István Eörsi, b. 1931

Born in Budapest, István Eörsi’s father was a lawyer. He became a believer in radical social transformation and Marxist philosophy while still at school, but he did not join the communist party. After graduating from the Hungarian Faculty of the Loránd Eötvös University in Budapest, Eörsi spent a year as a secondary-school teacher. His first book appeared in 1953. In 1954, he became an editor of the literary supplement to the newspaper Szabad Ifjúság (Free Youth), but lost the job a year later over objections to a verse he had written. In 1956, he became editor of the journal Egyetemi Lapok (University Pages) and was appointed to a research position under the Marxist philosopher György (Georg) Lukács. During the 1956 Revolution, Eörsi worked for Free Kossuth Radio, writing poetry and reports, also for the newspaper Igazság (Justice). He was involved in clandestine resistance to the Soviet occupation and the Kádár government. He was an editor of Élünk (We Are Alive), as well as helping to duplicate leaflets and to organize the women’s demonstration of December 4, 1956. He was also charged by the Revolutionary Council of the Writers’ Union with liaising with the KMT. On December 9, 1956, Eörsi and his associates was arrested and he was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment, which on September 23, 1957, was raised by the Supreme Court to eight years. In the event, he was freed in the 1960 amnesty. He was completely banned from publication until 1962 and lived by occasional translation work. In 1965, he began to work on contract for the weekly Élet és Irodalom (Life and Literature) and the first book since his release appeared in 1968. From 1977 to 1982, he worked as a writer with the Gergely Csiky Theatre in Kaposvár. He was an active member of the democratic opposition from its early days, belonging to the inner circle of the samizdat Beszélő (Informant). Eörsi lost his job after signing a protest letter of solidarity with the Charta 77 movement. In 1983, he moved to Berlin for three years, during which two of his plays were performed in West Germany. He returned to his writing job in Kaposvár in 1989. He is a founder member and National Council member of the liberal Alliance of Free Democrats (SZDSZ). He has been a member of Parliament since 1990.

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This page was created: Wednesday, 23-Aug-2000
Last updated: Wednes, 12-Sept-2001
Copyright © 2000 The Institute for the History of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution

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