Sunday, 23 August 2009

Ludwig Museum

From wild heat to long steady downpour. 20 August is traditionally when the weather breaks here, the stifling heat broken up by thunderstorms and a drop of some 10C. I write this early on Sunday morning from the flat next to our dear friends L and G (practically brother and sisters) the morning after the break in the weather. The first day - Friday - was a matter of C going to meet old friend over from UK, me doing some work translating, then getting travel tickets from the nearest major station, Moszkva tér, having a bite for lunch then hopping on a bus back up the hill. It being a public holiday we talked and talked with L and G. More work.

Yesterday morning I continued the translation but went for an hour to the studios of Klub Radio - a liberal-leftish station - to record an interview in Hungarian, mostly about my bilingual selected poems, Angol Szavak / English Words, but also about my Madách translation, a new edition of which appeared just a few weeks ago. It was a very friendly set up, a woman and a man handling the questions. To my surprise they asked me to read three of the poems in the Hungarian translations. I had never done that before and stumbled twice on longer words but on the whole it was fine. The questions were essentially of a biographical kind - stories being what they - and I suppose most listeners - want. Generally my Hungarian was all right though I am always aware I would be saying the same thing more precisely, with a more exact sense of its psychological weight, in English.

Back home we talked more and I did a little more translation before we decided to go for lunch in a restaurant at the hilly outskirts of Buda. The food was good, the waiters like somewhat surly professors of grammar, but a beautiful garden adds the necessary lightness.

Then out to MuPa, the Palace of Art, the Ludwig Museum part where there are two photography exhibitions - one of thirties social photography, the other of the life work of Robert Capa (Endre Friedmann). The new National Theatre stands just in front of the equally new MuPa and the contrast is startling. I can honestly say The National Theatre is one of the most hideous buildings I have seen in recent years. I can't get properly on the net in this room - the sporadic posting might be because of that - but a picture will be provided. I don't say this because of my political prejudices but, if my prejudices needed justifying this building would be all the justification needed. It is a folkish-postmodern gallimaufry that is all but pure Ceausescu, with so many 'eclectic' motifs that it reminds me of a particularly kitschy presentation of chocolates. The history of its building and siting is fascinating. More another time.

MuPa is a much more straightforward modern affair, grand but not showy, with a faintly boat-like theme, slender pilotis holding wide sweepingspaces. It has a seventies air but is altogether lighter, proper craftsmanship.

The exhibitions will be a separate post, following this.

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