Frigyes Karinthy Biography

Frigyes Karinthy (25 June 1887 in Budapest – 29 August 1938 in Siófok) was a Hungarian author, playwright, poet, journalist, and translator. He was the first proponent of the six degrees of separation concept, in his 1929 short story, Chains (Láncszemek). Karinthy remains one of the most popular Hungarian writers. He was the father of poet Gábor Karinthy and writer Ferenc Karinthy.

Among the English translations of Karinthy's works are two novellas that continue the adventures of Swift's character Gulliver. Voyage to Faremido is an early examination of artificial intelligence, while Capillaria is a polished and darkly humorous satire on the 'battle of the sexes'.

Karinthy was born into a bourgeois family in Budapest. He started his writing career as a journalist and remained a writer of short, humorous blurbs until his death. He rose to instant fame in 1912 with the publication of his literary parodies called That's How YOU Write (Így írtok ti). He expanded the collection continuously during the following years. Among his early works, his collection of short stories from school life, Please Sir! (Tanár úr, kérem)[1] also stands out for its grasp of the trials and tribulations of the average schoolboy. Another popular highlight is his translation of A. A. Milne's Winnie the Pooh, that made it a cult book in Hungary.

After the First World War, his writing became more serious and engaged, though never leaving a satirical bent. Karinthy cited Jonathan Swift as a major influence: from this arose the novel Voyage to Faremido (Utazás Faremidóba) and its sequel, Capillaria. Many of his novels and stories also deal with the difficulties of relationships between men and women, partly due to his unhappy second marriage.

Karinthy had a brain tumor for which he was operated upon in Stockholm in 1936. He describes this experience in his autobiographical novel, Journey Round my Skull, (Utazás a koponyám körül), originally published in 1939; a reissue appeared as a NYRB Classic in 2008. He died two years later, during a holiday at Lake Balaton.

Popular Poems