Katalin Molnár
(Hungary, 1951)   

In 1999 Katalin Molnár published her novel Lamour Dieu under the name of Kité Moi, introducing herself as follows: ‘Kité Moi was born in the year zero at Annapest (capital city of Molnaria); she lives and works in the Paradisian region (Trance) since 28 and in Paradise proper (capital of Trance) since 45’. The novel is made up entirely of alienating transpositions of ‘true facts’, in particular ‘trivia’. This alienating treatment of language and reality characterizes the entire oeuvre of Katalin (say Kati) Molnár, born in Budapest, Hungary on February 3, 1951.

Molnár’s relationship with language was marked by uncertainty from the very start. Her mother, of Austrian descent, spoke a ‘hesitant Hungarian riddled with false accents, somewhat like a foreigner’. Her father, from a working class background, ‘committed language errors deemed inadmissible in educated circles’. Both, moreover, were card-carrying Communists who hid any doubts they might have felt behind cut-and-dried phrases drummed into their heads as part of their ideological training. In spite of her linguistic waverings, Molnár became a teacher of French. ‘But what kind of a teacher!’ says Molnár. ‘A teacher who at no time during her studies had had any contact with the people speaking this language.’

Her uncertainty as to what is correct and incorrect in speech and writing causes Molnár to question incessantly the ‘rules’ of language. When, in 1979, she went to live in a Paris suburb, she found that the French spoken there bore little resemblance to the French she had learned from Molière and Racine.
The tension between the over-coded language of the Académie Française and the hotchpotch of dialects spoken in the working class districts of Paris is the basis of Molnár’s literary work. In the magazine Poézi Prolétèr, which she and Christophe Tarkos inspired, she coupled observations on ‘vulgar French’ with a proposal for a transcription of the spoken language. She later elaborated this in Konférans pour lé zilétré (Lecture for the illiterate).

Katalin Molnár published several volumes of poetry in Hungarian before making her debut in French with poèmesIncorrects et mauvaisChants chantsTranscrits (incorrectPoems and bad Songs transcribedSongs). Besides numerous contributions to magazines, she published the dazzlingly creative book Kantaje (Aboutme) and the novel Lamour Dieu (Thelove God).

[Katalin Molnár took part in the Poetry International Festival Rotterdam 2003. This text was written on that occasion.]

© Jan H. Mysjkin (Translated by Ko Kooman)

Publications (selection):
poèmesIncorrects et mauvaisChants chantsTranscrits
Kantaje (1996)
Konférans pour lé zilétré (1999)
Lamour Dieu (1999)


Subscribe to the newsletter

follow us on facebook follow us on twitter Follow us (international)  

follow us on facebook follow us on twitter Follow us (Dutch)