Mandelstam by the
György Faludy (1910-2006), a Jewish-Hungarian humanist, was a towering figure of 20th century European literature and a dominant voice of the anti-Soviet and anti-Nazi resistance. His work in English translation is just beginning to take its rightful place in the bookshops, lecture halls and libraries of the West. He spent some of his most fruitful writing years in exile as well as political imprisonment where he had to entrust many of his poems – including the present piece, below – to memory. His work is once again heavily ignored by the servile Hungarian literary establishment under the country’s current, authoritarian rule. But the city of Toronto has adopted Faludy as its own poet and named after him a park beneath the apartment where he had spent 14 years of his exile. In the united Kingdom, his memoir of resistance to the Nazis and imprisonment by the Communists, My Happy Days in Hell, is published as a Penguin Modern Classic.
When in a slave labour camp in 1951, Faludy wrote these lines about imagined meetings with the Russian poet Osip Mandelstam (1891-1938). Mandelstam, another Jewish humanist, was murdered during Stalin’s purges. In Russia today his work is now widely read and honoured.