István Eörsi (1931-2005)

István Eörsi, Kiev Restaurant, NYC August, 1984. photo c. Allen Ginsberg Estate

Today marks the anniversary, six years on, of the death of István Eörsi, Allen’s friend, Hungarian translator, documentarian (1997’s “A Poet on The Lower East Side”), and, considerable presence in his own terms – poet, playwright and political activist (Eörsi, a student (and life-long disciple) of the philosopher Georg Lukács, was imprisoned in 1956, following his activities as part of the Hungarian uprising, and spent three-and-a-half years in jail).

A “clowning stoic” as his friend George Konrad once described him, Eörsi remained true, uncorrupted, deeply committed, a gadfly for the truth, a significant intellectual and cultural figure for the next more-than-four decades.

In 1989, when Communism fell, he was one of the founding members of the Hungarian liberal party (SzDSz – Alliance of Free Democrats – true to his maverick status, he left the party in 2004). His last published article, as George Gomori notes, in a reasonably comprehensive obituary notice in London’s Guardian, was, “characteristically (sic)”, “a protest against the editor of a Hungarian television program, who (had) cut certain sentences out of an interview conducted with him a few days earlier”. His death (from leukemia) was a tragedy. We remember him well and raise a glass of slivovitz to him (his favorite tipple!). He remains fondly recalled and sorely missed.

A very dear memoir of him (and also of Allen) may be read here in Mark Scott’s recent piece in College Hill Review “Illinois Jacquet, Allen Ginsberg, István Eörsi and My Father”. More personal insight into István (and into Allen!).

A short poem of his (in English) appears here in European Cultural Review.

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