Miklós Radnóti

Miklós Radnóti was born in 1909 into a Jewish family in Budapest. After graduating from Szeged University he was prevented by his ethnic background from obtaining a teaching post and was obliged to support himself as a private tutor and translator. His translations include the poems of the Roman poet Virgil which were to have an important influence on his own later work. While a student he had joined a group of left-wing intellectuals and the friendships he formed here played an significant role in the shaping of his socio-political outlook. Another decisive event during this early period was his marriage to his wife, Fanni, to whom some of his greatest poems were to be addressed.

In the early forties, having come under the influence of leading Catholic intellectuals, Radnóti formally converted to that religion. He was by this time beginning to be recognized as one of the most significant young Hungarian poets. Nonetheless, he was compelled after the outbreak of the Second World War to serve several terms of forced labour. It was during the last of these, on a forced march from Yugoslavia, that he was executed in 1944.

– from Stephen Capus’ introduction in MPT 3/13 Transplants