Hungary Literature from the Austro-Hungarian Empire to the 21st Century
From the end of the Austro-Hungarian Empire to the fall of the Berlin Wall
Following the First World War, new states were formed in central Europe, within which more or less numerous Hungarian minorities came to be found: thus, from 1919 onwards, alongside the literary production of the Hungary properly speaking, that of some of these minorities must also be considered. This is the case, for example, of the Hungarian literature present in Romania (Transylvania), which boasts a centuries-old history and which, thanks to its own structures already consolidated over the centuries (schools, academies, universities, theaters, etc.), has produced numerous works in the field of prose (E. Benedek, K. Koós, Á. Tamási, A. Sütő, Á. Bodor), in that of poetry (L. Áprily, S. Remenyik, J. Dsida, S. Kányadi, D. Szilágyi) and of the theater (Á. Tamási, K. Koós, J. Székely, A. Sütő; G. Páskándi). As for actual Hungarian literature, it was characterized in the period between the two world wars by an evident greater interest in social and political issues: this distinguished the populist movement of the ‘third way’ (D. Szabó, Z. Móricz, J. Erdélyi, I. Sinka, L. Németh, G. Illyés), as well as the socialist one. To this last group belongs the existentialist poet A. József, cantor of love and freedom, whose poetry influenced many subsequent poets, including M. Radnóti, J. Pilinszky and others gathered around the magazine Uj hold (1945 -47), such as S. Weöres, A. Nemes Nagy, G. Rába. ● After World War II, cultural life too could not fail to be affected by the totalitarianism that prevailed in the country, a consequence of the advent of the communist regime and of the political-military domination of central Europe by the Soviet Union; this situation pushed many intellectuals and writers to leave the Hungary (J. Nyirő, S. Márai, L. Zilahy, LC Szabó etc.). The failure of the popular uprising of 1956, in which writers, including communists, took part, many of whom were arrested (T. Déry, G. Háy, Z. Zelk), gave rise to yet another emigration of intellectuals from the country. In the 1960s the regime led by J. Kádár sought the path of compromise with the world culture: thus, alongside the literary works aligned with the ideology of the regime, those of writers who had hitherto been marginalized were also published, such as L. Németh, L. Szabó, L. Kassák, S. Weöres, J. Pilinszky, G. Ottlik etc.. In this same period were also published the mystical poems of F. Juhász, the committed poems of L. Nagy and S. Csoóri, the plays of M. Hbay, the parable novels of T. Déry. In the 1970s and 1980s, as the political change matured in the Hungary, the tendencies towards a more accurate stylistic research strengthened which, after the political satires of I. Örkény and I. Csurka, gave birth to an unconventional political literature headed by G. Konrád. However, the real renewal of Hungarian fiction is due to the influence of intellectuals such as B. Hamvas, G. Ottlik, M. Mészöly and I. Mándy. To these writers we must trace the formation of the new postmodern narrative generation represented by P. Hajnóczy, P. Nádas, P. Esterházy (the most famous abroad), to which we can add N. Gion, from the former Yugoslavia, Á. Bodor, from Transylvania, and L. Grendel, from Slovakia.
From the end of the 20th century. at the beginning of the 21st
According to ehotelat, the radical changes following the fall of the Berlin Wall (1989) profoundly influenced the Hungarian literary world, which found itself having to reflect on the survival prospects of literature in the new economic and social context. Since the 1990s both works produced in the last decades of the 20th century have entered the literary circuit. and written in anticipation of an imagined end or at least a radical transformation of the regime, both works by historical authors in varying degrees censored by the regime itself, such as, for example, those of M. Babits, S. Márai, Á. Nemes Nagy, S. Weöres, M. Mészöly. However, the production of the 1970s and 1980s also enters the literary system, relegated to the samizdat circuitlocal, like that of M. Kornis (Végre élsz “Finally live”, 1981, reprinted in “uncensored and partially revised” 1992 edition ; Drámák “Drammi”, 1999, with a ballad on J. Kádár), or the one published at abroad by the authors in exile. There is also room for writers belonging to the Hungarian minorities of neighboring countries, including (in addition to the aforementioned Grendel) AF Kovács, Hungarian-speaking poet in Romania, author of Orphic texts full of self-irony and historical-poetic masks; JD Orbán, also a Transylvanian poet and author of the volume Hivatalnok-líra(“Clerical lyric”, 1999). After the fall of the socialist regime, Hungarian literature is characterized by thematic and formal choices deeply linked to the question of the autonomy of literature. Indeed, the imposition of socialist realism had produced not only works aligned with political directives, but also works that expressed a radical reaction. A wealth of memorials testify to this: Rom: a szovjetónió története (“The ruin. History of the former Soviet Union”, 2000) by E. Kukorelly; Emlékiratok könyve (“Book of memories”, 1986) by P. Nádas; Sinistra körzet (1992; trad. It. The district of the left: chapters of a novel, 1999) and Az érsek látogatása(“The Bishop’s Visit”, 1999) by Á. Bodor; Kényszerë szabadulás (” Forced Liberation”, 2000) by L. Márton; Kádár János, az igazságos («János Kádár, the impartial», 2001) by V. Csaplár. All these works manifest a need for intimacy, which is expressed in a self-referential writing, with an intense and broad innovation of formal procedures. These innovative trends are more generally evident in the development of individual careers, eg. in the remarkable stylistic evolution of the aforementioned Esterházy (who remains the most representative author) from Termelési regény (“Production novel”, 1979) to Harmonia caelestis (2000).