Stephen Vizinczey
Elogio delle donne mature

by Giorgio Montefoschi
Corriere della Sera
26 April, 2004

“But to speak only of my search for happiness in love: apart from the time when I was at the mercy of the teenage girls,” says Andràs at the end of the long voyage of erotic adventures which is the fulcrum of this novel, “I’ve never been so miserable with women as I was when I knew all the scores and had the prerequisites of a carefree bachelor life”. If it is possible to draw a bit of a moral from a book which is presented specifically as an “immoral book”, in that it is without any other aim or view other than the attainment of pleasure – well, then, Andràs’s final declaration seems indicative. In what sense? In the sense that at the basis of pleasure, at the basis of eroticism, he places consciousness. I love because I learn; I learn because I love. Hence, the story. In the darkest years for Hungary, culminating in the Soviet invasion and the establishment of communism, a beardless adolescent extremely interested in sex embarks on a gigantic campaign of sexual-emotional education, purely for his own benefit. Let us say that he is also a son, also a student, also a citizen, but in substance, his eyes see nothing but sex, his senses are stirred by nothing else. This precociousness is fundamental, because it imposes on Andràs the burden and at the same time the joys which derive from a difference in age: he is always the inadequate adolescent, always the follower; the women are always mature, always unattainable, always greater than he is. Love as perennial following. The catalogue of the women, more or less mature, who are conquered by Andràs is amazing, breathtaking. But it is a catalogue quite different from Don Giovanni’s. In the latter, obsession with the female is destructive, borders on the Kingdom of the Shades; in Andràs’s catalogue, everything is living ardor, inexhaustible fervour. Vizinczey has the ironic melancholy of eastern Europe, and a certain verve. He knows the psychologies of women, and of men as well. His catalogue is composed of scenes which you can visualize. And some of these scenes seems to have actually happened.