Szathmári, Sándor

Tagged: Author

(1897-1974) Hungarian engineer and author whose Gulliver utazása Kazohiniában ["Gulliver's Travels in Kazohinia"] (1941; final rev as Kazohinia 1957; trans Inez Kemenes as Kazohinia 1975; trans rev vt as Voyage to Kazohinia 2012) [for details see Checklist] is a complex, scathingly comic Satire on twentieth century versions of Utopia. Composed as a Sequel by Other Hands to Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels (1726; rev 1735) (for further examples see Gulliver), it presents Gulliver's bewilderedly straitlaced and culture-bound account of his experiences on the Island of Kazohina after his ship sinks in a storm. He first encounters the Houyhnhnm-like Hins, who inhabit a seamlessly and emotionlessly egalitarian Utopia with highly advanced Technology, including moving sidewalks and other forms of Transportation and Communication. There is no money; there are no classes; Hins cannot comprehend the nature of lying. Their nature, and the uniformitarian world they inhabit, represent a homage to – but more forcibly a Parody and critique of – enlightenment rationality. Because a trick of Evolution has made it impossible for human minds to generate causeless self-reflections (which is to say noise), Hins have, as a result, no art forms, because everyone perceives the same reality. There can be no conflict, because there can be no discrepancies in the Perception of things.

Gulliver cannot grasp the benefits of enlightenment – Sex for instance, is uncluttered by norman human noise – and can see only the deadened flatness of this world. He therefore asks to be sent to the reservation where the Behins are confined. Their society, a conspicuously dreadful Dystopia, is the mirror reversal of the other, behaviour being governed by verbal tags, insane distinctions, ideas which are held to savagely because they have been believed for centuries. Though the reservation is fully serviced by the dispassionate Hin, a crazed (but recognizable) capitalism creates artificial scarcities out of plenitude. Behins starve to death outside the walls of stuffed granaries. The Behins are clearly a Satire on the flagrantly self-destructive nationalisms and Religions and fetishes of the twentieth century world; but Gulliver cannot comprehend that these Yahoos are portraits of him and his beloved Britain. In the end, he escapes, having learned virtually nothing – the complex interactions between author, narrator, and observed worlds closely refect Swift's own (sometimes misunderstood) technique in Gulliver's Travels. Kazohinia is an important mid-century example of its form, a between-the-wars text with echoes throughout of aftermath despair and premonitions of things to come. Some apparent echoes of Aldous Huxley's Brave New World (1932) seem coincidental, as that book was only translated into Hungarian after Kazohinia had been composed. [JC]

Sándor Szathmári

born Gyula, Hungary, Austro-Hungarian Empire: 19 June 1897

died Budapest, Hungary: 16 July 1974

works

  • Gulliver utazása Kazohiniában ["Gulliver's Travels in Kazohinia"] (Budapest, Hungary: Bolyai Akadémia, 1941) [censored text: binding unknown/]
    • Utazásas Kazohiniában ["Travel in Kazohinia"] (Budapest, Hungary: Magyar Élet kiadśa, 1946) [rev vt of the above: with censored portions restored: binding unknown/]
      • Kazohinia (Budapest, Hungary: Magvető Könyvkiadó, 1957) [rev vt of the above: with undetermined changes: binding unknown/]
        • Kazohinia (Budapest, Hungary: Corvina Press, 1975) [trans by Inez Kemenes with Fred Macnicol of the above: hb/Mária Hódosi]
          • Voyage to Kazohinia (North Adam, Massachusetts: New Europe Books, 2012) [rev vt of the above: revised trans by Inez Kemenes alone: pb/András Baranyai]

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