Author(s): Janos Szekely; Mark Baczoni (Translator)
A Dickensian coming-of-age tale about poverty, sex, World War I, and the darker side of human nature as seen through the eyes of a lobby boy in a Budapest hotel.
Temptation is a rediscovered masterwork of twentieth-century fiction, a Dickensian tale of a young man coming of age in Budapest between the wars. Illegitimate and unwanted, B la is packed off to the country to be looked after by a peasant woman the moment he is born. She starves and bullies him, and keeps him out of school. He does his best to hold his own, and eventually his mother brings him back to live with her in the city. In thrall to his feckless father, Mishka, and living in a crowded tenement, she works her fingers to the bone, while B la shares a room with a hardworking prostitute. Finally, B la secures a job in a fancy hotel. Though exhausted by endless work, he is fascinated by the upper-crust world that his new job exposes him to; soon he is embroiled with a rich, damaged, and dangerous woman. The atmosphere of Budapest is increasingly poisoned by the appeal of fascism, while B la grows ever more aware of how power and money keep down the working classes. In the end, with all the odds still against him, he musters the resolve to set sail for a new future.