György Faludy, 96, a poet and translator considered one of Hungary's greatest literary figures of the last century, died Friday in his Budapest home (via LA Times, thanks TEV):
Faludy fled the Nazis and the communists, and his works were banned in his home country for decades. He spent 33 years in exile, first in Europe and later mainly in Toronto, where he obtained citizenship. He returned to Hungary in 1989, shortly after the publication there of his autobiographical novel My Happy Days in Hell. First published in English in 1962, the book was considered a precursor to Alexander Solzhenitsyn's accounts of the Soviet concentration camps. Born to a Jewish family in Budapest, Faludy first gained acclaim in the mid-1930s for his translations of the ballads of 15th century French poet Francois Villon. He left Hungary in 1938 amid rising intolerance against Jews and hostility to his political views. He returned after World War II and was imprisoned in the infamous Recsk labor camp in 1950 on false charges by Hungary's Stalinist regime. In the camps, he organized literature courses to keep the prisoners occupied. Faludy was released in 1953, when the camp was closed after Stalin's death.