Great Figures of Hungarian Literature:
100th anniversary of the birth of István Örkény
István Örkény (April 5, 1912, Budapest -- June 24, 1979, Budapest) was an award winning author, a pharmacist and the creator of world-class Hungarian prose in the genre of the grotesque. Hardly any other Hungarian writer has received as much critical acclaim for his work, which has been continually published, and is still frequently performed. The constant quotations from his “one-minute" stories and thoughts show that his literary work is still very much part of modern Hungarian life.
In recognition of the centennial of his birth, as part of the series on Hungarian literature, the Magyar Nemzeti Bank (National Bank of Hungary) is issuing a silver commemorative coin. On the front, designer Vilmos Király lists Örkény’s works, placing the initials of the writer in the center. A portrait of Örkény is on the back.
Örkény was born into a well-off family of pharmacists. He studied chemistry at the Technical University before switching to pharmacological school, from which he graduated in 1934. With some friends, he founded and edited the periodical Keresztmetszet, which also featured his first novella. In 1937 he met Attila József and later travelled to London and Paris, where he lived doing odd jobs. He returned to Budapest when World War II broke out, re-enrolling at the Technical University and earning a degree in chemistry in 1941.
He was sent to the Russian front in a forced-labor unit in 1942, was captured in 1943 and returned to Hungary in 1946. He abandoned pharmacology and devoted his life to literature and theatre. He was the theatrical adviser at the Youth Theatre from 1949 and at the People’s Army Theatre from 1951. After that, he was an editor for the publishing house Szépirodalmi Könyvkiadó in 1954. During the 1956 revolution he was a member of the executive council of the Hungarian Writers’ Association. From 1958 to 1962 he was banned from publishing due to his activities in 1956. To earn a living, he worked at a drug factory writing patient information leaflets.
His literary career took off in the late 1960s when he wrote his most well-known works, including the “one-minute" stories which created an entire genre, and his philosophical satires of social life. He also wrote then some of his most important stage works such as The Toth Family, A Mirror to the Cage, and Catsplay. Most of his works were performed on stage and movies were made from many. During this period, many works were translated and his plays were performed around the world.
He won the Attila József Literature Award in 1955 and 1967, the Black Humour Award in Paris in 1969, and the Kossuth Award in 1973.
Face Value 5,000 forint.
Metal .925 silver
Weight 31.46 g
Diam. 38.61 mm