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“What you have loved remains yours.” Thus speaks the irresistible rogue Sindbad, ironic hero of these fantastic tales, who has seduced and abandoned countless women over the course of centuries but never lost one, for he returns to visit them all—ladies, actresses, housemaids—in his memories and dreams. From the bustling streets of Budapest to small provincial towns where nothing ever seems to change, this ghostly Lothario encounters his old flames wherever he goes: along the banks of the Danube; under windows where they once courted; in churches and in graveyards, where Eros and Thanatos tryst. Lies, bad behavior, and fickleness of all kinds are forgiven, and love is reaffirmed as the only thing worth persevering for, weeping for, and living for.
The Adventures of Sindbad is the Hungarian master Gyula Krúdy’s most famous book, an uncanny evocation of the autumn of the Hapsburg Empire that is enormously popular not only in Hungary but throughout Eastern Europe.
About the Author
Gyula Krúdy (1878–1933) was born in Nyíregyháza in northeastern Hungary. His mother had been a maid for the aristocratic Krúdy family, and she and his father, a lawyer, did not marry until Gyula was seventeen. Krúdy began writing short stories and publishing brief newspaper pieces while still in his teens. Rebelling against his father’s wish that he become a lawyer, he worked as a newspaper editor for several years before moving to Budapest, where he, his wife, and two children lived off the money he made as a writer of short stories. In 1911 he found success with Sindbad’s Youth, the first of his books recounting the exploits of his fictional alter ego. Krúdy’s subsequent novels about contemporary Budapest, including The Crimson Coach (1914) and Sunflower (1918; available from NYR B Classics), proved popular during the First World War and the Hungarian Revolution, but his drinking, gambling, and philandering left him broke and led to the dissolution of his first marriage. During the late 1920s and early 1930s, Krúdy suffered from declining health and a diminishing readership, even as he was awarded Hungary’s most prestigious literary award, the Baumgarten Prize. Forgotten in the years after his death, Krúdy was rediscovered in 1940, when Sándor Márai published Sindbad Comes Home, a fictionalized account of Krúdy’s last day. The success of the book led to a revival of Krúdy’s works and to his recognition as one of the greatest Hungarian writers.
George Szirtes is a Hungarian-born English poet and translator. He received the T. S. Eliot Prize for Reel (2004), and his New and Collected Poems were published in 2008. As a translator of poetry and fiction he has won a variety of prizes and awards, including the European Poetry Translation Prize and the Déry Prize.
Praise for The Adventures of Sindbad…
“[Krúdy’s] literary power and greatness are almost past comprehension . . . Few in world literature could so vivify the mythical in reality . . . With a few pencil strokes he draws apocalyptic scenes about sex, flesh, human cruelty and hopelessness.” —Sándor Márai
"There is about Krúdy an absolutely railed-down otherworldliness. A brilliant spectrum where reality is just one possible colour… This book is just a gift. I am grateful to George Szirtes for making it possible for me to read it and praise it." —Michael Hofmann, The Times Literary Supplement
"The Adventures follows a dream-weaving seducer, and Krúdy’s prose is appropriately seductive, a litany of long, languid, sighing sentences that introduce an element of enchantment to Sindbad’s universe of provincial inns and restaurants in Pest where one might rendezvous with an actress or a goldsmith’s wife....Sindbad’s Adventures, then, are some of the loveliest violet-tinted lies ever put to paper—wreathed around some very nettling truths about what we call love." -- The L Magazine