Translated by Bernard Adams
Introduction by George F. Cushing
Corvina Books, Ltd. (2007)
ISBN 978 963 13 5524 6
"The only relation to love is the one that’s of use to you": problems in post-World War I Hungary
Lina and Magdaléna
Introduction to Móricz and the novel
Another day, another dead computer. This is getting frustrating.
Here is a summary for my links to this wonderful novel. I think I've said almost all I can say in the linked posts. I highly recommend the novel and hope other readers will explore his work.
Here is part of the summary of the novel from the author's page at Publishing Hungary. I have reformatted the text in order to make it easier to read:
Relatives (Rokonok) (1932) This utterly bitter novel of Móricz’s is set in a small town, around the great depression of 1929, showing the state of rural Hungary in the 1930s through the fate of a self-torturing intellectual. A strongly sociographical work about the small town’s life, it sheds light on the corrupt state of county world, on the panamas of the mayor’s office, of regional banks, shareholders and enterprises, and even on the illusory work of the parliament and the opposition.
In the town of Zsarátnok, a new public prosecutor is being elected, as his predecessor lined his pockets more than generally accepted, crossing other people’s interests. A harmless candidate is sought so as to be bribed from the first moment in a way that by the time he can realize it, he should be entangled in the affairs beyond measure. The middle-aged István Kopjáss [Pista] is somewhat more sensible and quicker-witted than the average – if not more scrupulous. Originally a man of social sensitivity, as a cultural councillor he used to hand in petitions for schools, naturally in vain. In his new position, he tries to get informed and soon realizes that his predecessor got into trouble in connection with the Pig-Farm Share Company near the town, but he does not suspect the proportions of the scandal. Meanwhile he is warmly encouraged by the mayor and the manager of the savings bank. ...
Kopjáss is happily married, and with his beautiful wife they can decently raise their two student sons. Although they have two rooms only, thanks to the woman’s sober economizing, they never went into debt even under the depression. They do not communicate much with their relatives, but when they [the relatives] learn of Kopjáss’s promotion, they turn up one by one – here Móricz lets his satirical vision loose. Wishing to help them all, Kopjáss immediately thinks of good jobs in the city for his brothers. But the real danger arrives in the person of an uncle infamous of his suspicious deals, who proposes to transport coal to the city, offering 20 percent of the profit. His nephew does not pry into how legal this is, and does not suspect the danger which naturally leads to his decline.
In the short span between his promotion and his fall, Kopjáss starts an investigation about the Pig Farm. He learns that the main share-holders involved in the panama are the heads of the town, the mayor and the manager of the savings bank. Naively he deludes himself to be able to eliminate the corruption by turning to the public. ... Through the struggle of the intellectual learning to lie to himself, Móricz wrote a critique of the upper classes, the gentries and the roots of the crisis of the Hungarian society. The novel has been adapted to the screen twice, in 1954 it was directed by Félix Máriássy, starring Klári Tolnay and László Ungvári and in 2006 by István Szabó, starring Sándor Csányi and Ildikó Tóth.