The History of the Poetic Mind of János Pilinszky

Gábor Szmeskó


One of the most important poets of postwar Hungarian literature, János Pilinszky’s (1921-1981) poetry represents the problems of connecting with the Other, the imprints of Second World War trauma and the struggle with God’s distance and silence. Although, unlike the case of most of his contemporaries in Eastern bloc Hungary, his poetry has been translated into several languages, he is hardly known in English-speaking countries. The metaphysically accented lyrical worldview and creator-centered aesthetics—which shows parallels with the Christian poetry of Michael Edwards—of this Hungarian poet are difficult to link or to bring into discourse. On the occasion of the most recent publication (Pilinszky 2019) of Pilinszky’s non-literary publications which are practically unknown to non-Hungarian scholars, I attempt to outline the major attributes of Pilinszky’s poetry and aesthetics in order to highlight—with a mystical approach in mind—the intertwining presence of said lyre and aesthetics in his poem, In memoriam F. M. Dosztojevszkij [‘In Memoriam F. M. Dostoevsky’].


Hungarian literature; Catholic literature; mystical poetry; aesthetics; text editing

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Copyright (c) 2020 Gábor Szmeskó

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