Hungary Literature After the Second World War
The decade that ended with the end of the Second World War is one of the most varied and fruitful periods of Hungarian literature. Parallel to the slow decline of outdated trends and styles, new faiths, aspirations and forms are emerging and affirming themselves. The conception of individualistic and collective life, bourgeois and popular literature, Europeanism and anti-Europeanism, realistic means of representation and imagination encroaching on the world of the fairy-tale and the mythical face each other. The problems of literature, which during the rage of the various cerebral art fashions (simultaneism, activism, Dadaism, etc.) had lost all power of attraction on the public, return to assume a first-rate importance in national life ,
According to Directoryaah, names celebrated at the beginning of the century, such as that of Francesco Molnár, fall into oblivion, and Francesco Herczeg participates in the travail of Hungarian thought by now only with essays and articles dictated by a noble and sober conservatism. The continuers of his art – eg. Colomanno Csathó, Giulianna Zsigray – they lose their relevance in the same way as Luigi Zilnay and the most vigorous living writer, Irene Gulácsy. Neither the impassive and playfully amoral Eugenio J. Tersánszhy, nor Louis Kassák, the greatest pride of Hungarian proletarian literature, succeed in arousing wide resonance. The unanimous opinion, both of the critics and of the readers, elevates Sigsmondo Móricz to the place of honor among the novelists of the time. Beside him, Desiderio Szabó continues to be the idol of youth for the passionate struggles he leads for the cause of the material and cultural redemption of the Hungarian peasant. From the revolutionary alarm of Szabó and from the “peasant” novels of Móricz, the “popular current” arises, which will give the most marked characteristic to the literature of this decade.
In the footsteps of Szab6, Ladislao Németh, the ideologue of the popular trend, sets out. With a similar spirit, the monumental novels of Giovanni Kodolányi penetrate deep into the vital questions of the nation. Alongside these authors of bourgeois origin and culture, a whole host of genuine peasant-writers make their way who are the first to reveal, with their robust talent, the secrets of village life and the collective soul that have remained unknown until now. Many of them, and not only lovers of the novel and short story: Giuseppe Darvas, Pietro Veres, Pa0lo Szabó, Francesco Erdei, Géza Feja, Stefano Asztalos, Giuseppe Bakó, Martino Kerecsendi Kiss, Alessandro Tatay; but also the lyrics: Giuseppe Erdélyi, Giulio Illyés, Attila József, Francesco Sinka also distinguished themselves in the theoretical field with sociological studies and writings on literary polemics. It is in the imaginative prose of the two Transylvanian writers Aronne Tamási and Giuseppe Nyiró that popular literature has reached its highest artistic peaks.
Unlike the popular current, which often flaunts an attitude contrary to Christianity and which among nostalgic fantasies looks towards the East, bourgeois literature, proud of its Western roots, continues to maintain and multiply its contacts with European literature. The leader of the bourgeois front was, until his death in 1941, Michele Babits. His latest volumes, as well as the lyrics of the best members of the Nyugat magazine group of poets- Lorenzo Szabó, Giorgio Sárkozi, Alessandro Weöres, Zoltán Jékely, Giulio Takáts – enriched the Hungarian literary heritage, even in these years, with lasting values. The popularity of the mature art of the Catholic Alexander Sik was for a time surpassed by the more brilliant one of another priest-poet, Ladislao Mécs. From the fine and subdued choir of Transylvanian lyricists – Luigi Áprily, Giovanni Bartalis, Ladislao Szabédi, etc. – Alexander Reményik’s sublime poetry rose above all others. The anxieties and torments of the national and social conscience are best manifested in the works of the narrators and essayists belonging to the same bourgeois front – Alessandro Márai, Ladislao Cs. Szabó, Rosa Ignácz, Giorgio Rónay, Alberto Wass, Gabriele Thurzó, Sigismondo Reményik, Stefano Sőtér, Ladislao Passuth.
In the light of the last three years, 1945-48, however, the contrast between the two currents appears much less harsh and is almost dissolving in the radically changed conditions of the country, which determined a new division of literature. While a rather small group of hitherto largely unknown writers – Béla Balázs, Tiberio Déry, Alessandro Gergely, Giulio Háy, Béla Illés, Zoltán Zelk, Géza Képes – are loyal to a Russian-imported literary program called “great realism”, which found its main critic-apologist in Giorgio Lukács, director of the Forum, numerous opposition authors are silent or have withdrawn into a kind of ivory tower represented by their magazine Vigilia.