But Eliot Fremont-Smith, writing in The New York Times, found merit in the work.
“If ‘In Praise of Older Women’ is not a novel,” he writes, “it is an essay on refreshing eroticism.
The book inspired two films: a Hollywood version in 1978 whose stars included Tom Berenger and Karen Black, and a Spanish film in 1997 with Juan Diego Botto as the central character and Faye Dunaway as one of the love interests. Its title has become something of a cultural slogan, and by the time Penguin Classics re-released it in 2010, it has reportedly sold five million copies in 21 countries.
The Penguin Edition came out as much was written about the cougar and boy toy phenomenon – older women, including prominent celebrities, who had romantic relationships with much younger men. In interviews at the time, Mr. Vizinczey dismissed the idea that his novel was a precursor of this trend; those relationships just seemed physical, he said, while the ones he wrote about were something more.
“In the world I grew up in, sex has never been just sex,” he told The Independent Extra of Britain in 2010. “It started with some kind of connection. Women. older people wanted to give something – not money, not a loan – to give something of themselves. You were friends, you had a certain point of unity. Intelligence was very important.
Stephen Vizinczei – he later changed the spelling – was born on May 12, 1933 in Kaloz, Hungary, southwest of Budapest. When he was 2 years old, his father, a Roman Catholic and anti-fascist schoolteacher, was assassinated by the Nazis, who were then ascendant in Hungary.
As a young man, he wrote plays, some of which displeased the Soviet-backed government which had taken control of the country after World War II. At the time of the 1956 uprising against this government, he was 23 years old and was at the heart of the revolt; he was part of a group that shot down a statue of Stalin in Budapest in October.
“We had no technical knowledge and were hoping to bring down the colossal bronze statue with steel cables attached to the tractors,” he wrote in 2006 in a recollection published in the National Post of Canada. “We were surprised the cables broke. But eventually someone with a blowtorch came and cut off Stalin’s feet at the boots. “