Deep inside you was a frantic longing to be something or someone other than you are.

It is the greatest scourge a man can suffer, and the most painful.

Life becomes bearable only when one has come to terms with who one is, both in one’s own eyes and in the eyes of the world.

We all of us must come to terms with what and who we are, and recognize that this wisdom is not going to earn us any praise, that life is not gong to pin a medal on us for recognizing and enduring our own vanity or egoism or baldness or our pot-belly.

No, the secret is that there’s no reward and we have to endure our characters and our natures as best we can, because no amount of experience or insight is going to rectify our deficiencies, our self-regard, or our cupidity.

We have to learn that our desires do not find any real echo in the world.

We have to accept that the people we love do not love us, or not in the way we hope.

We have to accept betrayal and disloyalty, and hardest of all, that someone is finer than we are in character or intelligence.


Sándor Márai /11 April 1900 – 21 February 1989/ was a Hungarian writer and journalist.

Marai authored 46 books. His 1942 book Embers (original title „The Candles Burn Down to the Stump“) expresses a nostalgia for the bygone multi-ethnic, multicultural society of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, reminiscent of the works of Joseph Roth. In 2006 an adaptation of this novel for the stage, written by Christopher Hampton, was performed in London.

He also disliked the communist regime that seized power after World War II, and left – or was driven away – in 1948.

After living for some time in Italy, Márai settled in the city of San Diego, in the United States. He joined with Radio Free Europe between 1951-1968. 

Márai continued to write in his native language, but was not published in English until the mid-1990s. Like other memoirs by Hungarian writers and statesmen, it was first published in the West, because it could not be published in the Hungary of the post-1956 Kádár era.

The English version of the memoir was published posthumously in 1996. After his wife died in 1986, Márai retreated more and more into isolation. In 1987, he lived with advanced cancer and his depression worsened when he lost his adopted son, John.

He ended his life with a gunshot to his head in San Diego in 1989. He left behind three granddaughters; Lisa, Sarah and Jennifer Márai.

Largely forgotten outside of Hungary, his work (consisting of poems, novels, and diaries) has only been recently „rediscovered“ and republished in French (starting in 1992), Polish, Catalan, Italian, English, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Bulgarian, Czech, Slovak, Danish, Icelandic, Korean, Dutch, Urdu and other languages too, and is now considered to be part of the European Twentieth Century literary canon.