Peter Esterházy: Helping Verbs of the Heart

Published at 10 Jan 2024 | Updated at 15 Jan 2024

Péter, Esterházy

A szív segédigéi

Budapest: Magvető, 1985.


Brief presentation

Péter Esterházy’s unmistakable style, alongside his witty and subversive literary gestures made him a celebrated author to a new generation of readers in Hungary at the end of the 1970s. Written between 1980 and 1983, Helping Verbs of the Heart (A szív segédigéi) is one of the author’s early works in which formal experimentation is the raison d’être. The text first appeared in the Hungarian journal Kortárs (Contemporary) (1984), then as a booklet (1985), and finally as the concluding part of a collection Esterházy published under the title Introduction to Literature (Bevezetés a szépirodalomba) (1986). The experimental nature of the work is evident in the juxtaposition of the two parts of the text. The original booklet from 1985 consists of a sequence of 59 unpaginated, black-framed pages and a black page in between. All are framed by a foreword and a page marked “The End.”. The black page in the middle provides a visual contrast to the rest of the work and acts as a turning point. The upper section of each black-framed page contains fragments of text about the death of a mother, the death of a son, and mourning, which form a loose thematic framework. The lower section contains sentences or paragraphs that are offset from the upper section by small capital letters and can be read as comments or antidotes. The centre of the page is always empty, although this emptiness can vary in size. This division of the pages establishes a relationship between two different sets of text. The logic of linear progression is suspended and replaced by the spatial relationships of an image. The iconic character of the pages is emphasised by the black frame around the pages. Thus, although the first sentence of the foreword defines the text as a “story”, A szív segédigéi does not tell a story, but presents contradictions on the surface of the text through typographical markings and situational contrasts.



Like many Esterházy books, A szív segédigéi foregrounds an autobiographical incident and has been perceived by the public as a book about the death of Esterházy’s mother. This interpretation is complicated by Esterházy himself, though, who both evokes and undermines this interpretation.

The autobiographical reference seems to be made by the text itself, in the sense that the foreword contains a reference to death: “It’s nearly two weeks since my mother died [...]” (Esterházy 1992: x, abbreviated below as HV). This seems to establish a direct link between the death and the need to write: “and I’d better get to work before the urge I felt so violently during the funeral, the urge to write about her, turns back into the lethargic wordlessness I felt at the news of her death” (HV x). The sentence that so clearly links death and the urge to write is not Esterházy’s, however, but a quotation from Peter Handke’s A Sorrow Beyond Dreams (Wunschloses Unglück), a book about the death of Handke’s mother, only the number of weeks (seven) has been replaced here by two (Handke 1977: 243). The connection between the biographical event (the death of the mother) and the text, barely touched upon, is already called into question by the fact that it is a quotation. Subsequently, “the mixing of autobiographical material with references to other” fictional texts undermines “the assumption of autobiography” (Görözdi 2016: 65).  

Along with the naming of the occasion, however, the foreword also problematises writing itself, specifically how to write on death without writing about death and the dead. This dilemma is already sketched in the first sentence of what was to become A szív segédigéi, written in August 1980, immediately after his mother’s death, when Esterházy first puts the following sentences into the dead woman’s mouth: “Monster! Monster! I know you’re thinking about the words right now! I know! (My body hasn’t even had time to get cold! The sound of the clods in the air! And there you are! Even now!)” [In Hungarian: “‘Szörnyeteg! Szörnyeteg! Tudom jól, hogy most is a megfogalmazáson töri a fejét! Tudom!’ (Még ki se hűlt a testem! A göröngyök zaja a levegőben! És tessék! Már is!”] (AdK, Esterházy-Nachlass Vol. 18, Translated by EK).

Objectification through language is reformulated in the foreword as a poetic and linguistic question with the help of a few sentences from Sartre’s essay What is Literature? (Qu’est-ce que la literature?). As Sartre’s foreword puts it: “naming is tantamount to making a permanent sacrifice of name to [the object] named” (HV x) (cf. Sartre 1949: 12). In order to avoid this use of language, Esterházy denies in the foreword precisely those peculiarities of the committed literary man that Sartre considers to be his most important characteristics: “I don’t use language, I don’t want to discover the truth, much less present it to anyone” (HV x, cf. Sartre 1949: 12).

In order to circumvent this understanding of literature, the foreword contains the programmatic sentence: “I don’t speak, but I’m not silent: which isn’t the same” (HV XI). The paradox of not speaking and not being silent at the same time defines the space of writing as uncharted territory even if it consists of nothing but borrowed sentences. Even the formulation of this paradox is partly borrowed from Sartre’s remarks on What is Literature? where poetry is distinguished from prose by the fact that the former does not “use” words, that it does not “name” the world (Sartre 1949: 12).

A szív segédigéi does not describe the death or even the life of the mother, as Handke's A Sorrow Beyond Dreams does, but explores the possibilities of linguistic expression. These range from the description of hospital and funeral scenes to the morbid punch lines of popular culture and to the (largely inverted) formulas of Christian liturgy. They may be stylistically mutually exclusive, but in Esterházy’s text they are assembled into a triptych in the form of larger motivic and situational blocks.

At the beginning the sequence of scenes and memories developed in the upper “main section” contains loosely connected scenes, such as the last visit to the dying mother in hospital, the funeral, its preparations and aftermath, such as conversations about the dead person, as well as the description of the family’s speechlessness: “We had nothing to say to each other, nothing to say to anyone, nothing to think” (HV 13). Visually, and also in terms of textual structure, these scenes are closed off (and separated from the rest of the text) by a black page about halfway through the book (HV 46). On this page, white on black, is a paraphrase of Paul’s sentence, “If I speak with human and angelic tongues, but have not love, I am a sounding gong or a clanging cymbal” (1 Corinthians 1:13). The sentence from 1 Corinthians is here cut into a series of seemingly unrelated statements that take the metaphors of lovelessness literally and reverse the conditionality of love and speech: “I am become as [sic] sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal! I hope you all rot. I hate you” (HV 46). By transforming Paul’s sentence with its universal appeal into a particularised statement, they produce the first emotionally charged sentences of the book, which serve ex negativo as the basis for the following monologue addressed by the mother to her son.

After the black page, the situation is reversed. Here the mother mourns her dead son – a situation evoked by the Pietà – and also shares details of her life. This section ends with paragraphs which repeatedly begin with the phrase “I am writing it down:” (HV 91-95). This repeated insertion, which marks the difference between spoken language and the disciplined language mediated by writing, ends her speech, marks her sentences as quotations and inserts it into the text, which as a whole presents itself as a collection of quotations.

The final pages of the book contain scenes that seem to return to the beginning of the text, or at least to repeat its situational elements. Again, it is a (presumably final) visit to the hospital, but instead of the characters presented in the opening section (siblings, hospital staff, other sick people, etc.), a dialogue is presented between mother and son. The former is no longer referred to as “our” mother, but as “my” mother. The situation is conceivably down to earth, the son helps the helpless mother in the hospital first to eat, then to urinate, finally he crawls into bed with her and makes it dirty. Their dialogue is at the same time matter of fact: “Stand up, put your hands under my arms and lift me up. Put your arm in mine. And keep an eye on my legs. Let’s go” and mischievous: “How brave you are today” – she tells him when he forgets to pick up the scraps of food that have slipped away (HV 99f.). The linguistic peculiarity of her occasionally addressing her son formally, as well as the fact that he kisses her hand when he leaves, as if in the execution of a farewell formula (“I kiss her hands”, HV 110), lends these scenes a traditional tone that contrasts with the naturalistic description.

The mother’s body, however, which is the focus of the hospital scene both here and at the beginning, is described quite differently here. While at the beginning it is described as an object (“Mother too wheezed air in like a machine – our only indication she was alive. There was nothing for us to recognise”), in the final scenes the mother’s body becomes a place where birth, love and death intersect.

Birth, love and death  are introduced by the title of a poem by Gyula Illyés: “A pale woman in a small room” (HV 99). Illyés himself linked death and birth in his poem, based on the biographical fact that he was born on All Saints’ Day. Esterházy, for his part, literally interweaves the themes in the body of the mother: mother and son are at one point compared to a “couple of lovers” (HV 103), at another she is mistaken for a woman who is in hospital to “give birth” (HV 105). But she herself knows that she is going to die: “I am going to die” (HV 110). By switching from the past to the present tense, the text also brings the mother back to life, at least grammatically.

Taken as a whole, the form created by Esterházy’s loose fragments and quotations is reminiscent of a perverted liturgy of death. This is first suggested by the beginning and end of A szív segédigéi, which both contain a formula from the Catholic liturgy. The framed main section begins with the Introit of the Mass – which Esterházy called the “Missa Profana” in his notes (AdK, Esterházy-Nachlass, vol. 19): “In the name of the Father and of the Son” – and ends with the sentence at the bottom of the page: “THE LAST THING WE KNOW WHEN WE WRITE A WORK IS HOW IT WILL BEGIN: IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER AND THE SON – ” (HV 110).

In the text, besides literal quotations from the Mass, there are also distorted ones, such as when at the bottom of the page (instead of Gloria in excelsis deo) it says “GORY IN EXCELSIS DEO” (HV 27 in Hungarian: “Fólia in excelsis deo”). Or when the line from Agnus dei “qui tollis peccata mundi” is read in a twisted form as “CLITORIS PECCATA MUNDI” (HV 38) at the bottom of a page where the top is about the sexy appearance of a nurse in the hospital.

The use of liturgical topoi and texts is largely blasphemous. This is because most of the liturgical actions quoted are either conventionally deflated or distorted, or even possibly contradicted by the context. The reference to the dying mother at the beginning of the text acts as an inversion of the Christian ritual when the nurse says, pointing to the mother, “That’s your mother” – a gesture that quotes the elevation of the host, but without giving any further meaning to the object pointed at. The stylistic value of the demonstrative pronoun in Hungarian must be stressed here: “That” [“Ez”] can grammatically refer only to an object and not to a person. The sentence is a strange reversal of the elevation of the host, since it does not give the pointed object any meaning, but degrades it to a dead object. In the end, however, it is precisely this gesture of degradation, the mother characterised by her physical needs and infirmities, and her sick body that are invested with multiple meanings. The end of A szív segédigéi, the scenes in which dying is presented as a meaningful, personally experienced event and a series of meanings are ascribed to the sick body, is thus also emblematic of Esterházy’s art of quotation, which breathes new life into used, dead words and linguistic images.


Avant-garde strategies

Esterházy’s A szív segédigéi belongs to the experimental tradition of the neo-avant-garde, carnivalizing and unsettling the conventional connection between word and meaning through the multiplicity of cultural codes that invade it (see Dánél 2016). Central to this is his use of citation, not least because, as a basic gesture of avant-garde art, quotations inevitably call into question “the category of the original” (Scheunemann 2005: 30f.).

While quotes are conventionally used to support arguments and to invoke authority, Esterházy uses them as a subversive technique, an exercise in ambiguity and ambivalence. He himself explained quotations to Marianna D. Birnbaum as something that follows from his way of working and thinking, describing their dual function: “On the one hand, it is true that they correspond to the text [...]. On the other hand, however, they remain alien to it. As a result, the text wobbles. But this wobbling or trembling is very important. It is what the quotation brings with it, because nothing in such a quotation corresponds to the text, whether it corresponds or not, it does not correspond. The directions that are present in the quotation, freed from the environment, only work half and half – these directions are not the same as those that are effective in the text. This creates a tension” (Esterházy and Birnbaum 1991: 8, translated by EK). The striking stylistic differences create tension in the text. Among other things, the stylistic breaks play words and sentences off against each other and highlight their differences. At the same time, however, a dynamic is introduced into the text that is not due to the structures of linear narration, but instead results from the choice of words and quotations. The question of whether the reader needs to know the original is denied by Esterházy, but the perception of citation is declared to be a fundamental stylistic challenge of his text.

When, at the end of A szív segédigéi, Esterházy recounts in the present tense how his seriously ill mother was unable to pass urine when he helped her use the toilet in hospital due to a sense of shame, the following is written at the bottom of the page (marked as a quotation): “SHE TOOK HER SECRET TO THE GRAVE” (HV 108). This quotation from Handke’s A Sorrow Beyond Dreams (Handke 1977: 297), which refers there to the “why” of his mother’s suicide, here takes on an entirely physical meaning through the reference to the scene recounted at the top of the page: she could not fully release herself in the presence of her son. Even if we do not know the origin of the quotation, its stylistic inappropriateness is abundantly clear, presenting different perspectives on death and dying. These are not specifically contextualised in the text, but have a disturbing effect precisely because of their unmotivated, quote-like nature.

The stylistic provocation and the sheer number of such quotations shift the focus from the mimetic function of language to the question of how language produces meaning. At the same time, they also pervert the conventional understanding of the relationship between author and work. For the author, who in the last version of the foreword lists 44 authors whom he quotes in his 60-page text (Esterházy 2016), no longer appears as a creator but as one who assembles and constructs the work from ready-made materials. It is part of Esterházy’s joke that he himself is one of the 44 authors he quotes, and that at the same time, with this text as with others, he constructs his own public persona. This public figure emerges in the act of quoting, in the (re)appropriation of other people’s texts and his own as a non-author-author.  He presents himself as someone who is entitled to the role of author not by creating the new, but by giving the old a new perspective.

There are two texts in particular in Esterházy’s Introduction to Literature that bring this artistic gesture to the point. Firstly, Esterházy copied the novel School at the Frontier (Iskola a határon) by Géza Ottlik, the master of Hungarian prose whom he so admired, onto a single sheet of paper, thus turning the novel into an illegible palimpsest, a kind of text-image or, alternatively, an object that is neither text nor image (Esterházy 1986: 11). Secondly, he has literally reproduced a story about a Count Esterházy from Danilo Kiš’s Encyclopaedia of the Dead (Enciklopedija mrtvih) (Esterházy 1986: 642-645), because, as he explained in a later text, “in my own selfish way, I would say that this short story, To Die for One’s Country Is Glorious, is mine, my writing, even though he wrote it. And it is fortunate that he wrote it, because I would have spoilt it, because I could not have handled the word ‘Esterházy’ in the text with the simplicity required here” (Esterházy 2003: 24 translated by EK, For details see Bojtár 2005).

In contrast to these gestures of appropriation and this spectacular questioning of the institution of authorship, A szív segédigéi (as in other Esterházy texts) is rather a collection of quotations whose stylistic values are played off against each other in such a way that instead of the meaning, the manner of meaning, instead of the unity of the text guaranteed by the subjectivity of the author, its manufactured and constructed nature and the heterogeneity of the material come to the fore.

Another essential feature of Esterházy’s text is its apparent reflection on the materiality of language. Just as Esterházy quotes Handke on the dilemma of writing and silence, he elaborates Handke’s image of speechlessness, of “hitting a single key until it covers the paper” (cf. Handke 1977: 243), as a dwindling stage of language in the form of a series of letters: “m m mmmmmm [...]” (HV x) – where the letter, with an ambiguity characteristic of Esterházy, can refer both to the inability to speak and to the word “mama”. Elsewhere he refers to himself as a “corrupted text” because he cannot think of anything more precise to say (HV 2). Or the repetition of statements is not only hinted at but also carried out: “I keep trying to tell myself that you’re dead, so that I don’t forget it for a moment, it would be painful, you’re dead, you’re dead, you’re dead” (HV 97). Paradoxically, the implementation deprives the statement of the very sense of uniqueness and unrepeatability that makes it worth repeating. The insertion of the phrase “I am writing it down” at the end of the mother’s speech is also a reflection on the act of writing, which ultimately produces only letters and words, but no meanings: “I have described it: I will describe it. ˂I have described it.˃”  (HV 95, in Hungarian: “Leírom: leírtam: leírom. Leírtam.”). What is written is lost in the egocentricity of self-reflection. At another occasion expression of anger at one’s own powerlessness becomes a typographically deformed curse: “Maybe the whole thing should go into italics. No, damn all prostitutalics” (HV xi. In Hungarian, the pun works much more easily, distorting the curse “A kurva életbe” [kurva - prostitute] into “A kurzivált életbe” [kurzivált - in italics]).

Above all, however, the title, A szív segédigéi Helping [Auxiliary] Verbs of the Heart, suggests that language doesn’t talk about grief, it enacts grief. In the lower part of the text we also find the sentence that “HELPING [AUXILIARY] VERBS CAN EXPRESS NEGATION” (HV 50). This is a reference to the title and links help with negation.

Finally, another neo-avant-garde feature is the contrasting organisation of A szív segédigéi as text and image. By omitting the page numbers (in Hungarian), which are part of the convention of linear reading, and by framing the pages, their perception as individual images is suggested to the reader. However, there is no image on the black-framed pages, but rather a white void that separates the two typographically distinct parts of the page and leaves their relationship open. It can be understood as a kind of fading out of the text. At the same time, however, A szív segédigéi is also structured as a text. The upper part of the pages can be read as a sequence of scenes and textual ideas. The linguistic and narrative contexts exceed the limits set by the black frame in several places. As a result, the status of the work can hardly be clearly assigned. For a text it is iconically structured, but for an image it remains a text. (For the paradoxical combination of textual and pictorial characteristics of the Ottlik-palimpsest see Kelemen 2021.)

Despite these multilayered references to neo-avant-garde textual experimentation, Esterházy is usually categorised as a postmodern writer in Hungarian, something he himself seemed to provoke and confirm in the blurb to his major work, Introduction to Literature: “The postmodern snake bites its own tail” (see Fenyő 2022). However, the use of this attribute can be understood as an ironic allusion to the poetic discussions and demarcations of the time, rather than as an actual self-definition.

The reason why the neo-avant-garde character of Esterházy’s early works in particular have been largely overlooked and only addressed in the last decade can be explained primarily by the lack of a neo-avant-garde literary prose tradition in Hungary (cf. Fenyő 2022, Dánél 2004: 2016). Such a tradition existed only outside Hungary, e.g. in the multicultural art scene of Novi Sad and around the Paris-based Hungarian journal Magyar Műhely (Hungarian Workshop), although the latter frowned upon the term neo-avant-garde, preferring avant-garde instead. Especially in the second half of the 1970s, Magyar Műhely came close to the literary concepts that also characterised Esterházy’s early work. According to Dániel Fenyő, three processes contributed to the fact that Esterházy’s (neo-)avant-garde sources, models or procedures went unnoticed in Hungarian reception (see e.g. Balassa 1988). Firstly, the Budapest critics saw him in the context of the modern prose traditions of the interwar period; secondly, the understanding of the avant-garde of the Parisian emigrants of the late 1970s was limited to multimedia experiments; thirdly, they translated the contemporary postmodernist avant-garde polemics of the visual arts into literature and attributed to postmodernism everything that did not correspond to their rather rigid idea of the avant-garde. A critical review of Esterházy's Daisy, read in Esterházy’s presence at an event organized by Magyar Műhely in 1985, did the rest (see Nagy 1985: 52, quoted by Fenyő 2022). Subsequently, Esterházy adopted, albeit ironically, the label of postmodernism that Magyar Műhely had fought against in the name of a rigid avant-garde understanding (see Fenyő 2022). Only in recent years has there been a cautious attempt to consider the neo-avant-garde sources and characteristics of Esterházy’s writing, which had previously been overlooked (see Dánel 2016, Fenyő 2022).

The general neglect for the experimental character of the text had effects on the translation as well. A szív segédigéi was Esterházy’s first book to be published in English. The English translation ignored some structurally important characteristics of the book and gave it a more conventional form, perhaps so as to enhance some kind of perceived readability. The characteristic layout of the pages was only partially transmitted, while the pages are framed, they are smaller, so that instead of 59 there are 111 pages in the book, longer passages spilled over to the next page and the characteristic configuration of an upper and lower part of each page with a space in-between was partially lost. The pages have been paginated, indicating a more traditional linear form. Quotes weren’t used except for very obvious ones, like the sentences from 1 Corinthians.  Repetitions were reduced in their number (HV 95) and so were peculiarities of tone.  But most importantly, the title referring to the grammatical term “auxiliary verbs” was changed to a synonym that was perhaps considered to sound better or more emotional, thus neglecting the ultimately metapoetical character of the text (for a more detailed discussion of the English translation see Simon 1991).



Péter Esterházy was a political writer par excellence, but his political stance was expressed not in direct statements but in the way he used language. His bon mot from A Little Hungarian Pornography (Kis Magyar pornográfia) is particularly indicative of this attitude: “It is more comforting if the writer thinks not in terms of the people and the homeland, but in terms of subject and predicate” (Esterházy 1995b: 4). Since engagement was predetermined by the regime, opposition to the regime did not (necessarily) consist of oppositional attitudes, but – and this is especially true of Esterházy – of disturbing predetermined ways of speaking. This presupposes both an “extended notion[.] of politics” and a concept of politics and aesthetics that are “inextricably intertwined” (Bernaerts 2023). Breaking with traditional ways of speaking and perceiving offers the possibility of breaking with the prevailing order. In this sense, according to Jacques Rancière, literature is a kind of “meta-politics” (Rancière 2004: 19).

What Esterházy’s friend and fellow writer Péter Nádas wrote about Esterházy’s first great success, A Novel of Production (Termelési-regény) (1979) – namely that it “dethroned and completely ridiculed the ruling language of the dictatorship” – also applies, with some modifications, to the texts of Introduction to Literature (Nádas 2016: 3, translated by EK). In A szív segédigéi, too, everything becomes a question of language use, only here the subversive gesture is directed not at the dominant language of the regime, as prescribed by Moscow, but at the conventional language and rites of mourning. The text’s strong emphasis on the body seems radical, going far beyond what was customary in Hungary to address the details of bodily decay. Not only does the text mention several times the bad smell coming from the mother’s bed (HV 99: 101, 102), but it also describes her naked loins that become visible when the nightgown is pulled up: “Her thin nightgown slips forward, and a stale odor escapes from the open bed. Now the nightgown slides up to the groin, and I give serious thought to whether I should acknowledge it. But it is so hard to accept that all this is real and happening to us at a given moment that (without meaning to brag) I push it out of my mind. The end of her pubic hair peeks out as if it didn’t belong anywhere” (HV 101, see also 105). It’s not the physical detail alone that makes these descriptions so provocative, but the self-deprecating irony with which they are paired. What’s more, the macabre positions that the helpless son finds himself in with his mother often have sexual connotations, and the dialogue, through its tone and wit, both acknowledges and alienates this fact.

“Lifting her is easier than I thought; she moans softly, in pain, and her strong body odor hits me again.

“We are like a couple of lovers”, she says in a detached voice.

I am getting jittery. “Let’s go”.

“Give me your arm”. I give her my arm.

“Not like that”, she says nervously. “Firmer”. I must look too noble, too courteous or solicitous, because she adds, “we are not going on a promenade; we are going to the toilet”. (HV 103)

In the context of his work She Loves Me (Egy nő) (1995), Esterházy himself addressed this lack of tradition in talking about the body: “Hungarian literature does not make one’s situation much easier, because Hungarian literature does not make it clear that one has a body” (Esterházy 1995, 32, translated by EK). This makes the physical clues in A szív segédigéi all the more important and surprising. They go far beyond the usual rules of decorum.



A szív segédigéi, although considered by contemporaries to be a postmodern work of art, is, on closer inspection, characterised by neo-avant-garde textual strategies such as the mixing of visual and textual effects, the construction of a non-linear textual universe, the focus on the materiality of language and the perversion of traditional forms of mourning.

Like other Esterházy texts, it is full of quotations and distorted quotations from Western films, pop songs, literary and even liturgical texts, and parodies various styles of writing, both solemn, obscene and factual. As a montage of quotations, the work negates the traditional notion of originality. Instead, it charges old forms with new meanings. Through these appropriations, Esterházy’s text becomes an experimental field in which different ways of speaking and writing about mourning are quoted, alienated and played off against each other. While Esterházy’s text recounts the scenes surrounding the dying mother, it also reflects on the differences between fossilised (i.e. dead) and living (i.e. new) meanings that words and phrases are given.


Further reading

  • Balassa, Péter (ed.). Diptichon. Elemzések Esterházy Péter és Nádas Péter műveiről 1986-1988. [Diptych. Analyses of the works of Péter Esterházy and Péter Nádas 1986-1988] Budapest: Magvető, 1988.
  • Bernaerts, Lars, Broqua, Vincent and Müller, Sabine. “Literary Neo-Avant-Gardes – Historicizing the Politics of Form.” Modernism/modernity 8.1 (2023) Accessed: 2023 October 20.
  • Bojtár, Endre. “Kis Ešterházy.” 2000. December 2005, 61–65.
  • Dánél, Mónika. Nyelv-karnevál. Magyar neoavantgard alkotások poétikája. [Language Carnival. Poetics of Hungarian neo-avant-garde works] Budapest: Kijárat, 2016.
  • Dánél, Mónika. Zwischen den Sprachen. Versuch einer historischen Kontextualisierung der ungarischen Neoavantgarde. [Between the Languages. An Attempt at a Historical Contextualisation of the Hungarian Neoavantgarde] Spielarten der Sprache. [Varieties of Language] Eds Kulcsár-Szabó Ernő, Csongor Lőrinc and Molnár Gábor Tamás. Budapest: Osiris, 2004. 369-390.
  • Esterházy, Péter. Daisy. Budapest: Magvető, 1984.
  • Esterházy, Péter. A szív segédigéi. Budapest: Magvető, 1985.
  • Esterházy, Péter and Marianna D. Birnbaum, Esterházy-kalauz. Marianna D. Birnbaum beszélget Esterházy Péterrel. [A Guide to Péter Esterházy. Marianna D. Birnbaum talks with Péter Esterházy] Budapest: Magvető, 1991.
  • Esterházy, Péter. A szív segédigéi. Budapest: Magvető, 2016.
  • Esterházy, Péter. Bevezetés a szépirodalomba. [Introduction to Literature]. Budapest: Magvető, 1986.
  • Esterházy, Péter. Helping Verbs of the Heart. Translated by Michael Henry Heim. London: Quartet, 1992.
  • Esterházy, Péter. Egy nő. Budapest: Magvető, 1995a.
  • Esterházy, Péter. A Little Hungarian Pornography. Translated by Judith Sollosy. Evanston Ill.: Hydra Books: Northwestern University Press, 1995b.
  • Esterházy Péter. “Kilencvenhét nők. Láng Zsuzsa interjúja.” [Ninety-Seven women Interview with Zsuzsa Láng] 168 óra [168 hours] (June 6, 1995): 32.
  • Esterházy, Péter. She Loves Me. Translated by Judith Sollosy. Evanston Ill.: Hydra Books: Northwestern University Press, 2000.
  • Esterházy, Péter. Múlik az idő. 25 éve jelent meg. Danilo Kiš: A holtak enciklopédiája [Time  passes. Danilo Kiš’s The Encyclopedia of the Dead was published 25 years ago] In: Esterházy, Péter: A szabadság nehéz mámora. Esszék, cikkek 1996-2003. [The heavy Dizziness of Freedom, Selected Essays, Aricles 1996-2003] Budapest: Magvető, 2003. 24-25.
  • Esterházy, Péter’s Notes. AdK [Academy of the Arts] Berlin, Esterházy-Nachlass [Literary Estate of Péter Esterházy] vol. 18 and 19.
  • Fenyő, Dániel. “Önértelmezés és ítélet.” [Self-interpretation and judgment] Jelenkor [Our Times] 7-8 (2022): 870-881.
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