Considered one of the best Hungarian prose writers, Magda Szabó has been awarded several Literature prizes in Germany and France. Her legacy is commonly defined as dimensionally European, and the agent of certain values of a civilization presently “at risk”. Szabó died in 2007, at the age of 90.
Born in 1917 in Debrecen, daughter of a judge and a piano player, MS grows up within the intellectual Hungarian elite, and starts seeing her work published by the end of WWII. The Berlin Wall should not take too long to be raised and Magda stops writing, confining herself to work as a Philosophy Teacher in a Calvinist girls-only school.
As a member of the group New Moon, MS so opposes to the regime. This sort of “resistance” means above all, not to create anything that the Communists could show off with. In 1959 Magda starts writing again, this time using her writing as a weapon to deeply criticize the political power. Authorities “tolerate” her, only because of the little influence she has on media, but thanks to Hermann Hesse’s support, Magda’s books are translated into German. Suddenly, her fame “spreads” out of the Hungarian borders. From this moment on, nobody can stop Magda from speaking up.
The only novels translated into Spanish are:
La balada de Iza, 1963 . Very successful, shows a great concern for the problems of the elderly.
Calle Katalin, 1969. In it, MS explores the boundaries of collective guilt, and underlines the many different ways to understand and live with someone’s absence.
La puerta, 1987. Both her last and best piece of work, and awarded the French Literature Prize Prix Femina Étranger. Highly autobiographic, La puerta takes us back to the seventies – when she started writing again and even becomes “mediatic”- and focuses on the long and sometimes difficult relationship with her maid. This relationship will somehow bias MS’s point of view.