Securing of Evidence
The volume Spurensicherung (Securing of Evidence), which is to be published for the Mészöly anniversary year 2021, contains a total of five texts by Mészöly:
1. Levél a völgyből (1964)
2. Nyomozás I (1970)
3. Nyomozás II (1970)
4. Nyomozás III. (1971)
5 Nyomozás IV. (1988)
The texts Levél... and Nyomozás I-III formed a cycle in the volume Alakulások of 1976, Nyomozás IV was written later and was included in the volume Volt egyszer egy Közép-Európa, in which Nyomozás I-IV form a cycle.
Nyomozás I is already available in German translation under the title “Spurensicherung” in Hildegard Grosche’s translation. We will take this text from the volume “Landkarte mit Rissen” (1976) with the permission of Hanser Verlag (request attached). The five Mészöly texts will be supplemented by an afterword by the editor. The volume will be illustrated with original woodcuts by Christian Thanhäuser, who will visit in Hungary the most important places and sites of Mészöly’s texts in November 2020 as a study trip to make illustrations of these sites. The volume presents a group of texts conceived by the author himself as a cycle, which became extremely important for later Hungarian narrative prose through its associative narrative technique, through the mixing of layers of time, and through the fact that the texts actually present themselves as a preliminary stage to the narrative: they are, after all, evocations and visualizations of the past and at the same time the presentation of the many ways in which narratives can be made from these “secured” pieces of evidence.
The conceptual (but also motivic, etc.) coherence of the texts of this cycle and the unique presentation of the volume with the help of numerous illustrations will make this book more than a mere festive publication. It will also provide a suitable means of drawing attention to Mészöly again and giving a new impetus to the international reception of his oeuvre, which has unfortunately remained sparse.
Miklós Mészöly (1921 - 2001), who was to celebrate his 100th birthday in 2020, is one of the most important and best-known Hungarian writers of the 20th century. He published his works from 1943, worked as a freelance writer from 1956, and the volumes of his self-assembled edition of works have been published continuously since 1995.
Throughout his career, he corresponded regularly with writers from West and East Central Europe, and he received scholarships, e.g. to West Berlin in 1973-1974. Many of his works were translated, but he has not yet made an international breakthrough.
Mészöly’s works have had a lasting impact on Hungarian prose, especially on Péter Nádas and on a newer generation of novelists, such as László Darvasi, who in the 1990s turned to historical, especially specifically Central European themes. Mészöly was virtually ignored by critics until the early 1970s, so his works from the first collections of stories did not receive attention until they were included in later volumes, such as the famous anthology Alakulások (1975), which presents Mészöly’s poetics in its full scope.