The paper explores Hungarian films that make reference to South Slavic cultures. The author examines the problems of cinematic representation and employs the methodology of imagology. The core question of the paper is how Hungarian films represent Yugoslavian (or ex-Yugoslavian) characters. Márk Bodzsár’s Heavenly Shift (Isteni műszak) is set in 1992, events on the minor storyline take place in Sarajevo, while the protagonist of the main storyline is an ethnic Hungarian from Vojvodina who illegally crossed the Serbian–Hungarian border. The story of Ibolya Fekete’s Bolse vita begins in 1989: the Russian protagonists of the film would like cross over Western Europe through Yugoslavia, and the film ends with archival footage of the ex-Yugoslavian conflict. The protagonist of Ibolya Fekete’s Chico takes part in this conflict on the Croatian side and the film depicts events of the war from this point of view. Attila Till’s Kills on Wheels (Tiszta szívvel, 2016) features a character of Serbian origin who is portrayed through devices of black humour.
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.*
Intellectuals and (following them) also common people remember their distant origin. Cultural memory institutions maintain references to factual and historical past, and it looks back also to mythical origins, or connections with old (since then have often been extinguished) peoples. Virgil heroificated the Trojan origin of Rome. The identity of France embraces also the Celtic Gauls, the German Franks, and the local ancestors, speaking Romance languages. Moscow heralded herself as “third Rome” (Byzantium being the “second Rome”). There are many particular forms of the so called “cultural memory”: in pointing towards the glorious or unjustly lost ancestors.Hungary is another — not neglectful — clear case of constant searching for “intermediate” forefathers. Since the Middle Ages Hungarians have been connected (both from outside or inside of the country) with the Huns, and the country’s tragic history in 15th–17th centuries was compared with that of Israel, already depicted in the Old Testament. Historians of the 18th and 19th centuries, interested in Hungary, tried to prove the “oriental” (Persian, Aryan, Turanian, etc.) bases of Hungarian language and culture. My historical report ends by the end of the 19th century, but the same tendency is actual in our days too. I call that as “proxy cultural memory” — presenting one’s own culture through a “creative reference” to different and other (old) cultures. The “proxy identity” is not constructing one’s actual identity, but it aims to invent a constructed image about something else. It has two main characteristics: it covers the times from which we do not know proper historical facts — and it is a part of ideology. As such it serves the “nation’s characterology”, ethnic stereotypes and imagology as well.
The Austro-Hungarian Monarchy’s military missions on the Balkans can provide the only experience in Hungarian history that can be connected with a notion of colonization. The paper scrutinises some Hungarian writers’ responses to that experience. Kálmán Mikszáth as a journalist shows a shift in attitude; he strongly criticized the occupation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, but eventually he proudly advertised a colonizing discourse. The most important monument of the 40-year connection with Bosnia and Herzegovina in the Hungarian culture was János Asbóth’s monography in two volumes entitled
Bosnia and Herzegovina
. In that work the celebration of modernisation, westernisation, the development of economy and infrastructure does not imply racism and religious intolerance. The short stories by István Tömörkény that describe the military life in the sanjak Novi Bazar offer a careful analysis of the cultural and linguistic aspects of the experience of otherness in the multicultural Balkan environment.
. At the Crossroads of Translation Studies and Imagology. In: Chesterman, A., San Salvador, N. G. & Gambier, Y. (eds) Translation in Context. Selected Contributions from the EST Congress . Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 143