By Frederick Karinthy


THE other day I was reading in bed a certain American journal which publishes every week those fascinating illustrations, such as, for example, a small man standing beside a huge egg, an egg at least ten times as big as the man. Underneath is a caption something like this: “This shows how many eggs a man eats in his life.”

Or there is a big bull standing beside a small man, a bull which is, apparently, as huge as a house. And the journal claims that I have eaten that bull. Or there is a finger-nail as big as the door of a cathedral. And the paper claims that this shows how much nail I shall cut off during my life.

Well, after I had finished that, I yawned, pulled the eiderdown snugly over me, closed my eyes and dreamt that I awakened with a huge yawn. I climbed out of bed and went to the bathroom to wash myself. It was a bit difficult because the soap was as big as a tombstone.

In the wash-basin, huge as a


lake, the water was lashed by a violent storm. Arising out of the beach at the side of the basin mountains of tubes and pots of pastes and creams towered. I mumbled to myself that it was about time to shave myself and stroked my six-yard-long beard—which must have been as much as I had shaved off in my life.

After a time I sat down to work. Absentmindedly I kept on dipping my pen into the inkstand. Of course, it was a bit annoying to have to climb the long ladder leading to the gorge of the inkstand whenever I wanted to dip. I tore a sheet off the immense roll of paper, which was equal in length to all the paper I have ever used.

But it was impossible to work. The front door vibrated with a terrible ringing. A sinister giant came in and presented a bill twelve yards long and asked me to settle it. I promised to do so next time, and put on my hat—about as big as Hyde Park—and rushed down the staircase, which had one hundred million, four hundred thou-


sand, six hundred and twenty-two steps) to have my breakfast at a restaurant.

At the restaurant a huge crowd of young men was waiting for me. The moment I arrived they turned towards me, like a well-trained regiment, and thundered at me in chorus: “Hello, hello, don’t you know me, old fellow? I’m . . . (six thousand names follows) . . . your college friend. D’you remember the fun we had with Professor . . . (now six thousand names again)? How’s everything? Where are you going? To have breakfast? Well, I’ll join you.


I haven’t seen you for ages.”

I entered the restaurant in a daze. The multitude followed me. It sat round my table, asking in a jarring chorus: “Well, how’s business?”

In the meantime, the waiter put a steaming cauldron before me, full of twenty thousand gallons of coffee. With a sinister leer the waiter told me that the strange prehistoric monster wandering around my head was a T.B. germ and that I was about to inhale it.

The cigarette stuck in my mouth was two miles long and four yards thick. Feeling rather terrified of everything I jumped up and



left. The multitude followed me and on the doorstep whispered (sounding like the roar of a gun): “Could you possibly lend me a fiver till to-morrow ?”

I distributed thirty thousand pounds. The multitude dispersed. But I didn’t remain in peace for long. An army of twelve thousand was approaching down a side street.

“Excuse me,” said the twelve thousand, “Why didn’t you answer my letter I must have posted six weeks ago?”

I blushed.

“I am sorry,” I said. “You see, I’m so stupidly absent-minded. I forgot to post the reply. It’s the first time in my life that I haven’t answered a letter.”

Deeply hurt, the twelve thousand pointed to their own chests and said, “How curious it happened to be my letter!” They raised their hats coolly and hurried on to the other side of the street.

The next party, about seven thousand strong, met me on the corner. They turned to me suddenly and said, “What luck to run into you. I’ve wanted to talk to you for a long time. It’s time something was done about you. You’re a very gifted, though unpractical man. You need someone like me


behind you. Don’t worry. To-morrow I’m going to talk to. . . (seven thousand names) on your behalf.”

They patted my shoulder kindly, which then swelled half a yard.

“I am going to make you successful,” they shouted zealously.

I turned away adroitly. as a deputation of five thousand ladies approached me. But they grabbed my arm with considerable passion. They looked into my eyes and talked in a low, intimate voice which sounded like fifty foghorns.

“You realise, don’t you, that. . . that I understand you . . . what you wrote in your last poem, was meant for me . . . the woman you wrote about was me?”

“So you understand, do you?” I said, and looked sadly into their eyes for a long time.

But I could not wait for the answer. My sleeve had been grabbed by ten thousand hands.

“Hello, old fellow,” shouted the ten thousand.

“Hello,”" I said, with great pleasure. “Hello,my only and best pal.”

“Hello,my only and best pal!” they echoed. And then, disgusted with them and myself, I rubbed a bedroom-sized tear from my eye, and woke up.



The contributors to this issue


Frederick Karinthy

until his death recently was one of the most prolific and popular Hungarian humorists. For 25 years he produced an article a day for a paper in Budapest, Karinthy’s attitude to life was ironic; even when he was attacked by a serious illness, he wrote it up with half-scientific, half-humorous detachment, in a fascinating last work “A Journey Round My Skull.”

LILLIPUT appears on the 15th of each month


SOURCE: Karinthy, Frederick [Frigyes]. “Statistics” [translator unknown], Lilliput, vol. 5, no. 5, issue no. 29, November 1939, pp. 454-456 + 508 (The contributors to this issue).

Frigyes & Ferenc Karinthy in English

Frigyes (Frederiko) Karinthy (1887-1938) en Esperanto

Futurology, Science Fiction, Utopia, and Alienation
in the Work of Imre Madách, György Lukács, and Other Hungarian Writers:
Select Bibliography

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