Chapter nine of Dezso Kosztolányi's 1933 work, Esti Kornél, lends itself to multiple interpretations, none complete or exhaustive. It is possible to look at this story from the perspective of the other - the Bulgarian train conductor - and it is possible to analyze it as an allegorical, danteesque descent into an inferno in which the Bulgarian train conductor is a guide, a kalauz, to Esti Kornél. A look at the story from the perspective of narratology would yield rich results, as would a rhetorical approach. I propose an analysis of this story through the prism of translation. It reveals that this is a type prose very much akin to poetry: in it, linguistic form is at least as important as semantic content, if not more. Here, the recognition of formal patterns leads to semantic discoveries. In this chapter, language has become the protagonist that manipulates the other characters. Translation points most straightforwardly to this fact because it is in translation that the loss and, therefore, the presence of the original's linguistic form is most acutely felt. The problems raised in translation illustrate how this text poses critical questions about linguistic and cultural relativism, about the nature of translation, about the possibility of communication between different linguistic communities as well as between individuals who share linguistic and cultural values.
Dezső Kosztolányi, "A Magyar nyelv helye a földgolyón," in Nyelv és lélek, (Budapest, 1999), 97.