Versions of Triangular Desire in Hungarian Literature: Reading Sándor Márai and Péter Nádas


  • Enikő Bollobás



Sándor Márai, Péter Nádas, triangles of desire, patriarchal triangles, intersubjective triangles


Two Hungarian authors, Sándor Márai and Péter Nádas, seem to have one thing in common: their attraction to triangular relationships. Written between 1935 and 1942 and portraying human relations in pre-World War II Hungary, Márai’s two novels and one drama all turn on a very specific triangular structure between two close friends and the woman whom they both love(d). Now they conduct a painful tête-à-tête to decide on the final ownership (or simply fate) of the woman. Written in 1979 and portraying human relations in communist Hungary, Nádas’s play has only two actors on stage, a woman of aristocratic descent and a young man, the son of a high-ranking communist official, the woman’s long dead lover. This exchange between the two characters opens into an encounter of three, where the woman and the young man each use the other as a mediator to reach the third, the lover/father. Bollobás argues that the triangles displayed by the two authors represent two distinct types: the former is informed by fixed, hierarchical, subject-object power relations, while the latter by fluid, non-hierarchical, subject-subject relations.






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