GENERATION WEST: HUNGARIAN MODERNISM AND THE WRITERS OF THE NYUGAT REVIEW by Agnes MacDonald B.A. The University of British Columbia, 2002 M.A. The University of British Columbia, 2004 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (Comparative Literature) THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA (Vancouver) December 2009 © Agnes MacDonald, 2009 ABSTRACT This dissertation examines how the Nyugat review played an essential role in the development of literary and cultural modernism in early twentieth century Hungary. My chief argument is that modern Hungarian literature and culture, under the auspices of Nyugat, are part of that Central European canon which had shaped some of the most influential literary and critical theories. The review nurtured over one-hundred and twenty writers, artists and intellectuals who left a lasting impact on Hungarian literature and culture. These authors are known as the Nyugat-generation, a term which I adopt as Generation West. They contributed to the journal in Budapest between 1908 and 1941. My dissertation focuses on three of the most important contributors to Nyugat: Margit Kaffka, Dezső Kosztolányi and Antal Szerb and their respective works, Colours and Years, Esti Kornél, and Journey by Moonlight. They exemplify their generations’ perspectives and illuminate the course of Nyugat over three distinct periods. Inspired by the modernist currents of Western Europe which they espoused, these writers along with other members of the Generation West experienced “in-betweenness,” a condition characterized by the values of the traditional and the modern, East and West, nation and the individual, and feudal and bourgeois, which marked and also fuelled their output. Nyugat has come to epitomize the experience of Hungarian identity expressed through the themes of nationhood, nostalgia and commemoration. To demonstrate the journal’s legacy in Hungary today, I conclude by analyzing the events of the Nyugat 100-year anniversary that took place in 2008. My dissertation tells the story of how a community of writers and artists from a small nation in East-Central Europe instituted a profound literary and cultural movement under the aegis of a journal. I consider my study a call for reworking models of literary and cultural history and for expanding existing epistemologies of modernism. ii TABLE OF CONTENTS Abstract………………………………………………………………………………………… ii Table of Contents……………………………………………………………………………... iii List of Illustrations……………………………………………………………………………. iv Acknowledgements……………………………………………………………………………. vi Introduction……………………………………………………………………………………. 1 Preparatory Notes……………………………………………………………………….. 1 Beginnings………………………………………………………………………………. 9 Chapter One…………………………………………………………………………………... 18 The Austro-Hungarian Monarchy and the Modernization of Budapest……………….. 18 Generation, Nation and Print Media…………………………………………………… 33 The Nyugat Period(ical)……………………………………………………………….. 50 Chapter Two………………………………………………………………………………….. 86 A New Type of Woman: Feminism in Hungary at the Turn of the Century………….. 86 Margit Kaffka and the Nyugat…………………………………………………………. 98 Kaffka’s First Novel: Colours and Years…………………………………………….. 124 Chapter Three………………………………………………………………………………. 150 Dezső Kosztolányi and the Nyugat……………………………………………………150 Language and the Impossibility of Translation………………………………………. 174 Who is Kornél Esti? Fragments of a Story…………………………………………… 188 Chapter Four………………………………………………………………………….…….. 216 Antal Szerb and the Nyugat…………………………………………………………... 216 Stories and Histories of Literature……………………………………………………. 243 Journey by Moonlight: A Generation’s Nostalgic Search for the Self in Budapest and Italy……………………………………………………………………. 257 Discussion and Conclusions………………………………………………………………… 281 Centennial Celebrations of Nyugat…………………………………………………… 281 Auxiliary Notes: Nyugat Then and Now……………………………………………... 305 Bibliography………………………………………………………………………………… 311 Appendices…………………………………………………………………………………... 325 Appendix A……………………………………………………………………………325 Appendix B…………………………………………………………………………… 326 Appendix C…………………………………………………………………………… 327 iii LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS The author of this dissertation is grateful to the Directors of the National Széchényi Library and the Petőfi Literary Museum in Budapest for their kind permissions to reproduce some of the cover pages of Nyugat and related images from their Nyugat websites along with photographs taken at the PLM Nyugat exhibit in July 2008. Other photographs and images reproduced here are from the private collections of the author of this dissertation. Image 1. Image 2. Image 3. Image 4. Image 5. Image 6. Image 7. Image 8. Image 9. Image 10. Image 11. Image 12. Image 13. Image 14. Image 15. Image 16. Image 17. Image 18. Image 19. Image 20. Image 21. Heroes’ Square with the Millennium Monument (author)………………………. 22 Close up of Millennium Monument: Chief Árpád (author)……………………... 22 Letter to the Mayor of Budapest (“The 100-Year-Old-Nyugat” Exhibit – Petőfi Literary Museum)………………………………………………………… 62 Cover of the first issue of Nyugat, January 1, 1908 (Nyugat Digital Archive – National Széchényi Library)…………………………………………………….. 67 Secessionist Nyugat cover January 1, 1910 (Nyugat Digital Archive – National Széchényi Library)…………………………………………………….. 67 1925 Nyugat cover as hallmark of the magazine (Nyugat Digital Archive – National Széchényi Library)…………………………………………………….. 67 Anna Lesznai’s cover, February 1, 1911 (Nyugat Digital Archive – National Széchényi Library)………………………………………………………………. 67 Cover page of my Nyugat copy………………………………………………….. 69 Back page of my Nyugat copy……………………………………………………69 Poster for Nyugat’s Charity Fundraiser Matiné for Blind Soldiers, 1917 (Nyugat Digital Archive – National Széchényi Library)………………………... 71 Poster for Nyugat Authors Reading Series, 1918 (Nyugat Digital Archive – National Széchényi Library)……………………………………………………...71 Nyugat advertising poster from 1925 (Nyugat Digital Archive – National Széchényi Library)………………………………………………………………. 71 Official Nyugat postcard, Secessionist design, 1910 (Nyugat Digital Archive – National Széchényi Library)…………………………………………………….. 71 Cover of the last Nyugat (Nyugat Digital Archive – National Szécheny Library)………………………………………………………………...78 Cover of the first Magyar Csillag (photocopy of original from the National Széchényi Library)………………………………………………………………. 78 Bound Nyugat copies on the shelves (back wall) of the NSL (with permission of the National Széchényi Library)………………………….. 284 Nyugat commemoration Internet homepage of the NSL http://nyugat.oszk.hu/index.htm (Nyugat Digital Archive – National Széchényi Library)……………………………………………………………... 284 Bronze relief of Gábor Halász (with permission of the National Széchényi Library)……………………………………………………………... 286 Ernő Osvát: Collected Works; a photo of Osvát (with permission of the National Széchényi Library)…………………………………………………….286 Photo of Kosztolányi surrounded by his manuscripts (with permission of the National Széchényi Library)…………………………………………………….286 Photo of Kaffka surrounded by her manuscripts (with permission of the National Széchényi Library)…………………………………………………… 286 iv Image 22. Image 23. Image 24. Image 25. Image 26. Image 27. Image 28. Image 29. Image 30. Image 31. Image 32. Image 33. Image 34. The entrance of the Petőfi Literary Museum on Károlyi Street with the Nyugat exhibit posters on the façade…………………………………………… 289 PLM’s “The 100-Year-Old Nyugat” exhibit logo……………………………… 289 My Nyugat exhibit ticket with “photo permission”……………………………. 289 The “Welcome Note” and József Rippl-Rónai’s painting of Osvát (“The 100-Year-Old-Nyugat” Exhibit – Petőfi Literary Museum)…………….. 290 Móricz’s editorial desk at Nyugat (“The 100-Year-Old-Nyugat” Exhibit – Petőfi Literary Museum)……………………………………………...291 Bookcase with the publications of the Nyugat Publishing House (“The 100-Year-Old-Nyugat” Exhibit – Petőfi Literary Museum)……………. 291 Kosztolányi-panel (“The 100-Year-Old-Nyugat” Exhibit – Petőfi Literary Museum)……………………………………………………….. 293 Panels of Ady, Ignotus, and Karinthy (“The 100-Year-Old-Nyugat” Exhibit – Petőfi Literary Museum)…………………………………………….. 293 Wall covered with photo collage of Nyugat (“The 100-Year-Old-Nyugat” Exhibit – Petőfi Literary Museum)…………………………………………….. 295 Photos on the wall: top - Kosztolányi (far right) Babits, Osvát, and Gellért (front), bottom picture depicts Antal Szerb, and on the right Móricz and his wife (“The 100-Year-Old Nyugat” Exhibit – Petőfi Literary Museum)………………………………………………………………. 295 The “Nyugat 100 Bus” (“The 100-Year-Old-Nyugat” Exhibit – Petőfi Literary Museum)……………………………………………………….. 301 Visitors at the “Nyugat 100 Bus” (“The 100-Year-Old-Nyugat” Exhibit – Petőfi Literary Museum)……………………………………………………….. 301 Nyugat exhibit inside the bus (“The 100-Year-Old-Nyugat” Exhibit – Petőfi Literary Museum)……………………………………………………….. 301 v ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Many people have helped me realize this dissertation. I am indebted to my Committee at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver and I thank each of them from the bottom of my heart for their generous support and encouragement. Dr. Stephen Guy-Bray was everything I could have wished for in a dissertation adviser. He has been an inspiration, offering sharp and attentive guidance with utmost care and gentleness. His interest and enthusiasm for Hungarian culture and language have kept me in perpetual awe. Dr. Thomas Kemple has been the most ardent supporter of my work throughout my graduate studies. He gave me the initial and then the ongoing ammunition for perusing, probing and working through ideas, concepts and theories, and he also helped me find a way to make sense of my own Hungarian roots. His pedagogical sophistication and dedication to his students have been invaluable examples for my endeavour of becoming a teacher. Dr. Steven Taubeneck has been a wellspring of cerebral and emotional support. I consider myself to be among those fortunate students who have been able to count on his constructive criticism and sensitive judgment in and outside of the classroom. Dr. Lisa Coulthard has brought a keen eye combined with considerate attentiveness to my work. Her perceptive comments on the various chapters have made my dissertation stronger. With unabashed admiration and respect for my Committee Members, I thank them all for their unwavering belief in my project and me. I am indebted to Dr. Árpád Kadarkay, Professor Emeritus at the University of Puget Sound, Washington, for inspiring me through his profound studies of Lukács and I thank him for giving me confidence to pursue with my ideas. I also received lots of help for my research from experts in Hungary. I thank them all. My special gratitude goes to Dr. György Poszler of the Eötvös Loránd University, to Dr. Ágnes Kelevéz of the Petőfi Literary Museum and to the PLM staff in Budapest. I also extend gracious thanks to Ms. Annamária Sudár, Ms. Jolán Mann and vi Dr. Zsuzsanna Rózsafalvi for their kind assistance at the National Széchényi Library. I appreciate greatly the information provided by Mr. Károly Szabó of the National Library and Museum of Pedagogy and by Mr. Sándor Brassói of the Hungarian Ministry of Education and Culture in Budapest about Hungarian school curricula. I am grateful to Mr. Zoltán Mártonyi, editor-in-chief of megint nyugat, for sending me copies of the publication and revealing some of the aspects of the journal. My exceptional thanks go to Dr. Sándorné Irén Kovács for her guardian friendship. I also thank the Social Sciences and Humanities Council of Canada for awarding me with a two-year Ph.D. Research Grant, which helped me to enjoy a financially less stringent period during the writing of my dissertation and the University of British Columbia for enabling my studies. My fellow compliters, Desirée, Meliz and Nena, have helped make my study years special. Their comradery, emboulliant energy and the laughs and anxieties we shared over coffee will remain with me. Without the unconditional love, support and care of my parents, Edit and Tibor Vashegyi, and my husband Angus MacDonald, this dissertation would not have been possible. I thank them infinitely for their eternal goodness. vii INTRODUCTION Preparatory Notes In Hungary, 2008 marked the 100-year anniversary of the literary and cultural review, Nyugat. The word Nyugat translates as “West” and refers to Hungary’s cultural orientation in the twentieth century. Today in Hungary Nyugat ranks as the country’s greatest literary review and also as a cultural phenomenon. The review’s legacy is still visible: Hungarian streets, squares, libraries, and cafés are named after Nyugat writers, plaques on buildings and in parks commemorate people and events associated with the journal, and school curricula encompass many facets of it. There is also ongoing research in Hungary on Nyugat and its authors, yet outside of the country they remain relatively unknown. Most of Hungary’s intellectuals and artists of the first half of the twentieth century were part of Nyugat. Hungarian literary history refers to them as the “Nyugat nemzedék” [“Nyugat-generation”], and in turn for the purpose of my dissertation I adopt the name “Generation West” to describe the members of Nyugat. From its start in January 1908 until the final edition in August 1941, Nyugat nurtured over one-hundred and twenty writers, artists, and scholars who shared an appreciation of the modernist international and Hungarian cultural currents and contributed to them, each in their own way. Our knowledge about Nyugat and its authors is likely to remain incomplete and lifeless until we take steps to shed light on how they contributed to modernism in Hungary and elsewhere. I argue that twentieth century modern Hungarian literature and culture cannot be fully understood without recognizing the part Nyugat played in European modernism. To this effect, my position is that modern Hungarian literature and culture, under the auspices of Nyugat, are part of that Central European canon which had inaugurated and shaped some of the most influential and important contemporary literary and critical theories. 1 With this dissertation my ambition is to present an analysis of the Nyugat review in the context of modernity as it pertains to Hungary’s social, political and cultural transformation at the turn of the century. I focus on three authors of Nyugat and their main works, namely Margit Kaffka (1880-1918) and her novel Szinek és évek (1912) [Colours and Years, 1999], Dezső Kosztolányi (1885-1936) and his novella cycle Esti Kornél (1933) [Le double, 1967], and Antal Szerb (1901-1945) and his novel Utas és holdvilág (1937) [Journey by Moonlight, 2000]. After researching the figures of the Generation West, I have chosen to study these three authors because they represent eloquently both the similarities and differences the journal stood for and fostered. I focus on their works for the distinctive ways each addresses issues concerning the Nyugat-generation and Hungarian modernism in general, and how they engage the themes of travel and Budapest in particular. While Kaffka, Kosztolányi and Szerb are well-known authors in Hungary who wrote their novels when they were already highly regarded members of Nyugat, they are less read in Canada and North America. They, along with other Nyugat writers, grew out of and contributed to the traditions of the restless and homeless cosmopolitanism that had become a trademark of East-Central Europe. By expressing their own Hungarian experiences in relation to their generation in the semi-autobiographical genre of the novel, each author raises questions about identity (Hungarianness) and Hungarian modernity. As I show in the following chapters, Nyugat has come to epitomize the experience of Hungarian identity in which the notions of aestheticism, high culture and scholasticism are expressed through the themes of nationhood, nostalgia and commemoration. These themes serve as reference points not just for each writer’s search for selfhood but also for articulating the experience of identity understood in the context of a cultural problem. While these modernist subjects are not solely Hungarian, they articulate in distinctive ways what is emphatically pertinent to the Generation West. To this effect, the objective of my dissertation is to analyze and compare the many and divergent 2 approaches to Nyugat—primarily from Hungarian sources—and to the selected authors’ works in an effort to contextualize their contribution to modernism within and outside of Hungary. In turn, I consider my study a call for reworking models of literary and cultural history and for expanding existing epistemologies of modernism. Different aspects of Hungarian literature and culture have been examined in English across several disciplines. However, my dissertation addresses a topic that has not been well documented outside of Hungary and that is where the originality of my research lies. My aim in studying Nyugat is also to provide an interpretive framework for locating Hungarian in European modernism and elucidating what is distinctive about it. While there are hundreds of publications about Nyugat and its writers in Hungarian, many of which I draw on, there are very few studies in English relating or referring to Nyugat. 1 The existing English sources are good but few and they do not offer a broad perspective on the complexities that Nyugat represents. More studies are needed to gain a better insight into Nyugat’s influence on modernism, and within it Kaffka’s, Kosztolányi’s and Szerb’s pivotal contributions to Hungarian literature, and in turn world literature. Since my dissertation is not a comprehensive study of Hungarian modernism but rather an examination of one of its main components, I attempt to avoid an overemphasis on wellknown debates surrounding modernism in Western thought and instead offer a relevant discussion from the margins. My study is a contribution to and is inspired by comparative literature, a field that is largely rooted in East-Central European scholarship. In his 1877 article, entitled “The Present Task of Comparative Literature,” the AustroHungarian literary scholar, Hugo Meltzl de Lomnitz outlined the demands of the discipline that prospers on a “comparative method” as an “intellectual tool” (in Saussy 7-8). In the footsteps of Goethe who referred to the idea of Weltliteratur in response to the global expansion of texts in 1 I include a selective list of these works, among them Ph.D. dissertations, in Appendix A. 3 different languages which had become widespread in the 1820s, Meltzl de Lomnitz designated “the principle of polyglottism” and translation as representations for the discipline which sets itself against the model of national language and literature studies (in Saussy 8). For Meltzl de Lomnitz comparative literature ought to consider wider aspects of literary studies, arguing that “without ethnological considerations…the literatures of remote regions could not be fully understood” (56). The “principle of polyglottism” for Meltzl de Lomnitz comprised Hungarian as one of “ten languages” necessary for all comparative studies (in Saussy 8-9). By including Hungarian, argues Haun Saussy, comparative literature has severed the link between related languages, ancestors, and cultures because Hungarian is part of an entirely different language group: “science will have to suspend its allegiance to genealogical reasoning and take its bearings from reports of contact or similarity…Hungarian [therefore]…opens comparative literature to being something other than a science of origins” (8). In this respect, a small nation like Hungary ought to adopt a comparative perspective in order to negotiate between its own (literary and cultural) traditions, external influences, and broader contributions. As the Hungarian historian István Rév argues, “Hungary is a hopelessly monocentric country, where Budapest is the only real urban center on a European scale, where everything happens in that single city. Either you lived in Budapest…or you did not live anywhere else” (4). Hungary maintains a conscious historical “mission in the Carpathian Basin” with a “traditional cultural superiority over the neighboring ethnic groups,” based on centuries-long traditions that claim liberty as well as the “iron laws of historical progress” (7). Hungarians are often seen as “an Oriental people whose destiny was to become European and to act as the guardians of the West” (Makkai xiii). Yet Hungary remains uncategorizable, and despite its efforts it continues to be marginalized in the global arena. New “taxonomic categories” may be necessary for today’s cultural definitions (Rév 7). With respect to language, the Australian literary critic Andrew 4 Riemer suggests that “perhaps because Hungarians speak a language practically without affinities with any of the major European languages, Hungarians have always been obliged to be more outwardlooking than those of us fortunate enough to live in one of the great linguistic communities of the world” (10). Although Hungarian “has no recognizable relationship with other European languages” (Czigány 12), the Magyar mother tongue [magyar anyanyelv] is not just a marker of otherness but above all a rallying post for keeping the Hungarian nation together. Treading water in the sea of pan-Slavic, Turkish, and German languages Hungarians have preserved their traditions and cultures by insisting on using their own language. Hungarian is classified as belonging to the Finno-Ugric languages, similar to Finnish and Vogul, which are part of the larger grouping of Ural-Altaic (Czigány 12-13). Contact with other groups of people, such as Turkish, Slavic, Latin, and Germanic throughout the centuries has resulted in the incorporation of many of their words into Hungarian. While Hungarian etymology is a “tricky business” (Czigány 13), a Finno-Ugrian source has been “successfully proven” by “the structure of the grammar,” “suffix system,” and “a common Finno-Ugrian stock of words which follows a regular pattern in the various shifts of vowels and consonants” (13). Hungarians’ language and literature kept them connected despite their many different individual attributes as a people. Relatedly, cultural historians Balázs Trencsényi and Michal Kopeček caution that “trying to understand [Hungary] merely from the standpoint of [its] internal referential systems is a limited enterprise; while trying to explain them from an ideal-typical ‘Western perspective’ is an oversimplification” (15). With this point in mind, I join them in searching for a “middle way…to place these narratives of identity in a more encompassing…setting,” where I can negotiate “the internalization of the ‘external’…[in order] to point out the complexities of the formation of cultural identity” (15). The Nyugat-generation seems to correspond to this notion of a “middle way,” which can be seen as an interstitial position. Most Hungarian scholars describe members 5 of Nyugat as “being in-between” [“köztes állapot”]: in-between the values of the traditional and the modern, East and West, nation and the individual, and feudal and bourgeois (cf. Kenyeres; Pomogáts; L. Rónay). Similarly, Homi K. Bhabha has developed the notion of “in-betweenness” with reference to race, class, gender, nation and community. These categories are contained in the interstice, the in-between space which allows for “cultural hybridity” and refuses “imposed hierarchy” (4). While Bhabha focuses on postcolonial spaces mostly in the Third World today, his metaphor of “bridging the home and the world” (13) is useful for my purposes in describing the Generation West. I draw on his articulation of the “subject positions” in cultural difference as located in “‘in-between’ spaces” (1). In-betweenness ought to be understood as designating “new signs of identity” (1), exactly the mode of being which the Nyugat-generation experienced a century ago. Bhabha sees Goethe’s concept of world literature in particular as a “prefigurative category that is concerned with a form of cultural dissensus and alterity” (12). Dissensus and alterity are also two important characteristics that define the members of Nyugat in early twentieth century Hungary. But instead of presenting in-betweenness only thematically and semantically, I wish to emphasize its significance from a syntactical approach as one of continuity and interconnection. In my dissertation I elucidate some of the moments, events and processes in the history of Nyugat from a variety of sources and approaches. The accumulation of source material with regard to the Nyugat journal presents itself as a genealogy, but with the caveats in mind which I have already noted by Saussy above. Michel Foucault’s ideas on “genealogy” provide me with some methodological principles in developing this approach. In this regard, my objective is not the “pursuit of the origin,” but from a genealogist’s perspective I want to examine and “recognize the events of history” (80), specifically with reference to Nyugat. We ought to understand the context in which Nyugat grew as a “profusion of entangled events” which 6 necessitates a “historical sense” (Foucault 89-90). Along similar lines, Foucault’s essay stresses the notion of “emergence,” which he characterizes as an “entry of forces” that “occurs in the interstice” (83, 85). This idea denotes the concept of “in-betweenness” which I elaborate with regard to the mutual experience of Nyugat members. I want to highlight those moments when Hungarian literary modernism was able to proliferate in the spatio-temporality of the interstice. What makes Nyugat a special phenomenon is the number of genuinely talented writers, poets, and artists culminating in a marginal cultural-geographical location within roughly a thirty-year period, which is largely unmatched by any other literary currents. To study such a phenomenon requires what Foucault calls “relentless erudition” (77). Nyugat authors from the start were legendary in Hungary, and seen as having a vatic spirit that blurred the outline of an origin but offered instead a lasting legacy. In attempting to sustain such a relentless erudition my contribution to and inspiration from comparative literature prompt a methodology of a “genealogical” study of Nyugat. While comparative literature allows me to compare and contrast simultaneously the heterogeneous array of literary texts and languages at hand up close, my additional background in sociology fosters a method of homologies. That is, the structural resonance between the different elements that make-up the socio-cultural and historical between literature and society as mediated by writers where literature is the driving force and/or represents the conscience of a social group. To this effect, I shall tease out the tension between similarities, differences, parallels and oppositions within and among the works at hand and point out their vast heterogeneity, with modernism understood as the tertium comparationis. The Nyugat review and the selected works I study by Kaffka, Kosztolányi and Szerb offer a new and more nuanced understanding of Hungarian literature and culture, and of modernism more generally, than has usually been recognized. My hope is that Nyugat and the Generation West become household names in English-speaking 7 scholarship. I have accessed the material published in Nyugat in their original hard copies, and also through the online catalogue Nyugat folyóirat (1908-1941) – elektronikus változat, that is, the Nyugat Electronic Database, produced by the National Széchényi Library of Hungary. While I was unable to access some of the primary and secondary texts because they are out of print or unavailable in libraries and archives, the sources I draw on provide a diverse documentary basis for my study. The primary source materials, the Nyugat review and the selected works by Kaffka, Kosztolányi and Szerb are originally in Hungarian. I also make use of the English translations of Kaffka’s Szinek és évek and Szerb’s Utas és holdvilág, as Colours and Years and Journey by Moonlight, along with the French translation of Kosztolányi’s Esti Kornél as Le double. All other translations, which are not available in English or French, are mine. I also regularly take the liberty of translating through paraphrasing. The origins of my interest in choosing to write about Nyugat is partially that I have known about the review ever since I can remember. I grew up in Hungary when one could not miss the significant stamp of language and literature on daily life. My mind and body have been steeped in the spirit of Nyugat. The body, in Michel Foucault’s words, represents the “domain of the Herkunft,” of origin in the sense of emergence, which has developed from “everything that touches it: diet, climate, and soil” (83). I had read the works of many Nyugat authors in and outside of school. Kaffka, Kosztolányi and Szerb had a deep influence on my early literary experiences. Even now, when doing my doctoral research, they trigger vivid recollections of my life in Hungary. As an expat living in Canada for many years, I still conjure memories of my encounters with Hungarian literature that ground my worldview. While feeling a sense of belonging and loss at once, I have become Canadian and the Hungary I used to know has undergone globalization in the wake of communism’s collapse. Origins and double-identities 8 become intertwined in my own experience. The Nyugat writer and Kaffka’s contemporary Anna Lesznai, who immigrated to the United States, helps me express this insider-outsider standpoint: I lived intensely within it, and yet I also had the objectivity of the outsider. The very position of the outsider forces one to become an observer and recorder of events because one’s fundamental situation is ambiguous. One is inside but is still a foreigner and thus has sharper eyes. (in Gluck, GL 74) My “ambiguous” standpoint as a Hungarian in Canada, therefore, is a component of how I frame my dissertation and how my research arises from such experiences. Beginnings Most scholarship considers Vienna as the centre of modernity’s artistic and intellectual developments in Europe with Freud, Schnitzler and Schönberg as leading figures (see Beller, Hanák, Schorske). As the American historian Steven Beller puts it, “Vienna at the beginning of the twentieth century was the birthplace of a major part of modern culture and thought which forms the basis of our consciousness to this day” (1). But as the contemporary Hungarian literary theorist Zoltán Kenyeres asserts, the political, economic and cultural region of East-Central Europe has never had a definite self-awareness and self-knowledge. This lack of selfconsciousness is “one of the typical marks of East-Central Europe” (Kenyeres 25). Despite Oskar Kokoschka’s famed definition of East-Central Europe as a “cultural commonwealth” (20), referring to the similar spiritual and mental make-up of people that developed through their common fate in struggles, especially artists of this region, people hardly knew each other, their traditions and customs. Kenyeres explains this point by suggesting that “East-Central Europeans have always looked to the West or to the Far East for inspiration but never at each other” (25). They have never considered it worthwhile to learn about each other. Carl Schorske calls EastCentral Europe the “Epimethean culture” in his Fin-de-Siècle Vienna. He posits that there, 9 people tend to look backward instead of forward, and to turn inward rather than outward (xxiv). They do not have a picture of the future, nor do they see a hopeful path out of misery, and they eschew utopian thinking. And yet the emergence of a common cultural denominator, what Beller explains as “the revival of a Central European identity based on the cultural golden age of the Vienna-Budapest-Prague triangle,” can be recognized (8). What East-Central Europeans wanted was to “live life by artistry, to be like artists; this was their ideal and desire which was entirely in opposition to the realities they experienced” (Kenyeres 26). The geographical triangle of ViennaBudapest-Prague provides the axis points of East-Central Europe, but with no real centre. The region has always been more of an ideological phenomenon than a material locus and, as the American historian Mary Gluck points out, “Vienna 1900 has become a cultural paradigm precisely because of its complexity…The real question is not whether it constitutes a paradigm or not, but rather, how we can understand the nature of the implicit relationship between its different component elements” (“Afterthought” 266). We appreciate its familiarities only now, in hindsight, and see it as the more or less unified community of East-Central Europe. To this effect, it is exciting to realize that “a large part of the birthplace of modern thought lay behind the Iron Curtain” (Beller 6). With the fall of communism such legitimacy has become easier to claim in Hungary and the Czech Republic. As I argue with reference to the Nyugat-generation, and in this case with tongue-in-cheek, most people in this region have always been aware of their contribution to modernism but have not always touted it. The works of Nyugat authors I engage with in my dissertation are cherished and revered literary texts in Hungary, which express not a valiant or extravagant side of Hungarian literature and culture, but rather an authentication of the resilience and sophistication of Hungarian identity. With a manifestly Hungarian emphasis, these works illuminate a passionate Hungarian worldview that reflect both cosmopolitanism and tradition, urban and rural cultures, while being 10 astutely aware of their in-betweenness. They also follow in the tradition of the tumultuous twentieth century as the culmination of anxieties and identities that developed from the fin-desiècle political, social and artistic turns of Central-Europe. Their immediate forerunner can be located in Hugo von Hofmannsthal’s 1902 “The Letter of Lord Chandos” in which he laments the crisis of language in failing to convey actual experience and thus to renew the cycle initiated in the earlier European grand epoch with Goethe’s Wilhelm Meister. While Goethe’s hero in the late 1790s looks into the future with hope and optimism, by the late 1800s the first signs of cultural fragmentation became evident. Hofmannsthal’s “Letter” was the first of its kind to chronicle the phenomenon of “fragmentation as [an] essential part of reality not just of the arts” (Kenyeres 8). As I have pointed out with reference to Schorske’s study of Viennese culture, artists in Vienna did not revolt against the new bourgeois class as their contemporaries had in Paris or other parts of Western Europe. Instead they turned against and/or away from the monarchical rulers to (re)claim the project of modernity. Hofmannsthal portrays his fictional character, Lord Chandos in the early 1600s, as an allegory for the social crisis between the old social order and the new literary and artistic movements in turn-of-the-century Austria, in which the latter had begun to clamour for change. Not social or political relationships, but the individual’s own experiences became central in “The Letter,” as Philip Chandos confides to Francis Bacon in 1603: “In those days I, in a state of continuous intoxication, conceived the whole of existence as one great unit” (132). But this original sanctity of nature and human beings is breaking down in front of Chandos and he bemoans how, through a revelation, he has arrived at a profoundly new level of experience: “I have lost completely the ability to think or to speak of anything coherently…For me everything [has] disintegrated into parts, those parts again into parts…” (133-34). Bourgeois liberalism arrived in East-Central Europe later than in Western Europe, and consequently so did the process of democratization. This delay also brought with it a 11 speeding-up of fast capitalist development and the ensuing crisis of liberalism, creating a much more conscious and self-aware ideological and historico-philosophical discourse and movement. As Hofmannsthal posits, Lord Chandos is in “an inexplicable condition” (140), which György Lukács in his 1964 essay “The Ideology of Modernity” sees as a result of separating time “from the outer world of objective reality [so that] the inner world of the subject is transformed into a sinister, inexplicable flux and acquires—paradoxically, it may seem—a static character” (204). This foregrounding of the subjective over the objective social experience also signals the loosening of the subject’s relations to the world, creating a more superficial and insecure, a socalled slippery reality (das Gleitende) (cf. Kenyeres 8-9). The Nyugat review in turn-of-thecentury Budapest grew out of this modernist crisis surrounding language, literature, the arts, philosophy, psychoanalysis and sociology. In Chapter One I first offer a brief historical overview of Hungary from the 1867 Consolidation to its place in the Dual Monarchy, with Budapest as the locus of the Hungarian Millennium events. By comparing Budapest and Vienna as progressive central cultural spaces, I provide a context for understanding the underlying elements that allowed the formidable development of print culture from which Nyugat grew. I draw on Benedict Anderson’s Imagined Communities to help explain conditions in Hungary which fostered concepts of nation specifically with regard to print culture. I discuss how and why members of Nyugat were looking westward in order to define themselves. The notions of both East and West play an important part in the experiences of the Nyugat-generation and their sense of “in-betweenness.” By drawing on Robert Wohl’s and Karl Mannheim’s theories, I also explain how the Nyugat writers can be understood to form a community and a chain of generations interlinked by their precursors, founders and realizers. I briefly survey the history of literary magazines in Hungary and elsewhere in Europe and North America to compare the form, content and structure of the 12 Nyugat review. Editors of Nyugat defined their publication as “szemle,” that is a “review” which I interchangeably also refer to as a journal, magazine and periodical throughout my dissertation. A significant part of this chapter includes the history of Nyugat from its beginnings in 1908 to 1920, its middle period in 1920-1930, to its dissolution from 1930-1941. I also elaborate on the life stories of some of its members, many of them Jews, in order to present a glimpse into successive generations of Hungarian society, culture, and politics. I contextualize conceptions of literary modernism in Hungary, and emphasize that Nyugat did not initiate modernism in Hungary but rather tapped into an already existing trend while propelling it in a particular direction. I argue that with Nyugat, literature in Hungary reached the zenith of modernism and high culture en par with Western Europe in the first half of the twentieth century. Chapter Two looks at the first period of Nyugat through the writings of Margit Kaffka. I begin with a short overview of women authors and the feminist movement in Hungary at the turn of the century, highlighting some of the similarities and differences between Hungarian and other Western women’s movements. Here I point to the significance of women writers and their role in forming modern Hungarian literature and link those ideas to the women authors of Nyugat. One of the most important woman representatives of the early period of Nyugat was Margit Kaffka. I engage with a selection of her works in Nyugat and explicate the symbiotic influence between the author and other members of the journal. Kaffka’s early death left a gap in the contribution made by Hungarian women writers, and her legacy, although well preserved by Nyugat, had begun to diminish. Kaffka’s most accomplished novel, Szinek és évek [Colours and Years], is a prime example of the feminist modern novel. In analyzing the novel I draw on Roland Barthes’s concepts of the narrative code to explore how the reflexive narration of the novel is permeated by the memories of the heroine, Magda Pórtelky. Colours and Years is Kaffka’s semiautobiographical work and it depicts a transition from the traditional values of the gentry to the 13 new values of the bourgeoisie that affected her generation, providing us with a distinctive view into fin-de-siècle Hungarian social structure and culture from which Nyugat formed. Chapter Three encompasses the first, second and partially the third period of Nyugat through the figure of Dezső Kosztolányi. Kosztolányi’s expansive influence covers a linguistic revival and an aesthetic emphasis on literary style and content that the journal also benefited from. I depict Kosztolányi’s role in Nyugat as a bohemian artist, and by doing so I also offer a view into the early twentieth century bustling metropolis of Budapest in which the magazine thrived. World War I, the Republic of Councils and the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy are some of the important points of reference in the poems, short stories, and novels that Kosztolányi published in Nyugat. As translation was one of Kosztolányi’s main interests, I draw comparative analyses between his concepts and those of other scholars, including Walter Benjamin who has examined the translator’s task. Kosztolányi’s novella cycle, Esti Kornél, which he wrote between 1925 and 1936, portrays the author’s double in the grotesque but also compassionate figure of Kornél Esti. I analyze the narrative structure of the novella by making use of the heterogeneous perspectives found in Hungarian sources and emphasize how Kosztolányi’s attentiveness to language and aestheticism affected the discourse of Nyugat. Here I also draw on psychoanalytical concepts along with existentialist themes from Nietzsche concerning the individual, and Derrida’s model of language as a structuring force. Since this publication is not available in English, I translate parts of the original Hungarian text and rely on the French translation, Le double: les récits funambulesques de Kornél Esti. Finally, I show how Kosztolányi’s work has been highly influential on Hungarian modernism in general, and on the Generation West and later writers in Hungary in particular. Chapter Four explores the second and third period of Nyugat through Antal Szerb’s works, and the younger generation of writers at the journal who took their cues from Kaffka and 14 Kosztolányi. As a literary historian, Szerb affected Nyugat’s critical, theoretical, and scholarly scope. His treatises on Magyar irodalomtörténet [The History of Hungarian Literature] and A világirodalom története [The History of World Literature] are considered seminal studies of modern literary history that reflect a paradigmatic turn in Hungarian scholarship. These books also fostered a mutual bond between Szerb and Nyugat. Drawing on the German school of intellectual history (Geistesgeschichte), psychoanalysis, and György Lukacs’s philosophy, I discuss how Szerb produced a decisive grounding of modern literary studies in Hungary under the aegis of Nyugat, and how his theoretical concepts contextualize his fictional works. His novel Utas és holdvilág [Journey by Moonlight], based on the autobiography of his adolescence in Budapest, engages the concept of nostalgia through a travel in Italy with the rise of fascism in the background. Nostalgia serves as both the structuring element of the novel and also as the embodiment of the main protagonist, Mihály, and for its analysis I make use of Lukács’s The Theory of the Novel. I also discuss how the many layers of literary allusions Szerb employs promote a unique form of intertextuality that marks out a textual stratification of linkages between author/hero and preceding literary figures. I contend that these linkages refer to the ideas of generation and genealogy which resonate throughout Nyugat. Finally, I point out how Szerb and members of Nyugat have become part of the Hungarian collective memory, a premise that serves as segue into my final chapter. My last chapter is not merely a conclusion that summarizes my previous analyses, but is rather a discussion or a comment on the Nyugat heritage today in Hungary. I advance my analysis of the journal by examining the 100-year anniversary celebrations of Nyugat that took place in Hungary in 2008 in an effort to produce a convincing explanation of how the periodical left a lasting legacy in and impression on Hungary and what it might mean for world literature. To this end, I draw on Maurice Halbwachs’s theory of collective memory along with Paul 15 Connerton’s concepts of commemoration and remembering. I also contextualize the course of Nyugat’s legacy during the last sixty years and discuss attempts to continue Nyugat by other journals. I elaborate on how during the centennial year numerous events commemorated Nyugat and its authors, including the compilation of online and electronically collected databases of all the issues of the Nyugat journal. Finally, I focus on the Nyugat centennial exhibit held at the Petőfi Literary Museum in Budapest. Museum theory, along with concepts of commemoration help me link the findings with my personal experiences at the museum exhibit and the broader themes addressed in this dissertation. I discuss how and why the reasons for this elaborate celebration and ongoing veneration of Nyugat promote Hungarian literature and culture and in turn perpetuate modernism. In closing, I rearticulate the hopes and aims which have inspired my study by carving out a location for Nyugat and the Generation West in European modernism and world literature. While the phenomenon of écrivain engagé is certainly not exclusively Hungarian, a peculiar bond between society and artist can be said to be unique to Hungary. Literature plays a special role in Hungarian culture, in part by acting as glue that holds the nation together. Writers and poets are the counselors and healers of Hungarians. In fact, there has been “an almost unbroken succession of poetic apprenticeship and shamanistic inheritance; older poets acting as mentors and welcome influences of younger ones,” as the American poet and scholar Frederick Turner explains (117-18). Today, especially in North America, it is difficult to understand how a community of writers and artists from a small nation in East-Central Europe could stir such a profound and influential literary and cultural movement under the aegis of a journal. My dissertation aims to tell this story. The array of writers and the variety of articles published in the Nyugat journal are so vast that, in the words of the Times Literary Supplement, “[a] full critical assessment of Nyugat would mean narrating the whole story of modern Hungarian literature” 16 (1109). Indeed, the material of Nyugat seems almost impenetrable. So instead of offering an allinclusive study of Nyugat and the Generation West, which would require the writing of more than one dissertation, I embark on examining key aspects of Nyugat and three of its authors, thereby making its material more accessible for English language scholarship. To this effect, I see my work not as exhaustive or complete, but rather as an invitation to solicit future discussions about Nyugat and twentieth century modern literature in Hungary. My study also offers a way of understanding Hungary’s present in light of its recent past, so that contemporary literature and cultural practices that might otherwise appear strange or evident, trivial or complex, can be re-evaluated. Edward Said notes that “a work’s beginning is, practically speaking, the main entrance to what it offers” (3). If we understand the beginning as an active process rather than a passive state then the question of whether or not there is a “privileged beginning for a literary study” (6) can be answered with our movement through time frames, places, and events “from present to past and back again, from a complex situation to an anterior simplicity” (29). Beginning is also selfreflexive. Following Said, I suggest that “a beginning is a moment when the mind can start to allude to itself and to its products as a formal doctrine” (42) while also acknowledging “the perpetual trap of forced continuity” (43). Siding with Said in “not believing that any beginning can be located,” or that at least beginnings can be understood as indicating “a later time, place, or action…[and] a consequent intention” (5), I place my project on a continuum which stretches from fin-de-siècle Hungarian culture to its post-Communist counterpart while allowing what happened in between to play in the background. I prefer to see beginnings as continuities and with this notion in mind I set out to look at the beginning or numberless beginnings and discontinuous continuations of Nyugat. 17 CHAPTER ONE The Austro-Hungarian Monarchy and the Modernization of Budapest I begin with a brief historical overview of the turn-of-the-century Austro-Hungarian Monarchy in order to contextualize the Nyugat review as a conveyor of the conditions of cultural modernity in Hungary. Hungary began a swift socio-economic transformation from a predominantly (feudalist) agrarian to a semi-industrialist society in the late 1800s at a time when Western Europe had already been transformed from industrialism to monopoly capitalism. This transformation in Hungary is considered to be a delayed but not a singular phenomenon, since other regions of the Austrian Monarchy, the Russian Empire and Spain also experienced deferred industrialization. What instigated these changes was the 1867 Compromise by which Hungary became an equal part of the Habsburg Monarchy. The Compromise, as the British historian Bryan Cartledge explains, “gave Hungary a launching pad from which to develop the attributes of a modern European state” (248). Unlike the English word that originates from the Latin “compromissum,” “compromise” is translated as “kiegyezés” in Hungarian and “Ausgleich” in German, each containing the preposition “out” and the adjective “equal” or “same” which indicates an agreed parity. The Compromise for both Hungary and Austria meant the affirmation of an imperative relationship of mutual dependence. Now both nations were at last able to achieve their own distinct sense of identity, although Hungary was often still viewed as Austria’s other, or even its imitator. At the turn of the twentieth century, Austria-Hungary was considered the “very core of Europe, and not simply geographically” (Fenyő, LP 1). This notion prompts a comparison between the two capitals, Vienna and Budapest, in terms of their socio-cultural development. As Steven Beller notes, Vienna is seen as the “spiritual capital and symbol not only of itself but of the whole region of which it had been cultural—and political—head” (6). After Paris, the 18 bohemian art and cultural centre of Europe in the late 1800s, Vienna flourished as a cultural temple and as an aesthetic and psychological hub, but with a politically alienated new bourgeoisie (Beller 3). Péter Hanák explains that with the building of the Ringstrasse in the 1860s, which served as a divider in place of the old demolished city wall, Vienna acquired a new urban structure that fostered a new social and cultural milieu (12). Urban restructuring was necessary with the sudden growth of population in Vienna, which rose from less than half a million in the mid-1800s to 1,342,000 by 1890 (Hanák 11). Artistic, educational and social institutions clustered along the imposing ring-shaped boulevard, giving the city “a sense of historical authenticity, greatness, and dignity,” which also served as a “communal binding force, and a sense of home,” while separating the “haute bourgeoisie from the quarters of the…working classes” (12). Along the Ring, the Viennese bourgeoisie developed a particular ability to shape new identities. Mary Gluck contends that we have come to see turn-of-the-twentieth-century Vienna as “a generalized vision of modernist culture, based on a particular theory about the relationship between aesthetics and politics” (“Afterthoughts” 264). This vision is largely due to Carl Schorske’s seminal 1961 book, Fin-de-siècle Vienna, which established a whole repertoire of cultural concepts for modernism. Gluck suggests that Schorske’s hypothesis ties Vienna’s political and social developments to a pronounced aesthetic culture in which the children of the bourgeoisie were able to cultivate their subjectivity and psychic experiences. Schorske describes the Wiener Moderne as a particular mode of urban reconstruction and aestheticism for the authentication of the bourgeoisie and their independence from the aristocracy. The Austrian bourgeoisie gathered around the Ringstrasse and immersed themselves in the “garden of art” (302), fictional or real, in order “to refract the problem of relating cultural values to a social structure in transition” (280). Theirs was a “high bourgeoisie unique in Europe for its aesthetic 19 cultivation, personal refinement, and psychological sensitivity” (298). However, the Austrian bourgeoisie faced socio-political problems and needed a cure for their political impotency, which resulted in resignation. As Schorske argues, “the cure is Bildung, the training of the character in a holistic sense” (281). The genre of the Bildungsroman, to which Adalbert Stifter’s utopian Der Nachsommer belongs, was cultivated by several writers to help the Austrian bourgeoisie regain certain “realistic elements” in their everyday lives (Schorske 281). The “novel of development” depicted their heroic progression out of a feudal-imperial adolescence into adulthood and their own liberated identity. Schorske places great value on the idea of Bildung and suggests that it defined the “public ethos of liberal Austria” by penetrating “deeply into the private sphere” (296). Stifter’s novel had a pedagogic aim and he saw the greatest task of the state in the education of the masses. His novel presented the Austrian, and especially the Viennese bourgeoisie with “a model for personal fulfillment in a cultivated and refined life of ethical perfection” (Schorske 293). Such aestheticism, coupled with a form of political isolation that grieved about how to go on living in a disintegrated world, challenged liberalism and provided the context for the birth of modernism. Schorske’s historical study located the centre of aestheticist modernism in turn-of-the century Vienna. However, recent scholarship about fin-de-siècle Vienna challenges Schorske’s metaphorical treatment of the period as a retreat into the garden. Rather than advance claims about the originality of modernism, Gluck argues that “the modernist aesthetic project has come to appear as deeply implicated in the political values, commercial relations, and social practices of the world of bourgeois modernity that it denounced” (“Afterthoughts” 268). Like Gluck, I want to show how modernism was a heterogeneous phenomenon in Hungary within the sociopolitical context of the Dual Monarchy. To this effect, as Hanák argues, I note that there are two main cultural differences between Vienna and Budapest: one, the Hungarian new bourgeoisie 20 “solved its identity problems not by withdrawing from the national community but by revising the concept and idea of a nation…[along] with the program of transforming the whole society in a radical, democratic way” (xvi). Second, the ideas of the “national and universally human aspects were not severed or opposed to each other” (xvii). The bourgeois class of Budapest in 1900 was more parvenu and less established than the old Bildungsbürgertum and Besitzbürgertum of Vienna. The Budapest bourgeoisie were often seen as members of a “semibarbaric country” (Schwartz, SV 6). Nonetheless, they were more capable of breaking free from monarchical ideals and habits than their Viennese counterparts. Vienna’s new bourgeoisie, artists and intellectuals secluded themselves in their gardens, and retained a sort of Baroque cultural sensibility combined with their enthusiasm for the theatre, music and eroticism, which they now confirmed in part through the innovative discipline of psychoanalysis. In contrast, the younger and more eclectic bourgeoisie of Budapest did not withdraw into any gardens but “looked to the questions of the future, society, and reform; they wanted to set about building a new Hungary, through art, literature, and culture” (Hanák xxiii). Although modernist developments in Budapest were delayed by a couple of decades, it is important to emphasize that both Vienna and Budapest “affected Europe overall,” which, as Hanák notes, “underlines the argument that the turn-of-the-century cultural boom was by no means an outgrowth of the decaying Monarchy” (64). Hungarian sensibility was also heightened by the Millennium celebration. 1896 was the one-thousandth year anniversary of the Magyars settling [honfoglalás] in the land that is now called Hungary (Cartledge 60; Engel 96). The 1867 Compromise was a necessary prelude for the Millennium because it re-established Hungarians’ sense of autonomy, even if it was within a united dominion. The celebrations were concentrated in the capital city of Budapest (cf. Gerő), and they aimed to express “the immutability of the Hungarian concept of 21 state…[the] consolidated state existence, which enjoyed a full existence at one time…[and hence was] to be immortalized and made visible,” explains Kálmán Thaly of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in 1882 (in Gerő 182). To ensure that this concept of consolidation and responsiveness would have a lasting expression, a yearlong celebration was held to include festivals, the launching of the first underground train on the continent, and the creation of memorial sites that gave history a sense of aesthetic permanence. The most colossal among these was the Millennium Monument. Though its construction began in 1896, the Monument was not completed until 1926. The finished Monument, erected on Heroes’ Square [Hősök tere], is comprised of fourteen individual statues of outstanding Hungarian leaders from the settler Chief Árpád to the 1849 Regent-President Lajos Kossuth, and includes two statue clusters representing the seven tribes that founded Hungary with Archangel Gabriel installed on the top of an obelisk. In addition to the Monument, the historic glory of Hungary as a nation was celebrated with many grandiose events of the Millennium which continued into the early 1900s. 1. Heroes’ Square with the Millennium Monument (today) 2. Close up: Chief Árpád leading the Magyars In the fever of the Millennium celebrations the capital had acquired a medley of architectural styles with the original buildings of the Renaissance and the Baroque now mixing with neo-Gothic, neo-classical, and Jugendstil (Molnár 227). The movements of the Modern Style (Britain), Art Nouveau (France) or Jugendstil (Germany) between 1890-1910 had a common purpose: to make art, architecture and design part of the everyday. They constructed 22 buildings with ornaments and ornamental lines based on organic, vegetative or geometric designs which renounced past styles and building forms (Speidel 7). The counterpart of this movement in Austria was known as Sezessionsstil, and in Hungary as Szecesszió [Secession]. The Viennese art director Max Burckhard first used the word “secessio” after the people of ancient Rome who broke with the city and left for the holy mountain in their protest against the patria’s domination (secessio plebis in montem sacrum) (Kenyeres 30). Such a folk-inspired movement caught Burckhard’s attention in the midst of the Viennese artists’ attempts at self-realization with the support of the bourgeoisie. The main motifs of the Viennese Sezessions-Stil are geometric forms, mainly the square, which were influenced by Charles Rennie Mackintosh from the Glasgow School of Art (Sterk 11). Generally, though, the forms were limited to decoration and restricted to the outer skin of the building. At the same time, Hungarian architecture moved towards reconnecting the nation’s past with its folk traditions and the East, where Hungarians’ ancestors originated, and in turn to bolstered the country’s burgeoning national pride. The internationally recognized Vienna Sezession did not have many followers in Budapest, despite the proximity of the two cities. The most characteristic attribute among Budapest architects was versatility. As Balázs Dercsényi explains, “they explored the peasant architecture of the mountainous countryside, investigated materials, functions and structural solutions, copied the ornaments on the houses and things of everyday use and made sketches of the remarkable shapes of the roofs” (102). They transformed the capital, modernizing and beautifying the city and allowing it to emerge from its “provincial state” (Gerle 114). No Hungarian architect epitomized the Szecesszió style more successfully than Ödön Lechner. Inspired by a variety of sources such as Hungarian folk art, the AustroHungarian Romanesque, sculptural symbolizing and organic scrolls, Lechner’s style is Art Nouveau to the extreme, as exemplified by the Museum of Applied Arts in Budapest. Lechner 23 and his followers produced architecture that was both “modern and national” (Ferkai 17), and their works embodied a language of form by initiating the inclusion of folk art ornamentation as part of an aspiration for creating a national capital worthy of the Magyars. But for Westerners Budapest remained a “provincial city filled with exoticism, the capital of a backward Eastern and semi-feudal district. The border between Austria and Hungary was the frontier of Western civilization” (Fenyő, LP 2). Against these notions, I want to demonstrate that Budapest was one of the cultural centers of the Habsburg Empire, along with Vienna and Prague, completing the geographical triangle of East-Central Europe. In 1873, Budapest was inaugurated by combining three separate towns: Óbuda, an ancient settlement, Buda, the royal seat, and Pest, a small town of peasants, craftsmen and fishermen (Molnár 227). Budapest’s Millennium construction expansion was influenced by the Viennese affinity for arranging the cityscape along boulevards. According to Hanák, the “urbanization of Budapest did not lag behind Vienna’s in any way” (12). Along with the rise of population from 270,000 to 1.1 million between 1869 and 1910, the number of buildings grew from 9,300 to 17,000 in Budapest (Hanák 12). Many of the new buildings and their inhabitants concentrated around the new boulevards, Nagykörút [Grand Boulevard], Sugárút [Radial Road], or as it now known Andrássy út [Andrássy Road], and Kiskörút [Small Boulevard], that is, Ferenc and József körút [Franz and Joseph Roads]. The construction of the 4.5 km Nagykörút began in 1871 and was completed in time for 1896 (Hanák 12). It links Buda and Pest, the inner and outer districts of the capital. As Hanák argues, the Nagykörút is similar in nature to the Ringstrasse, but instead of its “‘divisive’” effect in Vienna, it has a binding effect (13, 14). In contrast to the Ringstrasse’s imposing buildings, the boulevards in Budapest are crammed with apartment buildings, offices, stores, workshops, a railway station and numerous road junctions and intersections, and most importantly for my purposes, countless coffee houses. Such structures combined and blended the 24 various classes and ethnicities of the population rather than separating them. The changing cultural scene and the cityscape mutually influenced the transformation of Budapest. By 1910 Budapest had become an exultant symbol of urbanism and bourgeois progress comparable with the grandeur of Vienna. In the wake of the Compromise and Millennium, Hungary, with Budapest as its fulcrum, began its swift transformation from a primarily feudal to a semi-capitalist society where intellectuals, many of them Jewish, created a vibrant cultural milieu. Budapest became a “national space” for Hungarians and for the many assimilated minorities in Hungary, all of whom could participate in this “deliberate process with a nationalist end” (Gerő 175). Nationalization also meant assimilation, whereby a large portion of the population became assimilated to Hungarian culture. This tendency is an important fact, because in spite of the growing number of urban middle classes, over 20 percent of them were born abroad (Glatz 13). Historians argue that “the identity of the Hungarian ‘half’ of the Habsburg ‘whole’ was far better defined than that of its other components…the Magyar sense of identity was respected” (Molnár 209; cf. Cartledge 276-87). The Hungarian proponents of the Compromise, such as Ferenc Deák and Count József Eötvös, 1 emphasized in their charters the idea of Hungarian “self-conscience” [“önlelkiismeret”]—the responsibility to maintain Hungarian identity and independence in the legacy of the nation’s founding fathers—in an attempt to distinguish Hungary from Austria and from Eastern Europe (Kosáry 414). Half of the population in the Dual Monarchy was neither Hungarian nor Austrian. These ethnicities, including Croat, Slovak, Swabian, Romanian, Serb, and Jewish, often suffered from negligence and marginality. Deak’s famous Nationalities Act of 1868 gave protection to the various ethnicities that were citizens of Hungary, but their 1 Ferenc Deák (1803-1876) was a Hungarian politician and the leader of the delegation of the Compromise. Count József Eötvös (1813-1871) was a Hungarian writer, statesman and education reformer. Along with Deák, he was the chief proponent of the Compromise in Count Gyula Andrássy’s cabinet. 25 parliamentary representatives rejected the Act (Cartledge 277-78). Comparably, already during the 1848-49 Revolution and War against the Habsburgs, Lajos Kossuth, in recognition of their support, “proclaimed the emancipation of the Jews” (Kadarkay 8), and then in 1867 the parliament passed Eötvös’s bill, establishing equal rights for Jews in Hungary. The 1867 liberalizing measures “acknowledged and encouraged the increasingly important role of Jews in the life of the Hungarian nation and their growing assimilation into the Magyar community” (Cartledge 271). In particular, liberal political and cultural institutions encouraged assimilation and even the ennobling of many ethnic Jews in Hungary, who not only learnt the Hungarian language and customs, but also Hungarianized their names (cf. Fenyő LP; Kadarkay; Cartledge). Hungarian nationalism had to succeed within the multi-ethnic Austro-Hungarian Empire, where the elite relied heavily on Jewish financial backing for maintaining political liberalism. Along with its Magyarising aims, the 1867 Compromise also enabled the liberal democratization of Hungary at the end of the nineteenth century. Around the late 1890s, conservative forces emerged and demanded more attention to the project of nationhood, mostly through emotional appeals and references to the tradition of Hungarian ancestors and the pastoral times of the medieval period. Their efforts were decidedly anti-capitalist and reactionary; they idealized the dispossessed gentry as the embodiment of Hungary and guardians of Hungarian culture and language. The great landowners, the aristocracy and the gentry outnumbered the bourgeois class in power and influence as representatives of Hungary in the Parliament (Fenyő, LP 15). As Gluck explains, the signs of breakdown began to show with new right-radical nationalists of the gentry class, anti-Semitic mass movements, and Slavic nationalists assuming a powerful voice against Hungary’s liberals. But this trend was not unique to Hungary because at the same time conservative ideologies also came into fashion 26 across Western Europe (Gluck, GL 56). Under the leadership of Mayor Karl Lueger, 2 Jews in Vienna faced increasing discrimination. As Paul Hofmann explains, “Lueger’s Christian Social Party proclaimed itself the advocate of the little people who resented corruption in City Hall, the power of industrialists and the banks, and Jewish influence in business and cultural life” (142). Meanwhile, Hungary pressed on with “Magyarising policies,” which aimed at incorporating the ethnic groups, especially the Jews, thereby ensuring their “loyalty to the Hungarian state,” primarily through the use of Magyar as the official language (Cartledge 279). While antiSemitism in Vienna had become widespread by the early 1900s, during the same period, Jews became the most assimilated and protected in Hungary within Europe (see Cartledge 273). Any anti-Semitic movements were quickly extinguished, following the legacy of Kossuth who considered such infractions a national shame. Until the early 1930s when fascist pogroms made their way into Hungary, Jews enjoyed equality, feeling “at home in the haza [homeland], as much as one with their Christian Magyar compatriots, as much [a] part of the great important cultural entity in Europe” (Cartledge 273). Among all the ethnic groups of the country, the Jewish population became the most Hungarianized, and it enjoyed the most integrated existence within Hungary. Bryan Cartledge’s demographical survey shows that the Jewish population in Hungary “grew from 343,000 in 1857 to 407,800 in 1859, to 624,700 in 1880 and to 910,000—8.5 per cent of the total population—in 1910” (270). Data that I have found in the Magyar Statisztikai Évkönyv 1909 [1909 Hungarian Statistics Yearbook] also indicates that based on birthrate the Izraelita [Jewish] population increased threefold by 1900 (17). In fact, the majority of the Jewish population lived in Budapest and comprised 23 per cent of the inhabitants of the capital city by 1910. A large proportion of Hungary’s Jews had gained dominance in the growing 2 Karl Lueger (1844-1910) was the Mayor of Vienna from 1897-1910. His notorious anti-Semitism gave ammunition to Adolf Hitler’s concept of Jew-hatred. 27 manufacturing and banking areas, many of them as the most patriotic members of Hungarian society who were often ennobled for their work and loyalty. Some of the well-known Jews in millennial Hungary were the bankers Zsigmond Kornfeld, Mór Wahrmann, Ármin Brull-Biró, industrialists Péter Herzog and the Ganz and Goldberger families, ministers József Szterényi and Baron Samu Hazai, and the cinema pioneers György Czukor and Mihály Kertész, scholars Ármin Vámbéry, Gyula König, and Gyula Szekfű just to name a few (cf. McCagg). 3 They were indisputably significant agents of Hungary’s modernization, gaining powerful positions beyond their numbers compared to any other country, and eager to assimilate into Hungarian culture (see Cartledge 271). The Jewish upper-middle classes took on an important role in urban cultural development and contributed to the “emergence of talent in Hungary” which intensified “interdisciplinary cross-fertilization and fermentation” (Fenyő, LP 6). As the HungarianAmerican historian Mario D. Fenyő argues in his Literature and Political Change, Jewish and part-Jewish intellectuals and artists represented a “relatively homogenous stratum” (7). However, interaction between Jewish and non-Jewish Hungarian artists and scholars became prevalent in certain groups. According to Fenyő, “the ethnic factor was not a cause, but a symptom” (LP 7); thus “the explanation of the prominence and achievement of these groups of individuals…is to be sought not in their ethnos, but in their ethos” (LP 6). A remarkable collaboration of Jewish and non-Jewish Hungarians represented a decisive element in the Hungarian socio-cultural turn in the wake of the Compromise. Likewise in Vienna, Steven Beller argues, Jews similarly played a large role in the development of that city’s modernist culture (7). While the linking of Jewish traditions as a major influence on modern Viennese culture “threatened to make Vienna 1900 only a special instance of [a] larger phenomenon” (Beller 9), in Hungarian society it gained a manifest 3 For further names and references to Jewish Hungarians please see William O. McCagg, Jr. Jewish Nobles and Geniuses in Modern Hungary. New York: Columbia University Press, 1972. 28 momentum. According to Mary Gluck, Jews played a “disproportionately large role in the modernization of Hungary…[where] by the late nineteenth century, Jews made up 5 percent of the total population of Hungary but supplied 12.5 percent of the industrialists, 54 percent of the businessmen, 43 percent of the bankers and moneylenders, 45 percent of the lawyers, and 49 percent of the doctors” (GL 58). Traditionally the Hungarian aristocracy and the gentry occupied these professions, and so for them, and “in the eyes of much of the population, Jews inevitably became the symbolic representatives of capitalism, and the living embodiment of all the alien, destructive tendencies of the modern world” (Gluck, GL 58). On the other hand, in her “The Budapest Flâneur: Urban Modernity, Popular Culture, and the ‘Jewish Question’ in Fin-de-Siècle Hungary,” Gluck questions how large a role the Jews might have had and contends that Budapest Jews were for the most part invisible. She examines the Budapest Jewish culture through a discussion of Adolf Agai’s collection of vignettes, entitled Voyage from Pest to Budapest, 18431907, and argues that although the Jewish presence in Budapest was an undeniable fact, “many Jews experienced, and continue to experience, their situation as if they were invisible” (4). The invisibility of Jews is a paradoxical phenomenon that causes problems for Jewish identity. Gluck sees this issue as indicative of an “alternate conception of self and culture that constituted a subversive subtext to the liberal ideology of Jewish emancipation and, ironically, deflated celebrations of Jewish acculturation…Jewish Budapest was ‘invisible’ precisely because it did not, could not, and would not envision Jewishness as a distinct religious, ethnic, or national identity” (4). In this shadow of invisibility, upper and middle class Jews often lived “double lives as patriotic citizens and as ironic flâneurs” (19). The subcultural world of entertainment provided a recovered identity for many Jews, often in the guise of humour and transgression. It is important to stress here that the creation of an ethnic identity also went along with the conception of a language community of culture in Hungary. To this effect, Hanák argues that 29 “the Hungarian spoken by the assimilated Jews was…mixed and represented a…characteristic way of speech” which blended “Yiddish with literary German, and then with Hungarian words” (50). Cartledge explains that the Jews in Hungary, unlike the various Slavic ethnic groups, “had no reason to resist the adoption of the Magyar language as their own; on the contrary, assimilation into the culture of the nation that had now accorded them equality of rights seemed logical and the natural road to advancement” (271). One could be Jewish and Hungarian at once, linked by language. Jewish writers, figures of culture and politics occupied a special position, and can be seen as having a bi-cultural identity. The contemporary Jewish-Hungarian writer György Konrád explains that “what a Jew writes is Jewish literature, but it can also be Hungarian or other national literature” (178). This double identity further entails being part of a larger community: “Being Hungarian in Europe means not being alone. It means that among a hundred Europeans of various national persuasions we can expect a few Hungarians as well…Being European in Hungary means learning biblical democracy, in other words, that we are equals in every situation” (15). For Konrád, as for many Jewish Hungarians, then and now, one identity does not exclude the other. A dual identity, Hungarian and Jewish at once, locates difference in sameness, but in a way which is at odds with the prevailing view of nationalism. I wish to emphasize the possibilities of this bi-cultural identity and formulate it as part of the concept of in-betweenness that many members of the Hungarian artistic and intellectual circles experienced. I will elaborate on this notion further below and in subsequent chapters. In contrast to the Austrian view then, I propose to see the Hungarians of Budapest—Jews and non-Jews—especially writers and artists, as having recognized the demise of bourgeois developments and various political crises at the turn of the 1900s. They expressed those observations in works which were driven and inspired by the radical changes of Hungarian 30 society and which were seen by forward-looking politicians and intellectual figures of the Compromise as guiding lights. The Hungarian comparatist László Ferenczi argues that modern Hungarian literature…emerged against a background that was far from [being] intellectually isolated, introspective or backward-looking; it was an open environment, which looked to the future and was able to incorporate foreign influences in a sovereign manner. The environment was one in which the works of Marx, Nietzsche, Ferrero, Bergson and Freud were known to every educated man or woman. (125) In part due to Hungary’s delayed yet all-the-more rapid socio-cultural transformation, divergent currents from Symbolism, Naturalism, to Art Nouveau, Impressionism and Futurism seemed to have arrived in the country simultaneously. In the early 1910s, Budapest was host to international exhibits of works by Picasso, Kandinsky and the Italian futurists (Ferenczi 125), and translations of poetry by Russian and Belgian Symbolists, German Expressionists, and others were published in several collections. Many artists and intellectuals of Budapest, like those in Vienna, Prague and Berlin, had experienced what Fenyő called, a “process of cross-fertilization,” realized by the cultural figures of these cities who moved among them (LP 4). However, it cannot be considered “simply [a] coincidence that a certain group of intellectuals gathered in Budapest at a particular time. Nor is it sufficient to argue that all the creative activity that ensued was simply fermentation due to a certain lack of barriers…between the sciences and the arts” and between ethnic backgrounds (Fenyő, LP 4). What made these developments possible was partially the emergence of the liberal political institutions in the wake of the Compromise. These institutions encouraged and “favored a certain type of cultural development” (LP 5). This historical and cultural context enabled the foundation and operation of many new journals and magazines in Hungary, among them the Nyugat journal, which in turn further fostered the idea of an independent Hungary and the modernization of culture. Cultural and artistic fermentation took place most often in the ubiquitous coffee houses of Budapest. In the early 1900s, there were over six hundred coffee houses in Budapest, more than 31 in Vienna during the same period (Cartledge 299; cf. Fenyő, LP 2; Saly; Schorske). These cafés were part of what Cartledge describes as “the new splendour of the capital, with its boulevards… its vibrant intellectual and cultural life [that was also] reflected in the theatres, concert halls and cabarets” where men and women met (299). They discussed art, politics and literature to a degree that affected not only Hungary but also the world. Among them were artists, scholars, poets and writers who became known as the “Nyugat-generation,” the contributors of the Nyugat magazine. In search of new ideologies and means of expression, they met daily in such coffee houses as Central, New York, and Bristol along the boulevards (Fenyő, LP 2). Sipping coffees and cognac, savouring confectioneries or a dish of paprikash, and smoking thick cigars while playing cards and chess, they enthusiastically debated and exchanged ideas, encouraged and inspired each other. Most authors wrote their key works in these establishments. They, in effect, lived in these cafés, forming a cultural community ripe with aspirations for a new and better world. Coffee shops catered to their clients’ needs not only with food and drinks; they also carried most Hungarian and European newspapers and magazines, writing pads, pens and ink, called “kutyanyelv” [“dogtongue”], books and dictionaries. Patrons ran tabs and waiters frequently lent money to them in view of their forthcoming published pieces. Frigyes Karinthy, one of Nyugat’s chief contributors, coined the term for the coffee shop clientele—including himself—as “Homo Caffeaticus Litterarius” (PLM Virtual). The experience of these writers and artists is not comparable with that of today’s pseudo coffee house culture where dispersed individuals sip grande lattes and tap on laptops. Although, my description may well exoticize and hyperbolize the milieu of these coffee shops in Budapest, it is clear that they held a significance for artists and intellectuals. To support my point I draw on Fredric Jameson’s observations on the differentiation of ideology. In his “Preface” to Marxism and Form, he argues that we must “reorder” and “restructure” our awareness of “the historical present,” the “modern society” we 32 live in (xvi). Our thinking has gone through a “new politicization” (xvi) compared to the reality that existed prior to World War II. The early 1900s was characterized by “a simpler Europe and America which no longer exists” (xvii). I also want to emphasize Jameson’s point that the twentieth century “had more in common with the life forms of earlier centuries than it did with our own” (xvii). While I agree with Jameson that “it was a world in which social conflict was sharpened and more clearly visible” (xvii), I also see within such a seemingly homogeneous society complex forces which play a mitigating role in the relationship of these individuals to their world. In the next section I examine the concept of generation in relation to the members of the Nyugat magazine and how the impact of print media developments transformed the society, its writers and artists along with the reading public. Generation, Nation and Print Media In his sweeping survey of The Generation of 1914, Robert Wohl asserts that until the early twentieth century the term generation denoted the dichotomous relationship between older and younger people living approximately at the same time, such as fathers versus sons. “Generational consciousness,” however, had developed as a result of a new understanding of time and change already evident in the late 1700s (Wohl 204). Wohl explains that an accumulation of conflict between fathers and sons, where sons began to see their fathers’ values as oppressive, was not the only cause of ensuing generational consciousness in Europe. Rather, by the late 1800s the “weakening of traditional forms of social identification and a growing sense of collective (as opposed to individual or local) destiny,” along with the fading of “regional and religious differences,” the participation of the masses in politics, the uniformity of fashion through faster means of manufacturing and communication, the encroachment of national languages over dialects, standardization of public education and cityscapes—modeled after 33 Haussmann’s Paris—and the growth of print media all played important roles in the development of concepts about generation (207). Wohl considers “the rise of generational consciousness” as a “side effect of the coming of mass society” (207), which operated en par with the “premise that youth was a superior and privileged stage of life, beyond which lay degeneration” (205). A sharing of age and common destiny shaped the consciousness of this generation, and a new century fostered their sensibilities to see themselves as distinct. According to Wohl, people born between 1880 and 1900 represent the particular generation that was able to break most seriously from their fathers’ generation by recognizing and responding to an overarching “sense of discontinuity” that was lurking at the threshold of the fin-de-siècle (207). Sons of the aristocracy and the new bourgeoisie were now attending the same schools and developing intellectual interests together while demanding social and cultural change. They embodied a “specific social group: literary intellectuals” along with philosophers, sociologists and psychoanalysts such as Freud, Bergson, Weber, Mannheim, and Pareto (Wohl 208, 212). Furthermore, Wohl contends, the “generation of 1914,” named after their shared experiences of World War I, was a self-promoting and self-describing cohort of intellectuals, a “project of hegemony over other social classes that derived its credibility and its force from circumstances that were unique to European men born during the last two decades of the nineteenth century” (209). This young generation’s idealism, grievances, and sense of rupture from their forefathers’ world ushered in a new culture with a new worldview. They saw themselves as different and unique, but most of all, as a generation. Theirs was the generation of modernity. What ties people together in a generation? The Hungarian-born sociologist Karl (Károly) Mannheim suggests that a generation is like a location in society. Following August Comte, Mannheim explains that “the average generation period [is] 30 years” (277). In his seminal essay 34 from 1928 “The Problem of Generations,” Mannheim provides a historical outline and sociological method for interpreting the concepts behind the notion of generation. Mannheim argues against adopting a “unilinear conception of progress” when defining generation, and suggests, after the German philosopher Wilhelm Dilthey, that the problem of generations is “the problem of existence of an interior time that cannot be measured but only experienced in purely qualitative terms” (281). A generation denotes an experience of people of similar age living together at a given time. To express this abstract notion, Mannheim envisions a utopian society encompassing an “ideal type” where only one perpetual generation exists with none of its members dying. But what happens when, as in reality, many generations live within a same time period? Mannheim explains that “each generation builds up an ‘entelechy’ of its own by which means alone it can really become a qualitative unity…the unity of its ‘inner aim’— of its inborn way of experiencing life and the world” (283). Generation for Mannheim therefore is not a compartmentalized order, but constitutes rather a perpetual flow with dialectical influences. While Mannheim does not base or apply his concepts on an existing society, they are helpful for our understanding of how Nyugat writers represent the culmination of a particular Hungarian generation in a given time, place, and intellectual context. As I understand Mannheim’s thesis, the experience of a generation is bound by a particular spatio-temporality: “Members of a generation are ‘similarly located’…in so far as they are exposed to the same phase of the collective process” (297). In this regard, the Nyugat-generation at the turn of the twentieth century was located in such a way that they all experienced Hungary’s rapid social and cultural transformation, from feudalism to modernity, from within a political, geographical and cultural place. As Mannheim argues, it is not that “people are born at the same time, or that their youth, adulthood, and old-age coincide” at a given location, that makes them into a generation (287); rather, it is a similar location that allows these people to “experience the same event and data,” 35 which Mannheim defines as the “phenomenon of the ‘stratification’ of experience (Erlebnisschichtung),” or “a similarity [of] ‘stratified’ consciousness’” (297). This “stratification of experience” is what made Nyugat writers into a generation, which then provided the basis for the formation of subsequent literary generations. Mannheim’s concepts help me make sense of the generational phenomenon Hungarians conceptualize as the “nyugatosok” [“westerners”] or the “Nyugat nemzedék,” [Nyugat-generation”] which I call in turn the “Generation West.” The Generation West was comprised of the creators and members of the Nyugat review, and lasted a little over thirty years, from 1908 to 1941. Indeed, Nyugat encompasses and embodies a full generation under the parameters of Mannheim’s model. In the early 1900s Hungarian society was “hybrid”: it was “neither wholly feudal nor wholly bourgeois, [and yet] seemed to have broken the continuity in the western tradition,” as the Lukács historian Árpád Kadarkay explains (102). Young intellectuals and artists in turn-ofthe-century Hungary, like elsewhere in Europe, wanted radical change in culture and a society that was distinguishable from that of their forefathers: The unsociable sons, rejecting family and society, congregated in circles whose erotic and ascetic values ripened into new wants that collided head-on with social values. These angry sons, each of whom felt his life defaced and disfigured, and his human experience embittered, were convinced that a new culture could be born out of their own unsociability. (Kadarkay 60) These Hungarian intellectuals, many of them Jewish—and in the eyes of Christian Hungarians were therefore “overdeveloped” for Hungarian society—sought a resolution to their desolation (cf. Kadarkay 60). They met at coffee houses or gathered in groups, such as Lukács’s Vasárnapi kör [Sunday Circle] at Balázs’s apartment in Buda, or the more science-driven Galileo Circle, and the Bembe Circle 4 whose members identified themselves as avant-garde, Fauvist and 4 The acronym “Bembe kör” [“Bembe Circle”] stood for Budapest’s first Bolzano Circle, named after the Italian Catholic priest, mathematician and philosopher Bernard Bolzano (1781-1848). It was spearheaded by Jenő Varga 36 Freudian. Their main purpose was to find an alternative to the Hungarian cultural and social milieu, which they saw as lagging behind Western currents. They looked for a “cultural rebirth and integration”; they wanted to liberate their own souls from the spiritual crisis of official Hungary (Gluck, GL 12, 64). By 1908, most of the writers, artists and intellectuals who joined Nyugat witnessed the end of relative political stability in the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy’s liberal hegemony and the beginning of ever-worsening constitutional, political, and social conflicts which would eventually lead to the end of the Monarchy in 1918 (cf. Gluck, GL 44). The late nineteenth century seemed “excessively negative” for them with its “cerebral and individualistic temper,” and political liberalism and positivism seemed to be outdated models of praxis (Gluck, GL 5). This young generation of artists and intellectuals longed to “live once again in a harmonious and integrated culture” (8) and were convinced that the rebirth of culture would “give rise to a new, synthetic culture of the twentieth century” (9). In order to hasten in this new period, they sought to establish solid norms and secure their ethical idealism within a current of metaphysical spirituality. In her study Georg Lukács and his Generation 1900-1918, Mary Gluck links the portrait of Lukács’s generation with larger historical forces in a way that helps me expand my argument about the Generation West. Within a heterogeneous group—based on class, wealth, status, occupation, and ethnic origins—what is characteristic collectively across almost all of the Nyugat-generation is what Gluck describes in defining Lukács’s generation: “longings for unity, affirmation, inner truthfulness, and simplicity, after what they perceived as the excessively negative, cerebral, and individualistic temper of the late nineteenth century” (GL 5). Lukács and many of his peers along with other Nyugat members were “the children, or at most the grandchildren, of humble Jewish peddlers, artisans, shopkeepers, and merchants; and memories (1879-1964) and the Freud discussions were conducted under the auspices of Sándor Ferenczi (1873-1933), one of Freud’s disciples and the founder of the Budapest Psychoanalytic Society (Kadarkay 61). 37 of their common past were not entirely erased from their consciousness” (GL 47). Moreover, they defied their parents’ values, especially their bourgeois urban comfort and laissez-faire liberalism, and against these values sought salvation in messianic or metaphysical beliefs. They rejected and were estranged from their parents’ generation, which considered them unreliable and “untrustworthy” (GL 65). Instead, they shared a “mood of hopefulness” that seemed to comprise “contradictory elements, held together by a passionate, almost eschatological…despair and elation” (GL 5). They also rejected the “dualism between body and soul,” and intended to “integrate the physical and the spiritual in a life-affirming totality” (GL 6) while comprehending their life through a “nostalgic awareness” of the past which they used as an “instrument of criticism against the present, as well as a model of integrity and synthesis for the future” (GL 7). The new intellectual attitude they created, based on the ideologies of a synthesized culture, often had its roots in pristine and primitive folklore, such as folk music, tales and crafts, and yet they did not transplant those directly into their own works. What they retained and captured from their upbringing was their own childhood, and their youthful rebellion against parental authority. As Gluck argues, it is not the revolt against their parents that is peculiar to Lukács’s generation, because “that is characteristic of most young children. What is noteworthy is that they carried over these impulses and intuitions into adult life; that they chose these particular details as the defining characteristics of their early worlds and as the measuring rods of their mature cultural strivings” (GL 68). I want to avoid any misleading impression concerning the infantile character of Lukács and the Nyugat-generation that Gluck’s argument might prompt. With reference to these notions, what I intend to show more closely in the works of Kaffka, Kosztolányi and Szerb in the subsequent chapters is how the “irrational, magical attributes of childhood” (GL 68) constitute a powerful force in the intellectual and artistic output and identity formation of their generation. 38 Indeed, the idea of generation was born out of the need for a collective identity. Wohl’s concepts about the generation of intellectuals in the early 1900s help us further understand the Generation West’s experience: The generation of this age group had been brought up to revere the nation and to believe that the interests of the national community stood above the interests of classes or any international body. Their ambition, conceived in youth, had been to overcome the ideologies of the nineteenth century, to revive the spirit of adventure and risk, to live for the values of the spirit rather than for material advantage, and to combine the virtues of the warrior and the man of faith. They were radical in their dislike of the industrial and commercial civilization of the present, but deeply ambivalent about the values of the preindustrial past. (231) The Generation West experienced these anti-bourgeois impulses and cultural crises of their age, which they addressed in theoretical and literary writings. For them, as for other Europeans, moral and intellectual values were over-determined by economic and social factors. Theirs was a difficult task which, following Wohl’s argument, can be seen as “the transition from an elitist to a mass and bureaucratic society, while at the same time resigning themselves to the relative shrinkage of the power both of their own nation in particular and of Europe in general” (235). Although education was a determining force in the transformation of this generation’s way of thinking, the ideals they further developed about a new culture, however, were not part of the school curriculum. This small group of the elite operated at once as both a cultural workshop and a social forum with Nyugat embodying their stratified generational consciousness. It was a workshop of language and literature, where writers and editors worked as a community drawing up new interpretations of literary criticism, style, method, and discourse. Mutually influencing and inspiring each other, they changed the Hungarian language by ridding it of its clunky and provincial structure, grammar and vocabulary, which I shall elaborate on in relation to the works of Kaffka, Kosztolányi and Szerb. Hungarians have adopted and implemented this modernized 39 manner of speech and writing ever since. Mannheim’s analysis is all the more helpful then when we consider his suggestion that “only where contemporaries definitely are in a position to participate as an integrated group in certain common experiences can we rightly speak of community of location of a generation” (298). Such a fertile environment was the forum where contributors of Nyugat fought for independent critical thought, debated issues of social and artistic conflict, and gave expression to a new cosmopolitan national identity parallel to the efforts of Western European intellectual and artistic circles. A concern with cultural legacy was part of the experiences of the Nyugat-generation. That is, they were shaped by the Hungarian way of life, by traditions, attitudes and feelings that were particular to Hungarians within the overarching influence of the Habsburg Monarchy. Mannheim’s description can enable us to further see how this generation negotiated its existence within such a context: “Experiences are not accumulated in the course of a lifetime through a process of summation or agglomeration, but are ‘dialectically’ articulated” (298). In fact, these experiences are enacted and tried out through participation, and specifically through what Mannheim calls the “participation in the common destiny” which binds together the “historical and social unit” of generation (303). The Generation West experienced a common bond “by their being exposed to the social and intellectual symptoms of a process of dynamic de-stabilization” (303). Their aim was to transform Hungarian society and culture once and for all. Mannheim cites Heidegger in explaining the “qualitative relationship” that situates “‘the inescapable fate of living in and with one’s generation [that] completes the full drama of individual human existence’” (282). Generation West, as I have suggested before, was not a homogeneous unit. Each member represented and aligned him or herself with divergent movements, political parties, and classes. What held them together was a common goal and a belief in their collective fate 40 which they sought to realize through the reform of literature and culture. For this task, literary magazines served as the means for expressing themselves and conveying their views to readers. Earlier I referred to how Hungarian nationalism had gained prominence through the use of the Magyar language. Now I shall elaborate on this argument by pointing out the importance of print media. I make use of the concept which Benedict Anderson calls “imagined communities,” and I adopt his argument with regard to print culture against what Ernest Gellner says about nationalism and nation. In his influential Nation and Nationalism, Gellner suggests that the invention of industrial society plays the key role for the development of a society’s selfconsciousness. While education and culture are essential to a nation’s self-recognition, Gellner contends, their functionality is dependent on state politics and sanctions: “nationalism emerges only in milieu in which the existence of the state is already very much taken for granted” (4). In this way, he addresses the concept of “one state and one culture,” which is preceded by industrial development. In opposition to Gellner’s argument which interlinks nationalism and production, Anderson emphasizes the ambiguity around the definitions of “nation,” and he interprets nation and nationalism as “cultural artefacts of a particular kind” (4). Anderson’s argument includes and also supersedes Gellner’s by focusing on print media. For Anderson, culture determines nation only insofar as the nation is “an imagined political community” where no members of any nation ever know all their fellow-members, but only “imagine” their existence and membership in their “community.” That is, “the nation is always conceived as a deep, horizontal comradeship” (6-7). Crucial to Anderson’s thesis is the “idea of simultaneity” to which the printing press in particular already gives rise from the fifteenth century on (24). It is with books and newspapers that people begin to conceptualize their everyday lives by imagining other human beings’ existence simultaneously; hence sameness and difference operate concurrently: No surprise then that the search was on, so to speak, for a new way of linking fraternity, power and time meaningfully together. Nothing perhaps more precipitated this search, 41 nor made it more fruitful, than print-capitalism, which made it possible for rapidly growing numbers of people to think about themselves, and to relate themselves to others, in profoundly new ways. (Anderson 36) Since print media depends on language, demanding and making a reading public that uses a particular language in a particular geographic location, such media facilitate new technological and capitalist developments while paving the way to imagined communities which share a national, ethnic and subjective consciousness. Anderson evokes exactly this imaginary condition with specific reference to Hungary in the 1700s and 1800s: “If ‘Hungarians’ deserved a national state, then that meant Hungarians, all of them; it meant a state in which the ultimate locus of sovereignty had to be the collectivity of Hungarian-speakers and readers” (82). The creation of a reading and speaking collectivity is of course not a solely Hungarian goal. The Canadian literary critic Louis Dudek explains how in England by the late 1700s the purpose of publishing, especially of newspapers and magazines, was “to disseminate useful knowledge among all ranks of people at a small expense” (98). People were “hungry for factual knowledge” which inexpensively mass-published rudimentary “digests of history, science, and practical arts,” such as the Penny Magazine (Dudek 98, 100). Before the present digital era, paper was a crucial medium of communication: “it was the main delivery system for radical ideas” (Heller 6). Beside paper and Gutenberg’s printing press, what made the mass-production of magazines possible in England and also in Hungary was the printing process called “stereotyping,” followed by “electrotyping” and “photo-engraving” which enabled on a largescale the reproduction of pictures and photographs (Dudek 90). As Dudek explicates, after the French inventor Claude Genoux’s stereotyping “wet matrix process” in 1828, the Germans further improved the mechanization of printing by using a “dry pulp” or “wood pulp” and adding “a printing plate made by electric deposition of a metal on a mold of…soft substance” (94). Newspapers and magazines also benefited from the development of photography in using this 42 halftone or screen method. By the late 1800s, magazines with colour images and photographs served general and specialized purposes to entertain and inform audiences of all classes. Technological developments led to fast and efficient rotary presses and paper made from wood pulp drastically reduced production costs, allowing for low-priced newspapers and magazines. A new kind of literary magazine, “the literary weekly,” began to be popularized in England during the second half of the 1800s, such as Thomas Carlyle’s and Walter Pater’s Athenaeum and J.F. Stephen’s Sunday Review, which were concerned not with publishing new literature but with “critical comment, reviews of books…and timely discussion” (Dudek 113). The interlinking of industrial developments, the extension of literacy and the creation of new reading markets, particularly in urban areas, promoted new conditions for writers and readers. What print media meant for Hungarians by the 1860s was a combination of civic liberty and nationalism which fostered “economic transformation brought about by industrial and commercial progress,” and which enabled the weak and diffident Hungarian middle-class to rise against the stronghold of the aristocracy (Molnár 226). They were the very readers or consumers of print media essential to the battle for national sovereignty and capitalist progress. As Anderson explains, following the anti-Latin and pro-German linguistic Hausmacht efforts of Emperor Joseph II’s and the linguist Ferenc Kazinczy’s5 Hungarian language reforms, Hungarian nationalism was in large part championed by literate people using Hungarian as their primary language. I want to emphasize also, following the Hungarian historian István Nemeskürty, that the Hungarian language, like all languages, articulates and manifests a certain way of thinking. While Hungarians today hardly have any biological or genetic links to the settling Magyars of the 800s A.C.E. (Nemeskürty 9), they share a sense of how their 5 Ferenc Kazinczy (1759-1831) was a Hungarian author and linguist. As a chief leader of the Language Reforms, Kazinczy coined, reformulated and revived thousands of words and expressions making Hungarian language applicable for contemporary science and literature. Through his efforts Hungarian became the official language of the nation, including the language of the Parliament, in 1844. 43 “gondolatkincs” or “treasure of thought” has been passed down to them and defined how they perceive and experience the world (17). The concept of the “treasure of thought” can be considered as the cerebral inheritance of Hungarians. To this effect, the spread of print-Magyar helped convey a particular way of thinking. As Anderson suggests, “the growth of a small, but energetic liberal intelligentsia all stimulated a popular Hungarian nationalism” (102-3) which, I suggest, was intertwined with the emancipation of Hungary’s Jewry. As I show in the following sections, Nyugat in this respect became a focal point for the Hungarian “imagined community” and epitomized the moment where popular vernacular converged with aestheticism, high culture and scholasticism. Readers in Hungary have enjoyed a variety of print media since the early 1700s, including several literary and cultural journals, many of them in German, some in the language of various ethnicities, and others in Hungarian. The Hungarian Electronic Library website offers a detailed overview of “The History of Hungarian Print Media” from as early as 1705. Accordingly, during the Hungarian Enlightenment and Jacobin Movement of the late 1700s such papers gained prominence as the Magyar Kurir, Magyar Merkur, and Der Mann Ohne Vorurteil. In the early 1800s the poet, Mihály Vörösmarty’s journal Tudományos Gyűjtemény [Scientific Collection] provided an outlet for writers, poets, and scholars along with Kritikai Lapok [Critics’ Papers], Athenaeum, and Felső Magyar Országi Minerva [Upper Hungarian Minerva]. During the Reform era new magazines appeared and promoted cultural progress, such as RegélőHonművészet [Stories of Homegrown Art], Pesti Salon [Pest Salon], and Jelenkor [Present]. By the late 1800s, most of these magazines had died out and were replaced by Szépirodalmi Közlöny [Literary Bulletin], Delibáb [Mirage], and the poet János Arany’s Szépirodalmi Figyelő [Literary Observer]. The increase in the number of newspapers and periodicals published in Hungarian from the mid 1800s until the early 1900s is remarkable with 65 such publications in 1862 rising 44 to more than two-thousand in 1907 (Keresztury 2). By 1900 in Budapest alone readers could choose from 21 daily newspapers, including Hungary’s first tabloid Az Est [Evening], in addition to many more papers and journals in German, Slovakian, Romanian and other languages (Cartledge 254). The press rallied around two distinct poles: conservative academic and bourgeois liberal with radical undertones (see Cartledge 299; Pomogáts 69). As such, the Budapesti Szemle [Budapest Review], Magyar Szalon [Hungarian Salon], and Vasárnapi Újság [Sunday Paper] were the most important papers of the first group, and Új Idők [New Times] and Magyar Figyelő [Hungarian Observer], and Szabadság [Liberty], Ország [Country], Budapesti Napló [Budapest Diary] represented the second (cf. Pomogáts 69). Huszadik Század [Twentieth Century], launched in 1900, was the first sociology journal and was considered a radical publication with György Lukács and Oszkár Jászi (editor-in-chief) on staff. Its left-leaning counterpart, Szocializmus [Socialism] was founded in 1906. These journals signaled not only the beginnings of modernism in Hungary, but also prefigured, separate from the Millennium celebrations, the nation’s rapid cultural transformation in the twentieth century (Tamás Gáspár 9). There were also several small but significant and often rather short-lived literary magazines, such as the 1890 A Hét [The Week or The Seven], from 1892 Magyar Géniusz [Hungarian Genius], from 1900 Új Magyar Szemle [New Hungarian Review], in 1903 Jövendő [Future], in 1905 Figyelő [Observer], and in 1906 Szerda [Wednesday], all of which can be considered as the forerunners of Nyugat. In 1908 Nyugat was one of an astounding 802 newspapers and periodicals regularly published in Budapest (Fenyő, LP 194). By 1910 a total of 1823 newspapers and journals were published across the country in Hungarian, out of which 59 were devoted to literature (Fenyő, LP 195). Nyugat was among the few which endured and fundamentally shaped modern Hungarian literature and culture. 45 Internationally, the early twentieth century saw the bourgeoning of new journals, magazines, periodicals and newspapers. As the American art director Steven Heller argues in his illustrated study of avant-garde magazines Merz to Emigre and Beyond, periodicals, due to their immediacy at the time, “served both as a channel for ideas and—in the spirit of Marshall McLuhan’s mantra of medium as message—as the ideas themselves” (10). These magazines disrupted the equilibrium of the body politic; they had a shock value where “print on paper could unlock passions, ignite emotions, and change the world, if only for brief moments” (Heller 10). Already in the mid-to-late 1800s, European “press freedom,” as Heller explains, “opened the door to an outpouring of illustrated magazines advocating social justice and cultural openness,” and were often manifestly comical or transgressive, including l’Eclipse, Le Mot, Simplicissimus and Jugend with “fanciful cover illustrations and mutating logotypes…[in] rebellion against entrenched, stolid artistic conventions (16, 18). The fin-de-siècle European cultural landscape was held by the opposing camps of the superficial belle-époque and the extremist avant-garde artists driven by angst and compassion. In monarchical Austria-Hungary such modernist journals as Ver Sacrum, founded in 1898, led by Gustav Klimt and published in an office in the Secession building in Vienna, vociferously challenged and attacked the established political order. The journal’s “unconventional square format,” according to Heller, “allowed enough image space for the artists to strut their wares” (31). In 1916 in Zürich, the artist collective known as Cabaret Voltaire drew instant attention. They created a magazine with the same name which synthesized Expressionism, Futurism, Cubism, and Dada, and literary modernism, experimental poetry, imagery and confrontational manifestos (Heller 52). In 1919 the French surrealist poet André Breton founded Littérature with Louis Aragon. Littérature was an outlet for experimental literature and it included “dream analysis and automatic writing” as a way of attacking “past artistic verities” (Heller 144). Across Europe during the first half of the twentieth century a large 46 number and a wide range of art, avant-garde, and literary publications existed. While my dissertation cannot survey them in further detail, I do want to mention The Gram edited by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, the French Revue Blanche, and the Russian Мир Искусство as intriguing contributors to literary magazine modernism (cf. Szabolcsi 15). Closer to Hungary, the Die Neue Rundschau was also an important journal for German-Austrian literature. And so was the Czech Moderni Život review. It was born in the Syrinx literary circle under the editorship of Karel Toman, Frantisek Šrámek, and Jaroslav Hašek in 1902, whose aim was to turn away from the older generations’ nationalist sentiments and pathos (Kenyeres 21). During the same time in the United States, literary magazines gained attention in highculture circles such as Ralph Waldo Emerson’s and Margaret Fuller’s The Dial (1840-44). As the American literary historian Frederick Hoffman suggests, experimental literary publications burst on the scene in 1912 with Harriet Monroe’s and Ezra Pound’s Poetry: A Magazine of Verse and the New York-based Margaret Anderson’s Little Review in 1914, which also gave the name to the genre: “little magazine” (2). A little magazine, as Hoffman defines it, “is a magazine designed to print artistic work which for reasons of commercial expedience is not acceptable to the money-minded periodicals or presses” (2). Editors and creators of these magazines gave license to artistic liberty and avoided censorship as their chief mandates, catering knowingly only to a limited group of people. The format of the little magazine, although not physically small in size, “helped generate the modernist poetics of fragmentation and collage by provoking reading strategies different from those applied to books” (Churchill 10). Hence they fostered new kinds of spatial strategies for writing and reading. Although each paper differed in form and content, what was common among them is that they were stimulated by “discontent,” “despair,” “unorthodox aesthetic or moral beliefs,” “rebellio[n] against the doctrines of popular taste” and a sincere conviction for the need to reform “attitudes toward literature” (Hoffman 4). While 47 technological and economic advancements made possible the mass-publication of magazines, including avant-garde papers, they also realized the commercialization of literature. Little magazines rebelled against such commercialization and instead promoted experimental forms of modernist literature and art. Some of the most noted little magazines were also Glebe (1913-14), Others (1915-19), Double Dealer (1921-26), and Smoke (1931-37). Many of these magazines helped launch the careers of “innovative and influential American poets” and modernist writers, including William Faulkner, T.S. Elliot and Amy Lowell to name a few. Harold Loeb’s 1921 Broom and Gorham B. Munson’s 1922 Secession “belonged to the generation of American writers which Gertrude Stein (and Ernest Hemingway after her) described as ‘lost’, and whose members moved to Europe after the Great War—mainly from New York’s ‘bohemian’ centre of Greenwich Village—to escape their homeland’s provincialism,” and also because American currency was worth more in Europe at the time (Botár 38). Many of them lived comfortably in Paris, others in London, Rome, Vienna and Berlin. A curious intersection lies between the worldview of American and Hungarian journals: while American artists wanted to escape their country’s commercialism and sought the expression of modernism in Europe, particularly in Central Europe, their Hungarian colleagues looked to the West and America for cultural salvation (Botár 42). Writers of Nyugat, among them Lajos Kassák, who later founded the journals A Tett [The Deed] and Ma [Today], were fascinated by “America’s technological advances” and in whose image they envisioned “the construction of a new world” (Botár 40-41). Nyugat authors often found inspiration in their Western contemporaries. Between 1912 and 1947, over six hundred little magazines were published in English, although most of them were short-lived due to financial difficulties, censorship, or “internecine quarrels” (Hoffman 2, 6). In the history of Canadian little magazines the period from 1916 to 48 1956 was also productive. In his survey, Irvine Dean examines the emergence of Canadian cultural modernity and suggests that in many cases “women established and edited these kinds of periodicals,” such as Anne Marriott, Floris McLaren, Doris Ferne and P.K. Page. (3). While most histories of Canadian print magazines neglect to acknowledge the active role of women, Irvine calls attention to how women “modified the period’s dominant, normative, masculinist modernism,” particularly in the 1930s that stands as an era of “the wholesale omission” of women’s contribution to the little magazines (8, 13). Within the “lost” periodicals and texts, which constitute the basis of an alternative history of Canadian literary culture, Irvine located a copious number of little magazines. 6 The second half of the twentieth century saw such journals in Europe and America as the French Les Temps Modernes founded in 1945 by Simone de Beauvoir, Jean-Paul Sartre and Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Cahiers du Cinema created in 1951 by André Bazin, Joseph-Marie Lo Duca and Jacques Doniol-Valcroze, and also the American Hudson Review from 1947 onward by William Ayers Arrowsmith, Joseph Deericks Bennett, and George Frederick Morgan. In their genre, calibre and style, these publications can be loosely compared to Nyugat. The Hungarian literary historian Miklós Szabolcsi argues that the only journal truly comparable to Nyugat in its time was the Parisian Le Nouvelle Revue Française. NRF was founded in November 1908 by Eugène Montfort but the first real issue appeared only on February 1, 1909 under the new editor, André Guide. Jean Schlumberger joined Guide at the editorial helm along with Jacques Rivière and Albert Thibaudet a little later with the aim of overcoming Symbolism and promoting classicisme moderne (Szabolcsi 15-16). While the staff 6 Some of these little magazines were: Sunset of Bon Echo (1916-20) edited by Flora MacDonald Denison, Woman Worker (1926-9) by Florence Custance, Mary Davidson’s Twentieth Century (1932-3), Canadian Forum (1935-47) by Eleanor Godfrey, Catherine Harmon’s here and now (1947-9), and Margaret Fairley’s New Frontiers (1952-6). Such other publications as Contemporary Verse (1941-45), with The McGill Fortnight Review (1925-27) as its forerunner, also the Preview (1942-45), First Statement (1942-45) and Direction (1943-46) need mention. In Quebec Amérique françiase, Montréal ran from 1941 until 1955, among other literary publications. The 1950s were the most productive years with such magazines as Contact, Combustion, and Louis Dudek’s Delta from 1957 to 1966 in English, and Art et Pensée, Emourie (1953-56), and Le Message des poètes (1956-66) in French. 49 of both journals knew about each other there was no contact between them (16). Other significant counterparts of Nyugat were La Voce, a literary journal from Florence, and the German Logos, under the editorial direction of the philosophers Heinrich Rickert and Wilhelm Windelband. While Nyugat writers hungered to join Western philosophic, literary and artistic currents they also held onto and reinforced their Hungarian roots in order to express a Hungarian literary and cultural turn (Fenyő, LP 35). However, placing Nyugat in the context of global literary and cultural periodicals is overall a difficult task because the journal, from its very beginning, had been defined as both a review and a literary movement of a generation equipped with a decisive energy that transformed the entire Hungarian culture (cf. Szabolcsi, Kenyeres, Pomogáts, M.D. Fenyő). Neither is it easy to compare Nyugat to other journals since in its genre, structure, content and purpose it can be seen to be novel or original in constructing its own ideals as measuring rods of literature (Szabolcsi 15). Therefore, relations of influence and contact between Nyugat in Hungary and other journals outside have been difficult to establish (Szabolcsi 15). What is important to emphasize is that Nyugat played the role of a central literary agent for writers and for the public and that it was a singular type of journal and journalism that until this day defines Hungarian literature and culture (Szabolcsi 16). In fact, as I argue throughout this dissertation, modern Hungarian literature and culture cannot be understood without first considering the impact of the Nyugat periodical. The Nyugat Period(ical) Research studies of Nyugat have been ongoing and seemingly inexhaustible in Hungary. In spite of all the discoveries and analyses there are still many obscure and unknown facts and details about the periodical, including the circumstances of its foundation. There is one single monograph available, Miksa Fenyő’s, which sheds light on some of the historical and personal 50 contexts of Nyugat. Throughout my dissertation I draw on several of these works to develop my analysis. According to most of these studies, Nyugat represented a paradigm shift in early twentieth century Hungarian literature: “European and Hungarian identities became united” on the pages of the review (Kenyeres, “Vigilia”). 7 Miksa Fenyő explains in his memoir that to read and “know the Nyugat also means learning about the Hungarian soul…[and about a] belief in its and Europe’s future” (10). Although it has been argued that writers of Nyugat were “simply a small number of progressive intellectuals writing for one another only” (Fenyő, “Writers” 191), Nyugat can be understood as the porte-parole of most early twentieth century Hungarian authors and artists (Fenyő, LP 8). For a writer to be published in the journal meant the greatest prestige (Kenyeres, “Vigilia”). Never before or after Nyugat have there been so many talented and prominent writers, artists and intellectuals converging in Hungary at once, a phenomenon which has puzzled scholars ever since and promoted vigorous research. Rather than assume that Nyugat signals the beginning of Hungarian modernism in literature and culture, I follow Zoltán Kenyeres’s argument that Nyugat was not born “in a vacuum, but rather in the midst of vibrant and wide-spanning intellectual and literary milieu” (EE 150). 8 Nyugat came to the Hungarian cultural scene when modernism, for the most part, had already commenced. Indeed, the first wave of modernism arrived in Hungary in the early 1880s, bringing Naturalism to the fore (Schwartz, SV 7). The second wave of modernism, which started right at the turn of the twentieth century, had “more similarities to Viennese modernity” (Schwartz, SV 7); it pronounced a new contradictory experience characterized by the splintering of the unity and permanent uniformity of society (Kenyeres, EE 20). Nyugat was founded as part of this second wave of modernism, but not as its instigator. In fact, Nyugat creators disregarded 7 magyarság és európaiság valósággal egybeforrt [a legnagyobbaknál]. “A Nyugat első száma nem légüres térben jelent meg, hanem éppenséggel egy igen eleven és kiterjedt szellemi és irodalmi élet kellős közepén.” 8 51 their immediate literary predecessors, the modernist authors Komjáthy, Beöthy, and Reviczky to name a few, and looked for ideals in earlier poets, Mihály Vörösmarty and János Arany. As Kenyeres laments, Nyugat was more of a continuation of both the mid-1800s classicists and the new modernists rather than an instigator of modernism (EE 151). Furthermore, Kenyeres argues that Nyugat’s modernism is also part of its fame: it was indeed modern in contrast to the “school of provincial folk-literature writers” [“népnemzeti iskola”] and the old-school academics, but it was not modern in the sense of promoting experimental movements either in Hungarian or international contexts (151). Dadaism, Surrealism, and Poetism for example, which are pertinent movements within modernism, eluded the interests of Nyugat. Nyugat’s modernism spread between symbolism and pre-expressionism; even in its later years it did not move beyond Proust, and it stopped short of the avant-garde (Kenyeres, EE 151). The disillusionment in the wake of WWI killed Secession and the so-called “golden age” of art and culture (between 1890 and 1914) was never to return. Thus stood Nyugat for a humanist classicism with liberalism as its bastion of modernity. The views of its writers on liberalism, however, did not refer to what we understand today, but to those ideas formulated by Lamennais and Mill, that is, to a form of leftist bourgeois liberalism (Kenyeres, EE 44). Kenyeres suggests that the cultural meaning of Nyugat should not be interpreted as new and modern, but rather as a representative of “ethical aesthetics” [“etikai esztétizmus”] or as grounded in a “practice of aesthetics with ethics” [“etizáló esztétizmus”] (EE 151-52). Like Nietzsche’s belief about art and aesthetics as the highest task of life (The Gay Science), Nyugat’s ethical aestheticism stood as a shield against shallow moralizing tendencies, and moved beyond aphoristic philosophizing which, in Hungary, was played out on the divided political battlefields between national liberals demanding territorial integration and everyone else who promoted any sort of social or cultural reform (Kenyeres, EE 28). At the same time, Kenyeres argues, “we can consider the era of Nyugat an 52 independent phase in relation to the previous and subsequent literary periods” in Hungary, not as part of a linear development within a “two-hundred year epoch that had begun at the end of the eighteenth century and still lasts today” (EE, 10-12). Nyugat writers were aware of this contradiction and they looked upon it with dismay and suspicion while searching for their own voices. Three Hungarians, the critic Ernő Osvát, the lawyer and journalist Dr. Miksa Fenyő, and the poet and literary critic Ignotus, founded Nyugat in late 1907. Osvát, Fenyő, and Ignotus were members of the new generation which I have described above. They came from the Jewish bourgeoisie and advocated radical social and cultural changes that gained expression in their taste, mentality and practice for anything new and progressive. Osvát (1877-1929) studied law and literature at the University of Budapest and published his
UBC Theses and Dissertations
Generation West : Hungarian modernism and the writers of the Nyugat review MacDonald, Agnes 2009
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