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Skylark by Dezső Kosztolányi
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Skylark (1923)

by Dezső Kosztolányi

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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2981837,648 (3.97)51
  1. 20
    Villette by 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
    Katalin Street by Magda Szabó (gust, gust)
  3. 00
    The Door by Magda Szabó (gust)
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» See also 51 mentions

English (17)  Dutch (1)  All languages (18)
Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
Skylark, unmarried, 35, and still living with her parents, goes to visit relatives for a week. In her absence, her parents indulge in lost pleasures that they had abandoned. On the final night, however, her father has a sudden insight about Skylark that he shares with his wife. The final chapters--well, I don't want to give anything away. Great book.

Most of the book is wonderfully sensual--food, theatre, cards, drinking, all against the backdrop of small town Hungarian life in 1899. ( )
  ipsoivan | Apr 19, 2014 |
A one day read, a little over 200 pages. Translated from the Hungarian. The author lived 1885 to 1936. Takes place in 1899. An old couple’s old maid of a daughter goes away for a week, to visit family. The old couple, at first bereft at the absence of their unexciting and uninteresting daughter, soon surprise themselves by discovering a social world outside of their reclusive home. They rediscover old friends, restaurants, the theatre. It is a comic novel — his descriptions of the daughter in particular are cutting, yet all done in a style of “I calls ‘em as I sees ‘em” A gently comic novel, with unerringly accurate and insightful descriptions of motives, relationships. Best of all were his descriptions of the ugly old maid daughter of the old couple. ( )
1 vote BCbookjunky | Mar 31, 2013 |
A silhouette of life in early 20th-century Hungary. People are carried along by what they do. Kosz has tender and precise prose. ( )
  HadriantheBlind | Mar 30, 2013 |
We'll be traveling to Hungary soon and this book is one of the few available in translation here by a popular Hungarian writer of the early 20th century, Dezső Kosztolányi.

So first I'll say that the writing was very enjoyable, that I came to really like characters that I thought at the beginning would bore me to tears the whole book, and that the book can be incredibly funny at times. But, by God, this book was depressing to me. At the end I wanted to scream "Affect change! All of your lives could be so much better! So much more!" Silly American that I am.

So there is a small family. An "ugly" daughter--a spinster at 35, and her two adoring parents. She maintains the house and their lives. The parents adore her. She is to go on a short trip to the country. They are all devastated. What in the world will they do for the whole week? The answer turns out to be, have a freakin life. So they get dragged back into their social connections and personal interests and have a delightful week. She spends a week in the country not getting the husband and family that she so desperately wants or enjoying the company of her extended family, and then she comes back. They go back to being shut-ins with bland food instead of awesome goulash and palinka parties.

According to the introduction, Kosztolányi found it pretty much impossible to write about anything but the fact that we are dying. The examples of personal suffering are poignant, no one in the book is NOT suffering the daughter's fate as all of their hearts break along with hers. But myself, free from the 20th-century Magyar's baggage and saddled with my own American millennial mindset was so angry at them for not doing something to make things better. Don't get me wrong, I didn't want or expect her to get a makeover or marriage prospects. (I would have been way more angry at the end.) I just want them to do something to make their lives better instead of suffering so much, but I guess, realistically or fatalistically, that's generally not how life is.

PS - We are all dying. Thanks, Kosztolányi. ( )
  alwright1 | Mar 30, 2013 |
I liked part of this book, and the writing style was simple but pleasing. However, some of it is sad, and I expected more to happen at the end. ( )
  digitalmaven | Jan 19, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (6 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Dezső Kosztolányiprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kammer, HenryTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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De divan in de eetkamer was bezaaid met stukjes koord in de nationale kleuren, eindjes paktouw en snippers papier.

The dining-room sofa was strewn with strands of red, white and green cord, clippings of packing twine, shreds of wrapping paper and the scattered, crumpled pages of the local daily, the same fat letters at the top of each page: Sarszeg Gazette, 1899.
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In 1899, in the provincial heart of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, unintelligent, unimaginative, unattractive, and unmarried Skylark cooks and sews for her parents and anchors the unremitting tedium of their lives. When Skylark goes away for a week, they find themselves eating at restaurants, reconnecting with old friends, and attending the theater. Is there a world beyond the daily grind and life's creeping disappointments?… (more)

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NYRB Classics

2 editions of this book were published by NYRB Classics.

Editions: 1590173392, 159017402X

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