Frigyes Karinthy: the Hungarian Swift & his musical robots

This is my latest podcast, recorded in Buffalo, New York, May 7, 2016:

5/7/16 Frigyes Karinthy: the Hungarian Swift & his musical robots

Frigyes Karinthy (1887-1938), known in our English-speaking world as the creator of the concept of "six degrees of separation" in 1929, was one of the great innovative geniuses of modern Hungarian literature, as a translator and original writer of literary parodies, poems, plays, stories, novels, and essays with a satirical bent and a penchant for fantasy. Out of over 20 volumes of original works in Hungarian only a small fraction have been published in English and/or Esperanto translation. (Karinthy himself was an Esperantist.) This year marks the centennial of Karinthy's 1916 utopian novella "Voyage to Faremido," in which Jonathan Swift's Gulliver undergoes his fifth fantastic voyage, this time to a realm of intelligent robots that speak or sing a language based on musical notes and from their vantage point of greater perfection present a counter-narrative of humanity's flawed evolution. I review Karinthy's life, work, ideas, and influence, with emphasis on "Voyage to Faremido" and its evident influence on Sándor Szathmári's "Voyage to Kazohinia."

To listen (56:55) click here; to download right-click here.

Postscript: I also mention Hungarian-Canadian poet and multimedia artist Robert Zend, who referred to Karinthy as his "spiritual father"--as did Szathmári. Also, I contrast Karinthy's approach to philosophy and literature with the views of Hungarian Marxist philosopher György Lukács, who never mentioned Karinthy as far as I can determine. I end with quotes from Karinthy's published "Letter to H. G. Wells" (July 1925) and from Mihály Babits on Karinthy's greatness.

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