Embers Background

Embers Background

Sandor Marai was a Hungarian novelist and journalist best known for his 1942 work Embers. He was born to a noble family in what is now Kosice, Slovakia in 1900. As a young child, Marai's family traveled extensively and he was exposed to various European cultures. Through these travels, Marai learnt the German language; however, he elected to write in his native Hungarian. After studying Literature at Péter Pázmány University in Budapest, Marai moved to Germany in 1919. In 1923 he moved again, this time to Paris. During this time he began to write prolifically and his notoriety grew in Eastern Europe.

Marai returned to Hungary with his family, where he was regarded as amongst the most prominent voices. As the turbulence of World War II arose, Marai used his position to voice strongly anti-Fascist sentiments. Despite these outspoken opinions, Marai was elected to the Hungarian Academy of Arts in 1943. His fate changed after the conclusion of the War. The take-over of Hungary by Soviet forces instituted a new political order in the nation, and one that clashed with Marai's political views. Fearing for his safety, he fled the country in 1948, eventually settling in the United States. He would continue to work in San Diego where he made his home for the final decades of his life. In 1989 he took his life. His legacy as one of the most important Hungarian voices of the 20th century has grown since his death, and his works are continually in the process of translation into English.

Marai wrote Embers in 1942, amidst the backdrop of World War II. The emotive and moving work tells the story of two friends reunited after several decades apart. The novel evidences Marai's stark Realist style and though the plot is sparse, the work is incredibly rich in description. The novel has since become known as a masterwork of Hungarian literature and has garnered consistent critical attention. In 2006, a play based on the novel was staged in Britain.

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