Édes Anna by Dezső Kosztolányi
Anna Edes is a dark and deeply moving naturalistic novel, a classic work of twentieth-century Hungarian literature. A skillful portrayal of the cruelty and emptiness of bourgeois life, it was first published in 1926 and enthusiastically received by the intellectual coffee-house society through which it circulated. The novel was later acknowledged by authors such as Thomas Mann as a model of language and form, and in turn established Dezso Kosztolanyi as one of the most significant writers of Eastern European fiction. Anna is the hard-working and long-suffering heroine, the unhappy maid destroyed by her pitiless employers. Her tragic relationship with them is played out against the political turbulence in Budapest following the First World War. Yet her endurance and revenge are depicted with keen psychological as well as historical insight, becoming, in the words of the translator, "not merely an argument about social conditions but raised to genuine tragedy."