2019 for her translation of László Krasznahorkai’s Baron Wenckheim’s Homecoming. In addition to In a Bucolic Land, she has translated Borbély’s novel The Dispossessed and his verse collections Berlin-Hamlet (NYRB Poets) and Final Matters: Selected Poems, 2004–2010. She is based in Prague.


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