Translated by Ottilie Mulzet (New York Review Books, paperback)
Publication Date: November 30, 2021
Publisher Marketing: A moving, posthumous collection of elegies and eclogues that meditate on nature, landscape, and history, by a great Hungarian poet.
Szilárd Borbély's is one of the most searching and powerful poetic voices to emerge in the twenty-first century. In a Bucolic Land was Borbély's final work, completed but left unpublished at the time of his premature death in 2014. At the heart of the book are poems in which Borbély returns to his 1960s childhood in a tiny impoverished town in northeastern Hungary. Conditions were brutal, as the poems attest, even as, shifting between present and past, they are also invested with a strange shimmering sense of myth and eternity. The book opens and closes with two elegies for Borbély's teacher Lajos Szuromi in which the poet meditates on the nature of language and speech and on the adequacy of words to speak of and for the dead. Ottilie Mulzet's English translation conveys the full power of a writer of whom László Krasznahorkai has said, He was a poet--a great poet--who shatters us.