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Creating a nation: monuments and textual documents in Hungary: 1800-1900 Zsuzsanna Varga.

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Presentation on theme: "Creating a nation: monuments and textual documents in Hungary: 1800-1900 Zsuzsanna Varga."— Presentation transcript:

1 Creating a nation: monuments and textual documents in Hungary: Zsuzsanna Varga

2 History The formation of a modern national identity in Europe may be said to have taken place in at least three different stages … the second stage reached its peak between the uprising in Poland, and the national uprisings of 1848 in the Austro-Hungarian empire. (Paulius Subacius, 2005)

3 The end of the process: Budapest in 1894 On the other hand, Buda-Pest has for me an attraction … In front frowns the ancient and lofty fortress of Buda, which formerly held Hungary abject and trembling under its cannon, and the Burg, formerly Imperial, where watched the implacable eyes of the conqueror. … A new royal chateau is going up nearby, which will take place the old yellow barracks which serve now as a dwelling for the King of Hungary in this capital, finally recovered from the age-long domination of Austria. (De Blowitz, 1894.)

4 The creation of nationhood The sense of modern national identity is created by many factors, amongst them: institutional structure in the arts and humanities, preserving national heritage, creating and (re)costructing cultural memory and national heritage.

5 Enlightenment expectations 1: Hungarian has no future ‘The use of a dead language such as Latin is surely a disgrace to a nation for its enlightenment, as it tacite proves that either that nation does not have a proper mother tongue, or that no one can speak or write it.’ Joseph II, 1784

6 Enlightenment expectations 2: Hungarians have no future ‘Here they are now, the minority of inhabitants among Slavs, Germans, Vlachs, and other peoples, and after centuries perhaps even their language will have disappeared.’ Herder, 1792

7 The state of national language in 1835 Pope: ‘You speak Italian well, I say you do. And in Hungary, what language do they speak? It is German, is it not?’ PW: ‘Our own language.’ Pope: ‘That, no doubt, is Latin?’ PW: ‘No, Santo Padre, that is Hungarian.’ Polixéna Wesselényi (1842) pp

8 The state of national culture 1835 ‘I would have been immensely proud and pleased if any other product of scholarly effort, effort in trade and artisanship had been displayed instead of these stones.’ Bölöni-Farkas on mislabelled, supposedly Hungarian, stones in the British Museum, 1835.

9 The response to Enlightenment premonitions and observations The period between the 1820s/1830s and 1895 saw the rise of national cultural institutions and the creation of the national literary canon

10 Stage 1: the humble beginnings Creating national cultural institutions: architecture in the neoclassical genre National Museum and Library (institution:1802; building: ) National Academy of Sciences 1825 Count Széchenyi’s one-year income National Theatre (Hungarian language: public donation 1837)

11 National Academy of Sciences

12 to cultivate scholarship and aesthetic subjects in the language of the homeland textual monuments gathered from the nation’s past: codices, dictionaries, unearthing textual documents

13 National Museum

14 Creative writing The discovery or creation of great national epics Vörösmarty, The Flight of Zalán 1825 (the origin of the nation: the theme is the landtaking by Árpád and the 7 tribes, but it largely focuses upon the flight of the defeated Bolgars) Arany, The Death of Buda 1863 (delayed experiment; the Huns as the origin of the nation)

15 Stage 2 : national self-confidence 1870s-1900 Establishing the literary and written canon to recapitulate the nation’s past The definitive texts of great national poets ‘Monumenta’ series in history to reedit and republish historical documents Even forging literary documents Kálmán Thaly’s kuruc laments

16 Translation industry Shakespeare: the full run (financed by the goverment) Molière: the full run (publicly financed) Other nations’ epic poetry: Dante, Tasso Milton Neglect for fiction, delayed reception

17 Building public monuments for utilitarian purposes Integrating non-Hungarian elements of the past: Turkish baths 1880; Aquincum Establishing institutions for the future: Board of Works 1870 Parliament

18 Selected sources Bölöni-Farkas, Sándor. Nyugat-európai utazás. [Travels in Western Europe] Kolozsvár: Minerva, Lendvai, Paul. Hungary: a thousand years of victory in defeat. Tr. Ann Major London: Hurst, Lukacs, John. Budapest, London: Weidenfeld, Subacius, Paul. ‘Scholarly editing and nation-building in Europe.’ European Science Foundation presentation, Wesselényi, Polixéna. Olaszhoni és schweizi utazás, [Travels in Italy and Switzerland, 1842] Budapest: Magvető, 1981.


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