We age slowly.
First our pleasure in life and other people declines, everything gradually becomes so real, we understand the significance of everything, everything repeats itself in a kind of troubling boredom.
It’s the function of age. We know a glass is only a glass.
A man, poor creature, is only mortal, no matter what he does.
Then our bodies age: not all at once. First it is the eyes, or the legs, or the heart. We age by installments.
And then suddenly our spirits begin to age: the body may have grown old, but our souls still yearn and remember and search and celebrate and long for joy.
And when the longing for joy disappears, all that are left are memories or vanity, and then, finally, we are truly old.
One day we wake up and rub our eyes and do not know why we have woken…
Nothing surprising can ever happen again… there’s nothing we want anymore, either good or bad… That is old age.
There’s still some spark inside us, a memory, a goal, someone we would like to see again, something we would like to say or learn, and we know the time will come, but then suddenly it is no longer important to learn the truth and answer to it as we had assumed in all the decades of waiting.
Gradually we understand the world and then we die.
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 Like other memoirs by Hungarian writers and statesmen, it was first published in the West, because it could not be published in the Hungary of the post-1956 Kádár era.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.