Movie & Lecture: The Smell of Humans

12th September 2023 at 18:00 CET


Picture: Emberszag_DSC_3085_JardekSzabina

An award-winning film adaptation (2022) of the Hungarian writer Ernő Szép’s Holocaust memoir, with a brief introduction by Katalin Szlukovényi.

About the movie:
A dramatized film adaptation of Ernő Szép’s novel of the same title
In Hungarian, with English subtitles 12+

The profound depths of Hungarian writer Ernő Szép’s life and poetry are revived in Győző Ferencz’s new film adaptation of the poet’s novel, The Smell of Humans.
This stoic and lyrical narrative of twenty fateful days offers a historically and artistically authentic account of an inhuman era.In the autumn of 1944 the 60-year-old Ernő Szép, along with other Jewish men, was called up for forced labor. By then he had been evicted from the hotel on Margit Island, Budapest that had been his home for 33 years, and was interned in a building marked by the yellow star on Pozsonyi Street. Eventually he was released after three weeks, thanks to a protective pass from the Swedish Embassy, after he had a first-hand experience of Nazi inhumanity.His memoir, The Smell of Humans, is a diary-like account of the long marches, nights spent at sports stadiums and brick-yards, the atrocities and cold-blooded murders committed by Hungarian Arrow Cross guards, the methodical acts of terror that robbed Jews of all human dignity and made their tormentors shed their humanity. Yet Ernő Szép’s voice, here as in his other works, remains graceful and spontaneous, steeped in empathy as he recounts his tribulations while maintaining an ironic distance. The sentences of The Smell of Humans emanate the same aura of humanity confronting tragedy that makes his poems so moving. In this dramatization based on his memoir the included poems and chansons from Ernő Szép’s oeuvre add a note of lyrical counterpoint.

More about the movie here:

About the speaker:
Katalin Szlukovényi is a senior lecturer at the Department of English Studies of Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE), Budapest. She graduated at ELTE as an English (2002) and a Hungarian major (2003) and received her PhD also from ELTE, completing the Modern English and American Literature and Culture Doctoral Programme in 2014. The Hungarian book version (Kétkedők: Irónia, önirónia és humor a huszadik századi zsidó amerikai prózában) of her dissertation in English (Irony, Self-irony, and Humor in 20th Century Jewish American Literature) was published in 2018.
Currently, she is working on her habilitation. The subject of her research is the contemporary English poet George Szirtes (1948), who extensively reflects on his family’s Hungarian Jewish heritage. Besides her regular courses on English literature, she also teaches a seminar on Hungarian culture in English both at the Budapest Summer University and for Erasmus students of ELTE. Apart from her academic career, Szlukovényi works as a poet, editor, and translator, specializing in poetry and children’s literature.
For her poetry, she received numerous awards (Gérecz Attila Award for the best first book of poetry under the age of 30, 2005; Award of Excellence in Poetry by the literary magazine Mozgó Világ, 2010; Radnóti Award for Poetry, 2014; Déry Tibor Award in Literature, 2015). Her latest collection of poems is Álomkonyha (2020). At present, she is collaborating with George Szirtes on a bilingual (English–Hungarian) poetry book called Postcards from Europe, which investigates the possibilities and challenges of a European point of view from two peripheries of the continent.

The event is organized by Paideia – The European Institute for Jewish Studies, Paideia folkhögskola & Jewish Community in Stockholm. Supported by Kulturådet.

Registration by September 7.