The Hunting Rug
The son of a general in the pre-war Hungarian army, Ádám Topporczy had enjoyed a golden youth. Family estates, Transylvanian maids, a free-and-easy life among the chattering classes of Budapest, an affair with a famous actress, a career pursued without trying too hard to catch up – but all come to an end as war approaches. The general resigns in patriotic protest at the links with Nazi Germany, the family shelters a Jewish couple during the German occupation, but is not troubled by the Arrow-Cross. When the communists come to power, however, there is no escape from relocation; the villa in Buda is lost as is much of value, and there follow years of survival in primitive rural conditions. Returning to Budapest, Ádám finds the eponymous Hunting Rug in their old house; a gift from Jewish neighbours as they vanished in 1944, it becomes central to the narrative, acquiring a life of its own. The rug is eminently conducive to making love, and all those facets of modern Hungarian history are skilfully presented – sometimes illustrated by extracts from official documents – and the immense intrinsic value of the rug revealed in flashbacks as Ádám engages in amorous dalliance with his new girlfriend. The book – written not long before the 1989 change of regime – ends with a prophetic ironic twist.
Gábor Görgey (1929), Hungarian playwright, poet and novelist, has published five collections of poetry, six novels, five collections of essays and some two dozen plays. His best known play
Komámasszony, hol a stukker? – translated into English as Jumping the Gun – has had more than 50 performances all over the world. The Hunting Rug (1988) is his first novel to be translated into English.
Born in 1937 in the English West Midlands, Bernard Adams was educated at King Edward’s School, Birmingham, and at Pembroke College, Cambridge. In 1991 he retired from teaching to concentrate on translating Hungarian literature, and lives in Zánka, Hungary.
Gábor Görgey is a crystal that stands out in the utterly multicoloured kaleidoscope of Hungarian literature. Among idiosyncratic style-artists, breakers of moulds and formal innovators he remains a narrator who – in the words of Camus – creates his own universe. Anyone that enters that universe is surrounded by a sparkling blueness and a sweet, languorous perfume, such as rises when we leaf through old photograph albums.