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Alondra

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  1,505 Ratings  ·  162 Reviews
Septiembre de 1899. En una pequeña ciudad de provincias del Imperio austrohúngaro, Alondra, la hija de los Vajkay, se dispone a pasar una semana de vacaciones con sus tíos. Durante esos días coincidirán la alegría de vivir con la ausencia de esa hija solterona y poco agraciada, cuya presencia da sentido y a la vez condiciona la existencia de los Vajkay.
Paperback, 205 pages
Published October 1st 2010 by Ediciones B (first published 1924)
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dnl The cover and the metadata correspond to the Spanish translation from Hungarian.
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David
Sep 07, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow. The last fifty pages or so of Skylark are pretty damn brutal. You know how there are a whole bunch of really ugly truths about life that we generally just brush off or lie to ourselves about? This book confronts some of them head-on. And the honesty is actually a little harrowing at times. Here's my own real-life point-of-comparison: when I was a teenager and worked at a movie theater this one guy used to come in a lot (always alone) to see movies. Not so unusual, right? Well, the reason I ...more
S.
Jan 12, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
To be completely superficial let me start by saying that for a book concerning ugliness, this has a beautiful cover. The colors are gorgeous and fine -dark ochre and robin's egg blue- and the sans serif type and Hungarian accents top it off like fragile bones.

But looks aren't everything. I was also bowled over by the story, which is both heartbreaking and very funny. It's set in a distinctive time and place, but what's portrayed is accessible to anyone.

Before going into it, it’s important to kn
...more
Tony
Feb 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Disappointment is a long word that means a small thing. The character is not SHOCKED, not DEVASTATED. No, he is just...oh...disappointed. Like a Christmas wish not rendered, a fraction of a lower school grade, the wrong team (again) wins the Super Bowl. But when it is someone's life, someone's very existence that disappoints, then that small thing crushes.

The set-up of Skylark is fairly well smathered in the book description and elsewhere that I won't be plot-spoiling to tell you that the epony
...more
Paul Bryant
Sep 09, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
Well, some things remain truths universally acknowledged. Certainly this has been and still is held to be true here in Nottingham, England :

He had much to report... who had been drinking wine, or champagne, or schnapps, and how much of each had been consumed by whom; and finally who had been sick and how many times. For in Sarszeg this served as the surest measure of a good time. Those who were sick twice had had a better time than those who were only sick once. Yesterday some had even been sick
...more
Declan
Aug 31, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: eastern-europe, nyrb
The three main characters in this superb novel - a mother, father and daughter - have, somehow, expunged all joy from their lives and I believe that all the three of them are, in different ways, complicit in their mutual suffocation. To - as they see it - protect Skylark her parents have allowed a series of habits to come into being which they are forced into maintaining and repeating because to change would be to betray their daughter. It appears to suit Skylark to cling to this way of living b ...more
Diane S ☔
Jul 28, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Vajkays, mother, father and their grown daughter Skylark live in Sarszek, Hungary in the yaw 1899. The parent are in thrall with their beloved daughter despite the fact that she is homely, on the shelf, and controlling. Their days are ruled by a dreary routine, the only things to look forward to are the different days of washing, dusting, cleaning etc. Then Skylark unexpectedly leaves for a week, invited to visit relatives in another town. At first the parents are lost without the imposed ro ...more
Daniel
Sep 09, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some writers capture an instance of human endeavor--be it play, work, strife, exploration, love--in prose that conveys this experience with a singular fidelity. Here is Akos Vajkay, carousing with friends on a late night:

"Akos suddenly picked up the tumbler full of schnapps they had set before him and downed it in one. The alcohol warmed its way through his body and lifted him to his feet. There was an enormous knocking in his old brain and he felt such delight that he really wouldn't have minde
...more
[P]
May 21, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’ve written about Tom before. He is, you might say, one of my recurring, minor characters. I use him, not without a seasoning of guilt, when required, which is to say when the focus of the review is on those who feel small, ill-at-ease, and unappealing. In any case, I don’t have to worry about him reading this, because these days he only exists within me, caught in the sticky web of my memories. Tom always considered himself ugly, and it is true that he was no peach. A mess of curly hair, as th ...more
Eldonfoil TH*E Whatever Champion
This is Central/Eastern European literature at its finest. Beyond being a lovely mirror of the inhabitants from a particular time and place, this Skylark, cloaked in a provincial Hapsburg Empire town at the turn of the century, is a multi-layered parable on Ugliness. Upon the story’s surface rests the straightforward beauty, softness, and problems of daily life, but beneath it the wormy soil is crawling and Kosztolanyi asks what is Joy, what is Beauty, what is Life? We see all the usual routes a ...more
Jimmy
Skylark is a woman in her mid-30's, an "old maid", living with her mother and father. They've fallen into such a groove that they have become pathetically dependent on each other. Skylark is also butt ugly, which has given her family much shame in not being able to marry her off. They still save up for her dowry, but try not to harbor any hope for her marrying off, as they have been disappointed many times before.

In the beginning of the book, Skylark leaves for a week to go visit a relative. We
...more
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Dezső Kosztolányi was a famous Hungarian poet and prose-writer.

Kosztolányi was born in Szabadka (Subotica) in 1885, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, but which now lies in northern Serbia. The city serves as a model for the fictional town of Sárszeg, in which he set his novella Skylark as well as The Golden Kite. Kosztolányi studied at the University of Budapest, where he met the poets Mih
...more
More about Dezső Kosztolányi...
“When people go away they vanish, turn to nothing, stop being. They live only in memories, haunting the imagination.” 17 likes
“He was no lover in a worldly sense; the only love he knew was that of divine understanding, of taking a whole life into its depths as if they were his own. From this, the greatest pain, the greatest happiness is born: the hope that we too will one day be understood, strangers will accept our words, our lives, as if they were their own.” 10 likes
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