After the previous post I’m continuing with translating another literary text written by early-20th century writer and columnist, Zsigmond Móricz. The original and full stories In Hungarian appeared in his prose collection called Paprika is in the air. From the writings we get to know Szeged the city and its people in the 1910s through the insights of a non-native visitor.
Móricz was a frequent visitor in the city when he was collecting material for his novel on the famous outlaw, Sándor Rózsa. On such visits he loved to sit and talk to local people, find them out, seek out what they were like, how they spoke, what made them Szegedi (person or thing from Szeged). Szeged at the time was a new and upcoming town in the country: it had a freshly built inner city that copied Budapest in looks, but was built on a much smaller scale, of course. For Móricz, this was deception and facade. For him, real Szeged lay beyond those glittery avenues and ring-roads.
In his book Sándor Rózsa, the main character speaks with a Szegedi accent. In order for Móricz to recreate that language and the personality he had to spend time with the people, hear them talk, listen to intonation of their speech, and listen to what they were saying. And he loved to do this! He was a great talker, was genuinely interested in people and he deeply respected everything that was unpretentious. He found that unpretence in simple people outside the inner city.
Móricz could never properly recreate the music of the szegedi dialect in his novel, but he managed to track down the real szegedi man. The szegedi man was tall and red-faced, but not from drink, he was sound-minded and good-humoured. He was tough and brisk. He found joy and humour in simple things. He remembered and heartily spoke about memories of the war of independence in 1849 and those of the Great Flood of Szeged in 1879 as well as old things before machines came. He spoke with vivid descriptions and found the positive and the humane in times of tragedy and war.
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