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István Kemény (Hungary)

István Kemény entered university to study law, but switched to Hungarian literature and history, graduating in these subjects in 1993. In his early poetry collections he continued the prevailing trends of decadence and symbolism. He won two literary prizes while still in his twenties. Kemény also writes short prose pieces in which he addresses moral questions in a sober style: human indifference, environmental pollution, God's thoughts about the world. The early volumes of Kemény's poetry caused a positive explosion on the literary scene and particularly in the universities. His titles are revealing: Circular Staircase to the Forgotten Departments (1984), Playing with Poisons and Anti-Poisons (1987), The Art of the Enemy (a novella, 1989) and Themes from the Film Rococo (short stories, 1991). His poetic and prose forms revealed a need for a kind of classicism and, for a while, a new type of symbolism and sensibility. In his poems Kemény repeatedly makes us face up to the fragility of everyday language.