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Skylark (1923)

por Dezső Kosztolányi

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MembrosCríticasPopularidadeAvaliação médiaMenções
6082538,756 (3.93)70
It is 1900, give or take a few years. The Vajkays--call them Mother and Father--live in Sárszeg, a dead-end burg in the provincial heart of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Father retired some years ago to devote his days to genealogical research and quaint questions of heraldry. Mother keeps house. Both are utterly enthralled with their daughter, Skylark. Unintelligent, unimaginative, unattractive, and unmarried, Skylark cooks and sews for her parents and anchors the unremitting tedium of their lives. Now Skylark is going away, for one week only, it's true, but a week that yawns endlessly for her parents. What will they do? Before they know it, they are eating at restaurants, reconnecting with old friends, attending the theater. And this is just a prelude to Father's night out at the Panther Club, about which the less said the better. Drunk, in the light of dawn Father surprises himself and Mother with his true, buried, unspeakable feelings about Skylark. Then, Skylark is back. Is there a world beyond the daily grind and life's creeping disappointments? Kosztolányi's crystalline prose, perfect comic timing, and profound human sympathy conjure up a tantalizing beauty that lies on the far side of the irredeemably ordinary. To that extent, Skylark is nothing less than a magical book.… (mais)
  1. 20
    Villette por Charlotte Brontë (cbl_tn)
    cbl_tn: Skylark reminded me of Lucy Snowe, with the difference being that Skylark's parents are living and insulate her from some of the bleak realities that Lucy Snowe must confront.
  2. 00
    The Door por Magda Szabó (gust)
  3. 00
    Katalin Street por Magda Szabó (gust, gust)
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This compact, subtly playful novel by Hungarian critic and poet Dezső Kosztolányi (1885-1936) chronicles the uneventful lives of the Vajkay family, who reside in a parochial outpost called Sárszeg, somewhere within the borders of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. We meet Akos Vajkay and his wife (the narrator usually refers to them as Mother and Father) as the 19th Century is winding down. It’s September 1, and they are packing because their daughter, nicknamed Skylark (we never learn her real name), is leaving for a week to visit her aunt and uncle in Tarkö, on the Hungarian plain. Akos is retired and spends his days researching heraldry and lineages. His wife keeps house. But it seems the presiding force within the Vajkay home is Skylark, who, at thirty-five, unattached with no prospects, well versed in household chores, is both a hopeless burden and a constant focus of doting attention for her parents. Once Skylark has left them standing on the station platform, “waving their little handkerchiefs” as her train recedes from view, the parents are bereft. Skylark too, on board the train, unaccustomed to being on her own without distractions, succumbs to the loneliness and despair that constantly plagues her. But it turns out all is not lost. In their daughter’s absence, Akos and his wife are free to do as they please. They dine out at the best restaurant in town. They attend the theatre. Akos reconnects with a jolly crowd of revelers called the Panthers, with whom he used to socialize but withdrew from after marrying and becoming a father. His wife also enjoys the week emancipated from the daughter’s sobering presence, neglecting the housework, eating chocolate, and playing the piano, which we are told she hasn’t touched in many years. Akos had renounced alcohol and gambling but, encouraged by his friends to throw off the shackles of sobriety, he again takes up the bottle and the cards, and in the small hours of Friday morning returns home uproariously drunk with his winnings overflowing his pockets. It is then, while in the throes of inebriation, that Akos voices to his wife the grim truth of which they are painfully aware but have avoided facing: that their daughter is irredeemably ugly and will never find a husband. For Skylark too, after a good cry on the train, the week is pleasing. Every day is full. In a letter sent while on holiday she regales her parents with a litany of the activities she and her relatives have got up to. Then the week is over. Skylark returns home. Her parents are genuinely ecstatic and relieved to have her back where she belongs, safe in the nest. Life for the Vajkay family returns to normal. It is perhaps a cloistered, unremarkable life, buttoned-down and filled with familiar ritual, in some respects disappointing, but comfortable. The ironies here are subtle, the humour subdued. Kosztolányi never mocks his characters, who take their amusements where they can find them. He simply lets them be. In Skylark, Kosztolányi is sketching a way of life that is neither tragic nor triumphant and in so doing has written a moving and memorable novel. ( )
  icolford | Sep 25, 2023 |
This is what I wrote in 2011 about this read: 'This is a really, really good book. Written in the 1920's, about a family of three in Hungary in just before the turn of the century. Memorable, human characters; how sad they are. What a twist to have the parents party while the child is away, and how interesting to have comedy and farce intertwined with daily, human suffering." ( )
  MGADMJK | Aug 25, 2023 |
Mother and Father live in a small provincial Hungarian town, and have devoted their lives to their daughter Skylark. Hope springs eternal that a husband will be found for Skylark, but there is no getting around that fact that she is plain, perhaps ugly is not too harsh a description.
Toward the end of one summer at the turn of the century, Skylark goes away to visit relatives for a week. During Skylark's week away, Mother and Father start enjoying life again, living it up, eating in restaurants, going to the theater. Will the changes they make prevail after Skylark returns?
This is a delightful book, but also a bittersweet book, funny and sad at the same time. We had a great discussion on Litsy. I have 2 more books by Kosztolanyi on my shelf, and hope to get to them soon.

Highly recommended.
4 stars ( )
  arubabookwoman | Aug 6, 2021 |
La piccola storia di un ecosistema familiare chiuso in sé, isolato dal mondo, autoreferenziale, costruito sull'inesorabile dipendenza di ciascun membro dagli altri. La separazione per una vacanza rompe questo perfetto seppur perverso equilibrio e, come liberati, i genitori lasciati soli dalla figlia scoprono le gioie del sempre disprezzato ristorante, del teatro, dei rapporti sociali con tutti i loro piccoli e grandi intrighi tipici della vita di provincia. Quasi come inesperti adolescenti passano persino il segno: mai il vecchio papà avrebbe probabilmente immaginato di potersi lanciare in una notte brava come quella che vive coi ritrovati compagni del circolo, abbandonati ormai da tanti anni.
Ma è il gioco di una settimana. Allodola, la figlia ormai sfiorita che conserva il patetico soprannome datole da bambina, torna dalla campagna e l'antico meccanismo si ricostituisce, il gruppo si rinsalda e si richiude al mondo, la grigia cappa di inespressa tristezza travestita da soddisfatto godimento della pace domestica torna a pesare sull'anima. Però qualche dubbio si è intanto fatto strada nella tranquillità priva di interrogativi dei genitori mentre Allodola riprende i suoi solitari pianti notturni, unica valvola di sfogo in una vita votata al soffocamento di se stessa e delle proprie pulsioni. Un piccolo gioiello, imperdonabile che uno scrittore del livello di Dezső Kosztolányi sia così poco tradotto in italiano. ( )
  winckelmann | Sep 21, 2017 |
Dochter gaat een week met vakantie. Voor de ouders betekent dat heel wat, en er verandert iets thuis in die week... ( )
  huizenga | Aug 24, 2016 |
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Nome do autorPapelTipo de autorObra?Estado
Dezső Kosztolányiautor principaltodas as ediçõescalculado
Aczel, RichardTradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Eisterer, HeinrichTradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Esterházy, PeterIntroduçãoautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Kammer, HenryTradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Rakusa, IlmaPosfácioautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
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It is 1900, give or take a few years. The Vajkays--call them Mother and Father--live in Sárszeg, a dead-end burg in the provincial heart of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Father retired some years ago to devote his days to genealogical research and quaint questions of heraldry. Mother keeps house. Both are utterly enthralled with their daughter, Skylark. Unintelligent, unimaginative, unattractive, and unmarried, Skylark cooks and sews for her parents and anchors the unremitting tedium of their lives. Now Skylark is going away, for one week only, it's true, but a week that yawns endlessly for her parents. What will they do? Before they know it, they are eating at restaurants, reconnecting with old friends, attending the theater. And this is just a prelude to Father's night out at the Panther Club, about which the less said the better. Drunk, in the light of dawn Father surprises himself and Mother with his true, buried, unspeakable feelings about Skylark. Then, Skylark is back. Is there a world beyond the daily grind and life's creeping disappointments? Kosztolányi's crystalline prose, perfect comic timing, and profound human sympathy conjure up a tantalizing beauty that lies on the far side of the irredeemably ordinary. To that extent, Skylark is nothing less than a magical book.

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