Des is not a man who sees an Augean stable and wanders off whistling; he has decided to take on “Serious Writers who have succumbed to the urge to Hold Opinions about languages,” and his first installment, in which he whacks Mihály Komis about the head and shoulders for suggesting that Hungarians should learn German rather than English, is now available for your delectation.


  1. Mihály Komis, mates with the recent Nobel Literature Laureate Imré Kertész,
    I’ve just GOT to stop bringing American sensibilities to that kind of phrasing.
    Imré Kertész had as much reason to turn against the German language and culture as anyone, of course
    That is putting it excruciatingly mildly and politely.
    (In this space was a funny rant about the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Dual Alliance in 1879, German-speaking Hungarians and my Hungarian ancestry, but upon admiringly rereading it I discovered it was based on a total misapprehension of something Mihály Komis actually said, so it’s dead now and buried in the backyard.)

  2. “Ich spreche gern deutsch,” artlessly declared Mór Russzély to appalled silence. Count Andrássy looked at him from his great height and began speaking, at first in that low voice his intimates so dreaded, then rising to what would have amounted to a bellow in a less controlled man. “After the struggle over Eastern Rumelia, the revocation of the plebiscite in northern Schleswig, the ban on imports of Russian cattle, after the Tsar has threatened to box the Kaiser’s ear, after Bismarck—Bismarck!—has threatened to resign, and he and I have only barely managed to achieve the Zweibund (and I fear I shall not be allowed the time to implement it)… after all that, you can say only that you ‘enjoy speaking German’? I shall have you sent to the Sanjak of Novi Pazar.”
    Russzély looked startled for a moment. Then he hitched up his frock coat, placed himself at the head of a chorus line of quite nubile young women who happened to be on hand, and sang:
    Nobody knows-where, it is-on-the-map,
    Who’d ever think it, could start such a flap?
    Each Montenegran, and Serbian too,
    Waitin’ for some-thing, right outa the blue—oh honey
    Pack up my Glad-stone, ‘n’ brush off my suit,
    And then light me up my bigfat, cigar—
    If ya want my address, it’s
    That O-ri-ent Express,
    To the san-jak of No-vi Pa-zar!

    Exit, doing a snappy two-step.

  3. I miss Des saying “the Engleesh”.

  4. I had (of course) forgotten all about this fifteen-year-old thread, and enjoyed rereading my own pastiche and Pynchon’s immortal lyrics.

  5. And I’m impressed that ancient entry I linked to is still accessible. Score one for diaryland!

Speak Your Mind