The historical legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy remains a subject of considerable debate and particular significance in an increasingly unified Europe. Given that political unification has by no means led to any widespread consensus concerning interpretations of the half-century of European history preceding the outbreak of World War I, it may be worthwhile to consider how the memory of this geographically large and nationally and linguistically diverse state has shifted in different historical periods. This article seeks to further an understanding of the contentious legacy of the Dual Monarchy through discussion of examples from works by Hungarian authors, in particular Dezső Kosztolányi, Gyula Krúdy, and Sándor Márai.
Among the Hungarian and the Polish Renaissance publications dealing with the problems of the two countries, a small number of beautiful prose works can be found as well. They were on various topics, such as religion, love, chivalry, historical and moral guidance. In the Hungarian literature of that time, religious works were in majority. Biernat of Lublin in the Polish literature and Gáspár Heltai in the Hungarian literature created works of stable literary value.
József Lengyel (1896–1975), a Hungarian short story writer, could compare European and other landscapes based on personal
experience, since he had to spend 18 years in Siberia in Stalin’s Gulag. He wrote a short story cycle, in which the relation
of man and nature, the experience of an extreme climate, and the peculiarities of the Siberian landscape are central themes.
What people were doing there, was a struggle, partly for survival, partly for the transformation of nature into something
“useful” to man, or at least suitable for human life. This authentic representation of a non-European environment, which is
unique in Hungarian literature, will be compared in this paper with the short stories by István Tömörkény (1866–1917), who
in some hundreds of ethnographic short stories described the life of miserable peasants on the Great Hungarian Plain, i.e.,
activities that Lengyel described as “beautifying the land.” In both oeuvres nature tends to appear as an enemy, which is
sometimes indomitable, sometimes to be defeated by all means. The representation of indomitable nature performs the environmental
sublime, while fighting nature appears as an attitude, which is highly problematic in retrospect. The ethos of environmental
devastation makes such literature uncomfortable reading in an age of possible global environmental catastrophes; but the continuous
fight with nature means a continuous coexistence with nature at the same time, i.e., a continuous realization of the dependence
of human existence on the environment, a realization that can be useful now, when human beings try to live in the illusion
of a possible separation from nature.
Classicism or Modernity? It was not difficult to give an answer to this question for Mihály Babits, one of the most outstanding and, after a good while, most highly esteemed poets of 20th century Hungarian literature. He voted for both. Having a thorough knowledge of the Greek-Latin tradition, for him Modernity meant complete coexistence with it: “Such a respectful attitude to the past, such a loving preservation of the tradition, such conservatism is the greatest modernity. He only can be called modern who has experienced all, who carries in his mind the totality of the past, who is the pinnacle of his own times, because he unifies all ages in himself.” The stress always depended on the political situation. Neoclassicism or New Classicism was his reply to the new political and cultural phenomena of the 1920s–30s.
The creative reception of Anton Chekhov in contemporary Hungarian literature often takes the form of a role-play in which poets put on an authorial mask that displays Russian literary references, while their Chekhovian intertexts constitute an organic part of a playful evocation of classic Russian literature. The form of the mask lyric, including especially that of the so-called “oroszvers” (verbatim: a Russian poem), is also characteristic of poetry from across the border in Transylvania; more specifically, of the writers’ generations starting out in the sixties and seventies, named after the book series entitled Forrás (Springs), growing up on the heritage of the 20th-century Hungarian poet Attila József, and apparently representing this heritage but, at the same time, introducing a new form of expression as well. This study focuses on the poetics of two such contemporary authors, László Király (b. 1943) and András Ferenc Kovács (b. 1959), in whose poetry I wish to examine the phenomenon belonging to the category of literary mystification, while analyzing the manifestations of the typical Chekhovian protagonist and the Chekhovian “atmosphere” as transposed into poetry.
This paper discusses several prose epic works of modern Hungarian and Croatian literature which attempt to characterize each other through stereotypes formed about the other. Setting the characterizations of “the foreign” and of “the own” in prose epic works follows the demands of the national narrative in both literary traditions.*
The essay discusses the renewed interest in Jewish subjects in post-1989 Hungary and, more specifically, popular new Hungarian fiction dealing naturalistically and anecdotally with the Hungarian Jewish experience - fiction written in most cases by “engagé” Hungarian Jewish writers. The essay also touches on the phenomenon of “de-Judaized” Hungarian Jewish literature, in which the Jewish content is masked, concealed, universalized, and with Hungarian writers of Jewish descent who object to the category of “Hungarian Jewish” literature. It is in this context that the essay deals with Imre Kertész and his works, and attempts to show that while his novels deal explicitly with the Hungarian Jewish “fate”, or fatelessness, he is always intent on suggesting the universal relevance of this state of fatelessness.
This paper delineates critical approaches to the reading of autobiographical writings that make no presumptions concerning the identity of language and subject or the identity of narrating self and narrated self. It proposes readings that posit the act of narration as a creative gesture through which the narrated self is constructed through the figures of language rather than described as an essence that preceded narration.