Hungary Literature in the 1970’s and 1980’s
In the seventies and eighties the Hungarian fiction has undergone important changes, the main meaning of which was formulated by P. Esterházy: “art wants to be above all free” (in Jelenkor, “The present age”, 1981, p. 3). With the prospects of the Sixties collapsed and faith in the possibility of changing the outside world fading, writers take refuge in the individual world. Despite the resurgence of the linguistic turn (“rather than the nation and the people, writers must worry about the subject and the predicate”: Esterházy, in Kis Magyar Pornográfia, 1984, “Small Hungarian pornography”), the social and national commitment, inalienable by Hungarian literature, is not renounced. In addition to Esterházy (b. 1950), who follows in the footsteps of G. Ottlik (1912-1990), author of Iskola a határon (1959, “School on the border”), of M. Mészöly (b. 1921) and of Gy. Konrád (b. 1933), F. Temesi (b. 1949), G. Bereményi (b. 1946) and P. Nádas (b. 1942) belong to this trend which can be defined as ” postmodern ”.
According to indexdotcom, Temesi’s novel Por (“Dust”, 1986-87), written in the form of a glossary, collects episodes and scenes from the life of six generations, with all their historical dilemmas, using the savory language of the countryside and the slang of young people today. The ” family sagas ” of Bereményi (Legendárium, 1978, “Legendary”) and of Nádas (Egy családregény vége, 1977, “The end of a family saga”; Emlékiratok, 1986, “Memorie”) are also encyclopedic. which summarize the experiences of various characters adrift of the historical events of the 1950s, 1956 and 1968. One of his drama, Nagytakarítás (trad. it., The great cleanings) in 1986 was also represented in Italy. Esterházy very effectively introduces the mentality of the young generation into Hungarian literature, rendered in an unscrupulous, often grotesque language, full of cultured quotations. After Termelési regény (1979, “Novel of production”) which ironizes on the negative implications of Hungarian public life, the release of each of his books immediately becomes a case and is accompanied by anticipated and heated discussions; as in the case of Tizenhét hattyúk (1987, “The seventeen swans”), written under the female pseudonym of Lili Csokonai. One of Esterházy’s novels, A szív segédigéi (1985), has been translated into Italian (The auxiliary verbs of the heart, 1988).
Another direction in which the new Hungarian fiction is moving is that of documentarism, stimulated by individual, historical and social factors. Sociography with Gy flourishes. Fekete (b.1922) and I. Csörsz (b.1942), also used by Gy. Moldova (b.1934), by A. Végh (b.1933) and from Transylvanian Gy. Beke (b. 1927), who are not afraid to deal with subjects previously considered taboo: for example, Moldova in Bűn az élet (1988, “Life is a crime”) addresses the problems of delinquency in Hungary. But even more important are the novels that investigate the recent and older history of the Hungary, in search of national identity and possible solutions to current issues.
They analyze the past in this light I. Nemeskürty (b. 1925) in Rekviem egy hadseregért (1973, “Requiem for an army”), the story of the second Hungarian army annihilated in the bend of the Don; T. Déry (1894-1977) in Ítélet nincs (1969, “There is no judgment”) and M. Szabó (b. 1917) in Régimódi történet (1977, “An old- fashioned history”). Gy’s fictional autobiography. Illyés (1902-1983) entitled Beatrice apródjai (1979, “The pages of Beatrice”) is also a reflection on the common destiny of the Hungarians. It should also be mentioned I. Gáll (1931-1982) who in the novel A ménesgazda (1976, “The master of the herd”) and in the stories of the volume Vaskor (1980, “The Iron Age”) evokes the tensions and contradictions of the first half of the 1950s; T. Cseres (1915-1993), president of the Society of Writers since 1987 and author of important historical novels, including A vízaknai csata (1988, “The Battle of Vízakna”). The most controversial authors are E. Galgóczy (1930-1989), author of Vidravas (1984, “Otter iron”), B. Bertha (b. 1935) and above all I. Csurka (b. 1934). Among the youngest of the documentary line stand out A. Simonffy (b. 1941), who in Kompország katonái (1981, “Soldiers of the ferry country”) tells of the efforts made to create a democratic army in the last years of the Second World War; and P. Dobay (b. 1944),(1985, “The colonel of the empire”) and screenwriter of the film Mefisto by I. Szabó. Gy. Száraz (1930-1988) and Gy. Spiró (b. 1942) broaden the horizons of their interests over the entire central-eastern area of Europe, with a particular sensitivity towards, respectively, the Transylvanian and Polish problems. Among the Hungarian writers of Romania and the former Yugoslavia the most notable are A. Sütő (b. 1926) and N. Gion (b. 1941).
In the field of poetry we observe the continuation of the lyric engaged in a social and national sense, represented above all by Gy. Illyés (1902-1983), one of the greatest spiritual exponents of the country; by L. Nagy (1925-1978) and F. Juhász (b. 1928). The other main current of Hungarian opera of the twentieth century, of philosophical inspiration and willing to also use avant-garde methods and poetics, already endorsed by the name of M. Babits, was mediated until the seventies above all by S. Weöres (1913- 1989), poet of the astonishing metamorphoses and inexhaustible linguistic inventiveness, as well as by the mystic J. Pilinszky (1921-1981). The latter, together with L. Kassák (1877-1967), greatly influenced the younger poets belonging to the second line, such as for example. D. Tandori (b. 1938), the most authoritative voice of the ” postmodern ” turn. And while the national-popular trend is carried forward by S. Csoóri (b. 1930), I. Kormos (1923-1977), I. Csanádi (1920-1991), I. Ratkó (1939-1989), I. Ágh (b.1938) and G. Nagy (b.1949), the second main current of Hungarian poetry is further enriched by the contributions of Gy. Rába (b.1924), S. Rákos (b.1921), I. Vas (1910-1991), Gy. Csorba (b.1916), L. Kálnoky (1912-1985) and the younger Zs. Takács (b.1938), I. Kiss (b.1947) and E. Szkárosi (b.1953), ” transpoeta ”. the second mainstream of Hungarian poetry is further enriched by the contributions of Gy. Rába (b.1924), S. Rákos (b.1921), I. Vas (1910-1991), Gy. Csorba (b.1916), L. Kálnoky (1912-1985) and the younger Zs. Takács (b.1938), I. Kiss (b.1947) and E. Szkárosi (b.1953), ” transpoeta ”. the second mainstream of Hungarian poetry is further enriched by the contributions of Gy. Rába (b.1924), S. Rákos (b.1921), I. Vas (1910-1991), Gy. Csorba (b.1916), L. Kálnoky (1912-1985) and the younger Zs. Takács (b.1938), I. Kiss (b.1947) and E. Szkárosi (b.1953), ” transpoeta ”.