Penguin Modern Classics has recently reissued “My Happy Days in Hell,” an autobiographical novel by Hungarian Jewish writer György Faludy, to mark the centenary of the author’s birth on September 22.
First published in 1962, “My Happy Days in Hell” is an essential document of the 20th century by a writer whose stature is comparable to poets such as W.H. Auden, Federico García Lorca, Rainer Maria Rilke and William Butler Yeats.
Born in Budapest, Faludy traveled to Paris in 1938, and then to the United States, where he served in the American Armed Forces while more than half a million other Hungarian Jews were murdered in the Holocaust. In his poem, “Refugee, 1940,” Faludy proffered a prophetic response to the cynical treatment meted out by the French to Jewish refugees during the early years of the war (translations are my own):