Nibelung Park

János Térey
Dramatic poem in four parts (Magveto) 2004, 443 pages

„We’re doomed if the great hammer’s strength is gone
That crushed the dragon Nidhogg to agony;

If the Nibelung Sun outshines our own
And any dwarf can rewrite history.”

In a mythic-yet-futuristic Germany, among the dark skyscrapers of a vast industrial metropolis somewhere along the Rhine called Worms, but rather recalling contemporary Frankfurt or New York (or even Gotham City), stands the Nibelung Residential Park, reserved for the rich and beatiful leaders of the city: Siegfried for example, the CEO of the Wälsungwerke or his good friend Gunther, an investment counsellor of the Nibelung & Gibichung Group, Brünnhilde, Siegfried’s fiencée, who is the owner of the Ragnaröck Art Gallery – and of course Hagen, another investment banker at the firm and half-brother of Siegfried, nursing long-time frustrations in the shadow of the two rich and successful men who are constantly teasing him because of his being a short and rather ugly Nibelung.
Brünnhilde’s engagement with Siegfried is not really based on love, but rather on money and power, mainly represented by a miraculous jewel, whose inscription – R.I.N.G. – can either promise eternal wealth (reading „Rheinland Industry Net worth Guaranteed”) or the eventual downfall of the whole economic empire of the Wälsungs (reading „Rheinland Industry Not Guaranteed”). So when Hagen drugs Siegfried and makes him seduce her in the guise of his friend, Gunther, she gives in easily, and the pompous double wedding of Gunther and Brünnhilde, and Siegfried and Gutrune (the sister of Gunther) is quickly organised. However, when they are all on the stairs of the Worms Cathedral, surrounded by a swarm of reporters and paparazzi, a scandal breaks out: the two women, turning out to be lesbians, choose each other instead of their wealthy suitors. Hagen gets fired from Gibichung & Nibelung, and flees to illegality, swearing revenge on his former bosses and committing a series of spectacular terrorist attacks, resulting in the 9/11-esque collapse of the Wälsungs’ new crown jewel, the Notung Tower, only to be shot by Gutrune in the end, after he raided the Residential Park with a mercenary commando, and killed Gunther, Siegfried and Brünnhilde during the attack.
In this towering achievement of contemporary Hungarian poetry, János Térey twists and turns the Wagnerian cycle of the Ring – a compilation and palimpsest of earlier texts itself, drawing from the ancient myths of the Eddas and the Nibelung-cyle – into a dramatic tetralogy on late capitalism and the consumer society. The Wagnerian heroes become the potentates of the world of business, the stock market, the media, the beauty industry, contemporary culture and organized crime, and the „nornas” , who spin the yarn of fate, work in Térey’s drama in the studio of a news channel. The four dramas relate a capitalist family story, where everything is ruled by interest, profit and the yearning for possession and control, where cruelty becomes a symbolic force – and all this in a powerful poetic language mixing high and low, where grand Shakespearean monologues are spoken in urban slang, and fast-paced dialogues oscillate between mythical allusions and pop-culture references.
The dramatic poem comprising four connecting parts (Wotan kockázik, Wotan Plays – a Dice preludium; Rajnapark, Rhine Park – a black comedy; Siegfried lakodalma, The Wedding of Siegfired – a ceremonial play; and Hagen, avagy a gyűlöletbeszéd, Hagen or Hate Speech – a catastrophe play) can be read as a riveting closet drama full of poetical richness, action and intrigue, but it’s beautifully-wrought text was also the material for an emblematic theatre performance – hailed as one of the most important theatrical phenomenons in Hungary in decades – in an old military hospital built into a war bunker in the heart of the Gellért Hill in the center of Budapest, directed by internationally acclaimed film and theatre director Kornél Mundruczó, and performed by the world-famous Hungarian theater group Krétakör.


Scene from the performance by Krétakör



• Excerpt from Nibelung Park in English
• Complete text of Nibelung Park III. (Hagen) in French
• Complete text of Nibelung Park III. (Hagen) in German



„Germanic mythology is almost as if it was invented by Hollywood creatives. It’s fuel: adrenaline and ambition. It’s agressive, it’s merciless, it’s full of blood, it’s everyone’s total war against everyone else. Gods against gods, humans against humans, humans against gods, gods against humans.”
Gusztáv Schubert,

„The play’s real hero is certainly Hagen, and he is an excellently potrayed dramatic hero from the psychological and dramaturgical point of view, who’s character is correct even from the perspective of the philosophy of history. Nibelung Park of course presents it in the form in which it is shown during the drama, but regarding Hagen, we can also read the work as an enquiry on the nature of modern terrorism. Térey deducts the apocalyptic revenge of the terror-dwarf from the unmeasureable lust and the frustrated ambition of human beings lost in self-admiration.”
Miklós Györffy, Jelenkor

„The generation of poets to which Térey belongs to has reached the first peak of it’s creative potentials in the last years. They publish works which are powerful, mature, and have the ambition to sum up all their previous works. The work of Térey even rises above these books; among the newer poetic achievements, Nibelung Park shows the biggest poetic capacity. It’s worthy of the reader’s attention and appreciation, and even, at some distinguished points, of his or her admiration too.”
László Márton, Holmi

„Térey once again managed to say something new, while still saying the same thing as before. But at the same time, our author raises the bar higher and higher every time, and never fails to succeed. Which is, regarding his game of monologic linguistic environment and it’s one-voicedness, a quite big achievement. We had a really good time in the puppet theatre of Wotan. And we can’t wait to see the next performance.”
Sándor Bazsányi, Holmi



János Térey was born in Debrecen in 1970, and graduated in Hungarian Literature and Linguistics from Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest in 1996. In 1997–98 he worked as editor for Cosmopolitan, ever since he has been a freelance writer. He has twelve volumes to date, most of them poetry, with one volume of fiction and, lately, several verse novels and dramatic poems. Térey is arguably the most prolific and dynamic creative artist in Hungarian literature today. His energy and drive have repeatedly proved able to bring up to date and breathe new life into poetic genres that were forgotten and believed dead. More on the author

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