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"I found only some firewalls of my home standing. During the siege, it took three bomb hits and more than thirty grenades. I somehow climbed up to the second floor on the rubbish pile that rose from the rubble, the remains of the stairs and the furniture fragments where the staircase once stood, and I caught sight of my top hat and a French porcelain candlestick on the top of the mushy pile of ruins that was once my home. Photographs were strewn about in the rubbish, including the one which long time ago, before the siege, hung above my writing desk and depicted Tolstoy standing with Gorky in the garden at Yasnaya Polyana. I put this photograph in my pocket and looked around to see what else I could take as a keepsake. I made my way through the obstacles to the room where my books had lined the shelves. I would like to have found the bilingual Marcus Aurelius, then Eckermann's Conversations and an old Hungarian edition of the Bible. But it was difficult to get my bearings in the chaos. The blast had, like some paper mill, ground the books into a pulp. Still, one book with an undamaged title page lay on the rubbish pile right next to my top hat. I picked it up and read the title: "On the care of a Middle-Class Dog," this was its title. I stuck the book in my pocket and cautiously climbed down from the rubbish pile to the ground floor. At this moment - I later thought about this a lot - I felt a strange sense of relief."
(From Memoir of Hungary, translated by Albert Tezla)

"I once dreamt I was standing on a platform in a hall packed with people. I was dressed in a frock coat and held a top hat and a magic wand in my hand. I asked the esteemed audience for its kind attention, raised the magic wand, and with a single stroke chopped off my head, put it into the top hat, and then, serenely, with easy movements, I scratched the inside of the top hat with the magic wand, pulled out my head and put it back on my neck. I said: "Voilá!", I bowed and applause exploded. This was the dream." (From Memoir of Hungary)

Márai's exemplar was the individual who adhered faithfully to the cultural obligations imposed by a purposeful life, whose ethical values are created by personal discipline and whose "first principle
is the fulfillment of duty," a being that shapes his life by creative work in which, Márai proclaimed, "the highest degree of pleasure bursts into flame" and who, despite all evidence to the contrary,
continues to be enticed by the vision of human perfectibility. (Albert Tezla)



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