George Szirtes is a leading figure in contemporary poetry in England and in Hungary, the country of his birth. His poems explore – in a wide variety of complex, skilfully handled forms – his origins, his life, and his critical engagements with works by other poets and artists. They offer powerful and moving meditations on the roles and functions of the poet in the modern world.
Reading George Szirtes offers the first sustained analysis of Szirtes’ work, mapping his development chronologically and thematically, and paying close attention to form and technique in its analysis of each poem.
Haunted by his family’s knowledge and experience of war, occupation and the Holocaust, as well as by loss, danger and exile, all of Szirtes’ poetry covers universal themes: love, desire and illusion; loyalty and betrayal; history, art and memory; humanity and truth. Throughout his work there is a conflict between two states of mind, the possibility of happiness and apprehension of disaster. These are played out especially in his celebrated long poems and extended sequences, The Photographer in Winter, Metro, The Courtyards, An English Apocalypse and Reel. John Sears offers detailed and lucid readings of these and other key poems – including Szirtes’ most recent poetry – relating them to historical events and to work by other poets.
Reading George Szirtes is a critical companion volume to George Szirtes’ New & Collected Poems. Both books were published on the occasion of Szirtes’s 60th birthday.