George Faludy: Torontonian and Great 20th Century Hungarian Poet
Rediscovered by Torontonian, poet and critic Christopher Doda.
George Faludy died last year at the age of 96. Widely considered the greatest Hungarian poet of the 20th century, he spent 20 years in Toronto, taking Canadian citizenship in 1976, and only returning to Budapest after the end of the East Bloc in 1989. Faludy ran afoul of successive governments in his native land: he first fled the fascists in the 1930s for France, northern Africa, and the US only to return in 1945 to a Hungary increasingly under communist control. He was arrested in 1950 and spent three years in a secret concentration camp in the town of Resck. Deprived of any means of writing, he began to memorize his works and took the extraordinary measure of organizing salon-type discussions with fellow prisoners. Many of those who dropped out of the discussions later perished, while those who talked into the long nights survived. Again fleeing Hungary after the suppression of the 1956 uprising, he bounced around Europe for a decade before arriving in Toronto in 1967. The essay on him introduces some of the main themes and characteristics of his work, and argues that translation is an underappreciated art in Canada, especially that which comes from Europe outside our two official languages.