The page of Hamvas Béla, English biography
BiographyBéla Hamvas was born in Eperjes into the family of an evangelical pastor. The family moves to Pozsony (Bratislava), where he graduates. Thereafter he enters into voluntary military sevice and is wouded twice on the front-line in Ukraine.In 1919 his father refuses to take the oath of allegiance to Slovakia, therefore the family is expelled from Pozsony and moves to Budapest, where he enters the Péter Pázmány University. He is journalist at the Budapest Hírlap and the Szózat. He marries in 1937 the writer Katalin Kemény. He is called in three times for military service in WWII. In 1945 a bomb hits their appartment, his home, library and manuscripts are destroyed.
He writes The philosophy of wine in 1945 during his short summer holiday spent at Lake Balaton. „The Philosophy of wine is an apology for the rare, solemn instants of life, of ease, play and self-forgetting serenity. This is the world of dionysian, mediterranian intoxication, the bee-master’s half-awake, half-dreaming meditation on an August afternoon, under the nut tree, the pure, glittering serenity of Orpheus: some of the rare, idyllic moments lived by Hamvas. It is precisely a glass of fiery Szekszárdi of green-golden Somlói that could make us aware of them. The philosophy of wine is not an inventory of Hungarian wine treasures. Neither is that of botany or gastronomy. As in his other writings, Hamvas always pays attention to the main features of human behaviour, to the bases of life. Classification is the task of books on oenology. The concern of this book is altogether different. It prepares the reader to worship the presence.” (by Antal Dúl in The philosophy of wine)
In 1948 he is placed on the B-list by the communist regime (i.e. interdiction of publishing) and forced into retirement. Thereafter he is first land laborer in Szentendre, then unskilled worker in a power plant, and parallelly completes his other works. He dies in brain haemorrhage in 1968.