Tibor Dery (October 18, 1894 - August 18, 1978)
Born: 18th October, 1894
Died: 18th August, 1978
Nationality: Hungarian writer
Region: Budapest, Hungary
Notable works: Hungarian Communist Party

Tibor Dery Facts

Biography

Tibor Dery, Hungarian form Dery Tibor, (born Oct. 18, 1894, Budapest, Hung.--died Aug. 18, 1978, Budapest), Hungarian novelist, short-story writer, poet, and playwright, one of the most respected and controversial figures in 20th-century Hungarian literature. He was imprisoned for his role in the 1956 revolution.

Born to an upper-middle-class Jewish family, Dery graduated from the Academy of Commerce in Budapest. From 1913 to 1918 he worked as a factory clerk and wrote many poems and essays. His novel Lia (1917) led to a charge of indecency. Between 1917 and 1919 many of his poems and short stories were published in Nyugat ("West"), one of the most influential literary magazines of the time. During the 1918 revolution, he joined the Hungarian Communist Party, and in 1919, under the Hungarian Soviet Republic, he became a member of the Writers' Union. His Szemtol szembe ("Eye to Eye"), a series of three books, examines the psychological aspects of revolution. After the republic's collapse he was jailed for a short time; then he emigrated first to Czechoslovakia and then to Austria, where he worked for the Becsi Magyar Ujsag ("Hungarian News of Vienna"). Later he went to Bavaria, then to Paris in 1923, and to Italy in 1926. In this period he wrote Surrealist poems and prose works and completed his avant-garde play Az oriascsecsemo ("The Giant Baby"). In 1926 he returned to Budapest, where he became an editor of the journal Dokumentum and translated literary works from German, French, English, and Italian.

In 1933 Dery returned to Vienna, took part in the Schutzbund uprising, and began work on perhaps his most important work, the novel A befejezetlen mondat ("The Unfinished Sentence"), completed in 1937 but published a decade later.

He found it increasingly difficult to publish his own writing and relied on translating to eke out a living. In 1938 he translated the diaries of French writer Andre Gide, which included a description of Gide's visit to the Soviet Union, and in consequence Dery was sentenced to two months in prison. When Hungary was occupied by Nazi forces (March 19, 1944), he was forced into hiding.

After the war, Dery rejoined the Communist Party and became a member of the leading body of the Hungarian Writers' Association. His earlier works were published one after the other: Szemtol szembe (1945), Alvilagi jatekok (1946; "Games of the Underworld"), Befejezetlen mondat (1947), and Jokedv es buzgalom (1948; "Cheerfulness and Eagerness"). His plays Tukor (1947; "Mirror"), Tanuk (1948; "Witnesses"), and Itthon (1958; "At Home") were performed by the Hungarian National Theatre.

The publication of the first two volumes of Felelet ("Answer"), a panoramic novel of interwar Hungary, provoked political debate and heavy criticism from Communist Party officials, and Dery abandoned the planned tetralogy. Over the next few years he published mainly shorter writings, including the novellas Niki: egy kutya tortenete (1955; "Niki: A Dog's Story") and Szerelem (1956; "Love"), both set during the period of Joseph Stalin's rule in the Soviet Union.

Before the Petofi Circle (a group of reform-minded young Communist intellectuals) in June 1956, he publicly condemned the Communist leadership, and he was expelled from the party. After the failure of the 1956 revolution he was sentenced to nine years in prison. Partly because of an international campaign on his behalf, he was released in 1961 and granted amnesty in 1962.

Irony, tragedy, and the theme of coping with old age are common elements in Dery's later works, which include G.A. ur X.-ben (1964; "Mr G.A. in X"), a Kafka-esque novel that he wrote in prison; the politico-historical parable A kikozosito (1966; "The Excommunicator"), based on the figure of St. Ambrose of Milan; Itelet nincs (1969; "No Judgment"), a whimsical autobiography; and the novella Kedves bopeer (1973; "Dear Father-in-Law").

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