My dearest Szilárd,
Although there was a time when you weren’t in my life — before I heard you reading your work for the first time at the JAK Translation Workshop in Gödöllő in July 2003 — now it seems difficult to imagine that such a time even existed. Just as I can’t seem to wrap my head around the fact that we won’t be able to sit down over a coffee again, laugh about the foibles of parenting and life in general — you as usual infusing everything with your gentle humor, whimsy and wit, with your capacity to discern the outlines of everything.
Your humility, your generosity, and your humanity… almost seemed too profound and too delicate for this age.
Maybe just one small example will suffice to demonstrate how deep and selfless your generosity was. Perhaps six or seven years ago, you were planning to spend a week by the seaside in Croatia with your family, and you kindly offered us the use of your Debrecen flat while you were gone. We spent the time walking around Debrecen, and not doing much of anything, actually, but it was a memorable week for us. Later on, a gift from you arrived in our mailbox. It was a copy of the first edition, published in 1917, of Emlék
) by Ernő Szép. The work of this poet had come up particularly in our e-mail discussions while I was translating Berlin-Hamlet
, as the “Tiergarten” series draws so much upon Szép’s work, in particular the poem “Solitary Midnight Wanderings”. While perusing your bookshelf, I had been drawn to this volume, and just because I had placed it back at a somewhat different angle, you knew that I had been looking at it. Hence, shortly after that, it was this book that turned up in my mailbox. But this is only one tiny example of your humility, your generosity, and your humanity, which almost seemed too profound and too delicate for this age.
I think we are all wondering how we are to go on without you, my dear Szilárd. For we must. The question of how remains.