HUNGARIAN LITERATURE


This article is arranged according to the following outline:

Biblical and Hebraic Influences

The author of the earliest extant document in the Hungarian language, Magyar, a funeral oration called Halotti beszéd (c. 1200), based his text on the biblical account of the fall of man, and some of the earliest Hungarian poetry was interwoven with biblical imagery and diction. Later in the Middle Ages, Latin chroniclers such as Simon Kézai (c. 1280) and Mark Kálti (c. 1360) used the biblical stories of the Flood, Nimrod, and the Israelite heroes as source material for their reconstruction of Magyar history.

THE REFORMATION AND ITS AFTERMATH

The Reformation made rapid headway in Hungary, where the Bible was first translated by Hussite preachers of the 15th century, whose versions of the Psalms and the Prophets are still available. During the 16th century, Hungarian Calvinists were particularly active as Bible translators: Gáspár Heltai produced a version of the Pentateuch and Gáspár Károli translated the entire Bible in 1590. Károli's was a notable achievement, comparable to the Authorized Version of the Bible in English. In the Hebrews of the Old Testament Protestant writers saw a prefiguration of the Hungarian nation, its national resurgence, and its tribulations at the hands of feudal overlords, the Roman Catholic Church and Turkish invaders. In his poem, Cantilena (c. 1523), Ferenc Apáti made dramatic use of the figure of Samson to symbolize the Hungarian peasant revolt, while András Farkas drew a parallel between "God's two chosen peoples" in Az zsidó és a magyar nemzetről ("On the Jewish and Hungarian Nations," Cracow, 1538). Bálint Balassa, the first major Hungarian poet, also expressed himself in the language of the Psalms, some of which he translated into Magyar, as did András Szkhárosi Horvát, who used the chastisement of Lev. 26 to scourge his own people in Az átokról ("The Curse," 1547). Another 16th-century translator of the Psalms was Mihály Sztárai.

Following the Turkish victory at Mohács in 1526, the words of Jeremiah were often quoted to describe the sad condition into which Hungary was then plunged. Reformation epics drew their inspiration from biblical characters or episodes. Some notable examples are found in the works of András Batizi (Isaac and Gideon), Péter Kákonyi (Samson). András Dézsi (Abraham and the hosts of Moses and Joshua), and Mihály Sztárai (Ahab and Elijah). Miklós Sztárai wrote a verse adaptation of the story of the Flood. Sebestyén Tinódi not only described the battle between David and Goliath and versified the story of Jonah, but in his poetic account of Noah the husbandman, Sokféle részögösről ("Many Kinds of Drunkard," 1548), even used material from the aggadah. Other Hungarian Protestants favored themes such as the destruction of Jerusalem and the heroism of the Maccabees. By the end of the 16th century Catholic writers of the Counter-Reformation were in their turn exploiting the Bible. György Káldi, a Jesuit, was responsible for the first Hungarian Bible under Catholic auspices (Vienna, 1626). Hungary's desolation was attributed to the evil effects of Calvinism, and contemporary polemical writings made extensive use of biblical citation. In 17th-century Hungarian literature the Bible and secular poetry find a remarkable fusion in the works of Miklós Zriny, who wrote the baroque epic Obsidio Szigetiana, its Hungarian title Szigeti veszedelem ("The Siege of Szigetvár," Vienna, 1651). In this heroic and nationalistic work the hero is motivated by scriptural morality, and his military science owes much to biblical history. During the 18th century, Kelemen Mikes injected a biblical tone into his fictional Törökországi levelek ("Letters from Turkey," Szombathely, 1794). The main stress in this period, however, was on drama, and the biblical plays include Izsák és Rebekka (1704) by Ferenc Pápai Páriz and Joas (1770) by Bernát Benyák, as well as two anonymous ones about Esther.

19TH- AND 20TH-CENTURY LITERATURE

With the revival of Magyar nationalism in the 19th century there came a literary revival of biblical themes and expression. Ferenc Kölcsey, a Protestant nobleman, made patriotism a religious leitmotiv of his writing; his Hymnus (1823), textually related to Jer. 32:21–29, became the Hungarian national anthem. Biblical phrases and characters recur frequently in the works of János Arany. Rachel (1851) allegorized Hungary's fate in biblical terms, and his fragmentary Proféta-lomb ("Prophet Bough"), begun in 1877, was inspired by the story of Jonah. Mihály Tompa, a Calvinist pastor, not unnaturally turned to the Bible in poetical works such as Sámson (1863), while Imre Madách found the framework for his Az ember tragédiája ("The Tragedy of Man," 1862) in the Creation story and the Book of Job. Another of Madách's dramas, Mózes (1860), describes the Magyar battle for freedom in terms of the Exodus from Egypt. Biblical elements are also much in evidence in the novels of two prominent liberal writers, Mór Jókai and Kálmán Mikszáth.

Among 20th-century writers, the revolutionary poet Endre Ady, who like many Hungarian liberals had a Calvinist background and education, drew spiritual and linguistic inspiration from the Scriptures, which had an immense impact on his style and religious expression. Jewish fellow-writers and critics were among his most ardent supporters. Gyula Juhász made use of biblical metaphor, and Jewish legendary material appeared in some of the mystical poems of Attila József. Toward the end of his life Mihály Babits in Jónás könyve ("The Book of Jonah," 1938) reassessed his negative view of the Bible, claiming that the man who remains silent in the face of evil is himself an accomplice.

Rather surprisingly, works of biblical inspiration were not common among Hungarian Jewish writers, even in the case of so Jewish a poet as József *Kiss. Emil *Makai paraphrased the Song of Songs (Énekek éneke, 1893), wrote the drama Absolon (1891), and translated Abraham *Goldfaden's plays about Shulamit and Bar Kokhba. Lajos *Palágyi wrote poems on biblical themes, and Henrik Lenkei wrote some about Cain (Kainhalála, 1899), David and Job. Géza *Szilágyi, who often quoted the Bible in his works, dealt with Delilah (1910) and other figures, and he was followed by several minor Jewish poets. Lajos *Szabolcsi wrote a historical novel about Bar Kokhba (Acsillag fia, 1918) and a play about Josephus (1922); Illés *Kaczér published several biblical and Jewish historical works; and valuable literary studies of Jeremiah (1932) and Isaiah (1935) were written by a leading Reform (Neolog) rabbi, Lipót Kecskeméti (1865–1936). Under the shadow of Hitlerism, many Jewish writers sought comfort in the Bible, and for a time, biblical dramas were staged by the OMIKE (Hungarian Jewish Cultural Association). These include Támár (1942) by Lajos Bálint; and Batséba (1940) and Mózes (1942) by Károly *Pap.

After World War II, a few writers again turned to the Bible. Among them were Géza Hegedüs, whose novel A Bálványrombolók ("The Iconoclasts," 1945) dealt with Deborah and Barak: János Kodolányi, whose Az égő csipkebokor ("The Burning Bush," 1957) has Moses as its hero; László Németh (Sámson, 1958); and József Fodor, whose A tékoai pásztor ("The Shepherd of Tekoa," 1958) was a dramatic poem about the prophet Amos.

[Alexander Scheiber]

The Figure of the Jew in Hungarian Literature

Although in 18th-century Hungarian fiction Jews were often stereotyped as moneylenders, Vitéz Milhály Csokonai created a realistic Jewish figure with Marsalik, the self-respecting jack-of-all-trades of his humorous epic, Dorottya (1799). During the 1830s and 1840s the struggle for Jewish emancipation produced some hostile portrayals of Jews as criminals, and exploiters and enemies of the Hungarian people; but these were more than offset by the sympathetic approach of Mihály Táncsics (Pazardi, 1836), András Fáy (Salamon, 1838), Ede Szigligeti (A zsidó, 1844) and József Eötvös (A Falu jegyzője, 1845). Other writers of the era who expressed sympathy for the Jews were János Arany and the great lyric poet Sándor Petöfi.

Hungarian Jewry's enthusiastic support for Louis Kossuth's revolutionary campaign of 1848–49 inspired episodes in a number of historical novels, including A kőszivű ember fiai ("The Sons of the Stonyhearted Man," 1869) by Mór Jókai. In 1867 emancipation became a reality, but the results were largely negative: antisemitism revived, and assimilation and intermarriage increased. The author, politician, and lawyer Károly Eötvös, who was one of the leaders of the Kossuth party, defended the accused at the Tisza-Eszlar blood libel trial of 1882–83. These events he later described in the novel A nagy per ("The Great Trial," 3 vols., 1904). Hungarian Jews nevertheless played a prominent role in the country's development as bankers and industrialists, and these found their way into contemporary literature. In the latter half of the 19th century the Jewish peddler or storekeeper entered Hungarian folklore and, through the poems of József Kiss, began to figure in the Hungarian ballad. Kálmán Mikszáth also depicted the Jews of the Hungarian countryside in some of his humorous novels, but his short stories dealt with urban Jews.

From the middle of the 19th century onward, Jewish writers contributed their own pictures of Jewish types. Bertalan *Ormódy portrayed Jewish peasants with realism and sympathy, and Sándor *Bródy wrote a pioneering study of the Jewish worker in his novella, Nyomor ("Misery," 1884).

Ordinary Jews – from clerks to woodcutters – also made their appearance in works by Béla *Révész, Péter *Ujvári, and Béla Illés. Tamás *Kóbor devoted his novel Ki a gettóból ("Out of the Ghetto," 1911) to the life of the Jewish artisan.

Between the world wars, the problem of the Jew in Hungary attracted the attention of the writers Dezsö Szabó and László Németh, but the issue of antisemitism was primarily the concern of Jewish writers. In the view of Lajos *Biró and András *Komor, hatred of the Jew assisted his survival. Biró published a powerful story, A Bazini zsidók ("The Jews of Bazin," 1921), about the horrifying outcome of a 16th-century *blood libel near Bratislava, which dramatized his view of Jewry's long and tragic exile. Nor was he alone in seeing the success of Béla Kun's counterrevolutionary opponents as the death-blow to Hungarian-Jewish assimilation. Most of Gyula Csermely's plays, novels, and stories emphasize the bad effects of Jewish assimilation, while Béla *Zsolt, though critical of the Jewish bourgeoisie in his fiction, was long preoccupied with Jewish-Christian relations and distinguished himself as an outspoken opponent of Hungarian antisemitism. On the other hand, the assimilationist viewpoint was expressed by Lajos *Hatvany, a convert. Hatvany's Urak es emberek ("Noblemen and Gentiles," 1927), which tells the story of a Hungarian-Jewish family at the turn of the century, clearly reflects the author's own internal conflict. The same dilemma beset Károly Pap (Azarel, 1937) and Andor Endre *Gelléri. On an entirely different plane was Demeter Szeö's presentation of the *Wandering Jew theme in Zsidó vagyok ("I Am a Jew," 1933).

LITERATURE OF THE HOLOCAUST

From the late 1930s Hungary's best writers refused to lend themselves to their government's antisemitic campaign, notably Sándor Márai. Among those who declared their sympathy for Jewish suffering were Gyula Illyés, Lajos Kassák, and Attila József, in his poem, Smá Jiszróel (1941). Jewish reactions to the Holocaust were movingly conveyed in the poems of Miklós *Radnóti. After World War II Hungarian literature documented the Nazi war crimes and the anti-Jewish terror of the fascist Arrow-Cross Party. Those writers who dealt with the fate of the Jews include Lajos Nagy, Tibor *Déry, and Ernö *Szép. Various novels described the confinement of Jews to separate houses, how some went into hiding while others sought refuge in foreign embassies, Nazi massacres, and the final demolition of the ghetto walls. Béla Illés and especially Imre Keszi (Elysium, 1958) were prominent exponents of this type of work. Some writers, such as Erzsébet Rab, Kálmán Sándor, and Zimra Harsányi, painted scenes of the death camps, while others tried to express feelings of vengeance or remorse. György Rónay's Esti gyors ("Evening Express," 1963) is the story of a pharmacist's assistant who eventually commits suicide after following the *Eichmann Trial in Israel.

Of the other writers of the period, József *Patai, whose biography of Theodor *Herzl appeared in 1932, wrote two accounts of Zionist colonization in Ereẓ Israel: A föltámadó Szentföld ("The Holy Land Restored," 1926) and Új Palesztinaútjain ("On the Pathways of the New Palestine," 1938). He and his wife Edith (Ehrenfeld) Patai, who wrote Zionist verse and prose, settled in Ereẓ Israel in 1940. Erzsi *Szenes, who settled in the country nine years later, wrote mainly on Jewish themes and in 1956 published Van hazám ("I have a Homeland").

[Jeno Zsoldos]

The Jewish Contribution to Hungarian Literature

The first Jewish writers only emerged in the mid-19th century. During the Enlightenment an élite was steeped in Hebrew culture; but Jewish writers wrote German and Hungarian. From the middle of the 19th century the emerging Jewish writers increasingly identified themselves with Magyar aspirations and wrote in Hungarian.

RADICAL IDEALISM

In 1840 Jews were accorded the right to live where they pleased and to follow whatever occupation they wished. An anonymous Jewish poet expressed his gratitude in Hungarian verse and promised the nation that had granted these rights his absolute devotion. The earliest Hungarian Jewish writers, intoxicated with new theories, were extremely radical and believed in outright assimilation. During the 1840s there were two prominent Jewish authors: the playwright Károly Hugó (Philip Bernstein); and the turncoat Gusztáv Zerffi (?1820–?), a fierce opponent of the poet Sándor Petőfi and a reactionary, who became a revolutionary extremist. Both Hugó and Zerffi were in the vanguard of conversion to Christianity, which rapidly affected almost all their generation. More interesting and more positive from a Jewish viewpoint was the poet Michael (Mihály) *Heilprin. Heilprin came from Russian Poland but quickly developed an excellent command of Hungarian. In 1856 he finally settled in the U.S. where he became a leading abolitionist.

The first representative of complete alienation – and even of self-hatred – among Hungarian Jewish intellectuals of the period was Moritz Rosenthal (1833–1889), who wrote in 1841 that it was proper that the Hungarian Jew should enjoy fewer civil rights than the foreign non-Jew in the country, since the law was bound to protect the predominant religion. Both Rosenthal and the philologist Móritz (Bloch) *Ballagi, a former yeshivah student, became pillars of the Calvinist church. In the 1840s, however, Ballagi was still campaigning for a rabbinical seminary in which the language of instruction would be Hungarian, and preparing a Hungarian translation of the Bible.

Another typical product of the times was Ignác *Einhorn (Eduard Horn), an early advocate of Jewish religious reform. During the years of oppression that followed the failure of the 1848 revolution (in which many Jews had been active), Hungarian Jewish literary activity was negligible. Many Jewish writers emigrated, and of the few who remained two of the most important – the playwright Lajos *Dóczy and the author Miksa *Falk – were converts to Christianity.

THE FIRST JEWISH REVIVAL

The year 1867, which marked the granting of Hungary's constitution, also brought new legislation designed for the emancipation of the Jews. This resulted in far-reaching economic and cultural development, although Hungarian social life was still closed to them. They were welcomed as scientists and scholars, not least by the liberal statesman József Eötvös, who as minister of education prepared the way for young Jewish savants such as József *Bánóczi, Bernhard Alexander and Ignace *Goldziher. Jewish writers, on the other hand, lacked the encouragement of a substantial readership. József Kiss trained a whole new literary generation. While most Jewish authors of his era turned their backs on Judaism, Kiss himself was a loyal Jew. The fact that he and his followers were Jewish subjected them to attack from some of their rivals, although a large proportion of the conservative population was not in the least antisemitic.

Among important writers of the late 19th century was Jenő *Heltai, a baptized cousin of Theodor Herzl. Heltai, like many other Jewish writers of his time, never wrote on any specifically Jewish subject. On the other hand, one of Kiss's disciples, Emil Makai, wrote some outstanding religious verse. The celebrated playwright Ferenc *Molnár did not choose Jewish themes for his plays, but most of his characters are Jews, and in his prose he dealt with Jewish problems. Géza Szilágyi, who wrote important Hungarian love poems, devoted much attention to Jewish themes in his work.

THE CRISIS OF IDENTITY

The question of the ordinary Jew's integration into Hungarian society preoccupied Tamás Kóbor. Though sympathetic to the Jew who would not deny his origin, Kóbor was typical of his time in advocating assimilation. Dezső *Szomory was another writer who dealt with aspects of Jewish life, and the crisis in traditional Jewish society greatly preoccupied Sándor Brody, as in his play, Timár Liza (1914), which satirizes a renegade Jewish parvenu. This period also marked the literary beginnings of Péter *Ujvári, the "Hungarian *Shalom Aleichem." While many of his contemporaries had to write about Jewish life because they were excluded from any other, Ujvári wrote on Jewish subjects from choice. He is best remembered as the editor of the Magyar Zsidó Lexikon (1929), Hungarian Jewry's own encyclopedia.

Although Hugó *Ignotus was one of the writers who could not forget that he was a Jew, his reaction to the Jewish question underwent several changes. He was one of the founders of the modernist periodical Nyugat ("West"), which supported the revolutionary attitudes of men like the poet Endre Ady. Jews – not only Jewish writers, but Jewish readers as well – unhesitatingly joined the camp of Nyugat, in whose name many saw great significance. Others associated with the magazine included two of Ady's principal supporters, Ernő*Osvát and Lajos Hatvany, who used his wealth to promote aspiring talents.

Apart from the poet Ady and the prose writer Zsigmond Móricz, most of the authors and editors in the Nyugat group were Jews. Although some Jewish writers in Hungary were in the conservative literary camp, almost all the leading figures in spheres connected with Nyugat – and radical-socialist politics, art, and theater – were Jews. One by-product was the witty political and literary cabaret founded and managed by the baptized writer Endre *Nagy. His theater, though it mocked antisemitism, helped to alienate Jews and did much to blacken the Jewish image.

POST-WORLD WAR I REACTIONS

After the failure of Béla Kun's revolution (1919), the new régime imposed its mark on literary life. Sensitive to the image of Ady, who had died in 1919, it suppressed the fact that he had had Jewish sponsors and a Jewish circle. Nyugat continued to be a forum for Jewish writers and was in fact almost their only platform, apart from the liberal press, which was entirely in Jewish hands. The period of the "White Terror" and the more subtle persecution which followed persuaded Jewish writers that there was no longer any point in evading the question of the Jewish position in Hungarian society, and this was now discussed quite openly. In this spiritual conflict, Lajos Biró was especially prominent. His ties with Judaism were strong and constant, and were revealed even more clearly after his emigration in 1919. Béla Zsolt went deeply into the Jewish problems of his time especially as they affected intellectuals. His work thus has an unusual documentary value. The Jewish question also preoccupied other writers of the period, such as Hatvany, Ferenc *Körmendi and Mihály Földi.

The post-World War I generation reached more decisive conclusions in regard both to itself and to its writing.

Some authors, notably Antal *Szerb, Miklós *Radnóti, and György Sárközi (1899–1945), abandoned Judaism, seeking an escape in neo-Catholicism. Their motives derived less from an aversion to Judaism than from their fear of joining some new movement which – like the radicalism of 20 years before – would be regarded as entirely Jewish, and thus be doomed to failure from the beginning. However, the renewed and intensified persecutions of the 1930s threw all three of them into the vortex of Jewish suffering. They reacted in different ways. Szerb, during the Holocaust, accepted his fate with pride. Radnóti and Sárközi, who died in Hungarian labor camps, never reidentified themselves with Jewry, but it is certainly no coincidence that Radnóti, in his last poems, returned to the prophetic style.

THE SECOND JEWISH REVIVAL

Károly Pap exposed the sham of Hungarian Jewish "emancipation" and advocated the acceptance of minority status. Few Jewish writers in Hungary were as uncomprisingly Jewish in their outlook and loyalty as he. Two of his contemporaries who bore witness to the Jewish people's capacity for continued survival were Akos Molnár and András Komor. The return to Judaism was the major poetic theme of Aladar *Komlós, an authority on Hungarian Jewish literature, while the bitter fate of the Jew was expressed in the poems of László Fenyő and in the prose works of Andor Endre *Gelléri.

LAST ECHOES

After the Holocaust, the handful of surviving Jewish writers in Hungary who again turned to Jewish themes only wrote about the "Final Solution." Outstanding among them was Tibor *Déry, whose powerful descriptive talent enabled him to present both Jewish and non-Jewish characters with great realism. Jewish emotion characterizes the stories of Sándor Sásdi (1899–?), who mourns the disappearance of the Jewish family. The conscious avoidance of the Jewish theme was characteristic of Jewish writers under the new Communist regime, especially after 1948. Several non-Jewish writers dealt with the Jewish question, and particularly with the Holocaust, and subsequently even dealt with contemporary Jewish questions.

[Baruch Yaron]

DEVELOPMENTS FROM THE 1970S

While in the first two decades of the Communist regime hardly any books were published on Jewish subjects by Jewish authors, the 1970s witnessed a sudden emergence of Holocaust literature. Mostly autobiographical novels, they differ widely in literary value, yet they all have some significant common characteristics. The central figure is usually a young boy through whose eyes the last years of the war are seen. The scene is either war-torn Budapest – as in Gy. Moldov's Szent Imre Induló ("The March of St. Emeric," 1975) – or Strasshof, a concentration camp in Austria where families were allowed to stay together – as in Az elsöévtized ("The First Decade," 1975) by P. Bardos and Hajtükanyar ("Hairpin Bend," 1974, 1977) by Maria Ember. In the latter work the text is accompanied by several documents. Among other authors with novels on the Holocaust are Agnes Gergely, I. *Kertész (Nobel Prize 2002), Gy. Gera, and a non-Jew, Gy. Fekete.

Other works on Jewish subjects range from scholarly studies to very light fiction. Thus, A. Scheiber published a book on biblical themes and a biography of the Hungarian-Jewish poet József *Kiss. Monographs of Hungarian Jewish communities also appeared. O. Major's Három apokrif ("Three Apocrypha," 1975) deals with the era of Herod and Justus of Tiberias. A non-Jewish journalist, Gy. Szaraz, published a survey of the history of antisemitism in Hungary Egy elööitélet nyomabán ("In the Wake of a Prejudice," 1975).

In the realm of fiction Gy. Kardos was the first to come out with a novel on a Jewish subject; his Abrahám Bogatir hét napja, centering on a kibbutz, appeared in 1968 (English Abraham's Good Week, 1975). The background of his second novel Hová tüntek a katonak (1971) is also Palestine during the period of the British Mandate, but the main characters are Polish soldiers of General Ander's army. Jewish displaced persons' camps in Austria and Germany form the unusual setting of the thriller Szerelemröl bolond sjszakán ("About Love on a Crazy Night," 1975) by E. Fejes.

Works on Zionism or on present-day Israel were conspicuously absent. In spite of being officially banned, the Hungarian version of the book on the Entebbe rescue operation (published in Israel) found its way to Hungarian readers and gained considerable popularity.

In the 1980s works dealing with Jewish subjects continued to be diverse in character and quality. The outstanding publication of the beginning of the 1980s was A Maimuni Kódex (1980), a facsimile edition of the most beautiful pages of Maimonides' Mishneh Torah, originally illuminated by Nathan ben Simeon ha-Levi at the end of the 13th century. The book was prepared under the guidance of Professor A. *Scheiber. He also edited the series A magyarországi zsidó hitközségek monográfiái, sponsored by the American Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture. Besides monographs on Jewish kehillot, published in this series were a survey dealing with the recently excavated ancient synagogue in Sopron (Oedenburg), and a treatise on Hungarian-Jewish family names prior to the name-giving edict of Joseph II.

Widely differing subjects, such as the Warsaw Ghetto revolt of 1943 (Katalin Szokolay, És a varsói getto felkelt, 1983), the *Tiszaeszlar blood-libel case of 1882 (I. Sándor, A vizsgálat iratai, 1983), and the Transylvanian Sabbatarians (A. Kovács, Vallomás a székely szombatosok perében, 1983) were included in the programs of different publishing houses. Two Jewish painters, B. Pór and B. *Czobel, were remembered in illustrated monographs, published in 1980 and 1983, respectively.

A. Rózsa's Nürnbergi lágernapló ("Nuremberg diary," 1978) will help researchers of the Holocaust. Two authors, Gy. Moldova and P. Bárdos, continued their Holocaust novels with post-war accounts. An older author, I. Magyar, preferred to remember his happy childhood in A század gyermeke ("The Child of the Century," 1980), while G. Hegedüs starts the saga of his large and well-to-do family already in the 18th century in Elöjátekok egy önéletrajzhoz, ("Preludes to an Autobiography," 1982). In sharp contrast to the above, in Fekete karácsony ("Black Christmas," 1982), M. Zalka describes desperately poor, politically alert, anti-religious Jews in the inter-war period. Again another type, the Jewish artist-intellectual, is portrayed in Gy. S. Gál's posthumously published Atlantisz harangjai ("The Bells of Atlantis." 1982). Giving a frightful picture of Jewish forced-labor in war-torn Budapest of 1944–45, the book also contains new information on Jewish musicians, writers, and also on Jewish publishers.

Among several translated works the bitter-humorous, almost burlesque, Amikor nagyapám átsielt Finnországba ("When Grandpa was skiing over Finland," 1979, second edition 1983) by D. Katz stands out with its originality. It is a saga of a Russian Jewish family living in Finland from the beginning of the 1900s. The book was translated from the Finnish.

The poet, A. Mezei, reported his visit to Israel in 1982 in the literary weekly Élet és Irodalom, giving lyrical descriptions of the Israeli landscape. His Holocaust novel A csodatevö ("The Miracle-maker") was translated into Polish in 1979.

Cooperation between Israeli authors and artists and Hungarian publishers is not entirely absent. Gideon Hausner's book dealing with the 1961 Eichmann Trial in Jerusalem appeared in a Hungarian translation: L. Rapesányi's Jeruzsálem, legenda és törtenelem ("Jerusalem, Legend and History," 1984) was illustrated by Israeli artist Yossi Stern.

While works on Jewish subjects are an important part of today's literary scene in Hungary, the most significant book to date on the fate of Hungary's Jews during the Holocaust was published neither in Hungary, nor in the Hungarian language. The thoroughly comprehensive two-volume The Politics of Genocide (1981) of the American historian R.L. Braham still awaits Hungarian translation.

Around 1990 the flow of Holocaust literature slowed down and publishers turned to other subjects, among them to works of contemporary Israeli authors. Novels by Amos Oz, Aharon *Appelfeld, Ephraim *Kishon, and poems by Itamar Yaoz-Kest were translated into Hungarian and A.B. *Yehoshua's Szerelmesek ("Lovers"; Ha-Me'ahev (1976)) was the best seller of 1988.

A facsimile edition-de-luxe of an 18th-century Scroll of Esther (1988) produced originally in Italy, merited understandable appreciation. Another, more modest but long-awaited, well-researched illustrated publication, Magyarországi zsinagógák ("Synagogues in Hungary"), edited by L. Gerö, appeared in 1989.

Zsidókérdés, asszimiláció, antiszemitizmus ("The Jewish Question, Assimilation, Anti-Semitism," 1984), edited by P. Hanák, was the forerunner among several soul-searching, identity-seeking studies, such as Röpirat a zsidókérdésröl ("Pamphlet about the Jewish Question," 1989) by P. Kende and Kiválasztottak és elvegyülök ("The Chosen and the Intermingling") by L. Márton. The study Zsidóság az 1945 utáni Magyarországon ("Jews in Hungary after 1945," 1984) was the unique work of the non-Jewish sociologist V. Karády and appeared in a Paris-based emigré serial. T. Zinners's Az ébredök fénykora 19191923 ("The Golden Years of the Ébredök, 1919–1923," 1989) recalled the years of the beginnings of Hungarian ultranationalism and antisemitism.

Assimilation is a recurring theme in Hungarian Jewish literature and is prominent both in the autobiographical novel by A. Linksz, Harc a harmadik halállal ("Fighting the Third Death," 1990), and in Otto (1990), a fictionalized story based on the Viennese philosopher Otto *Weininger, by M. Hernádi. The latter was the editor of Szombat ("Shabbat"), an ambitious, but infrequently appearing, new periodical. An anthology, Mult és Jövö ("Past and Future"), edited by J. Köbànyai, strives to reach the high standards of the prewar Zionist weekly of the same name.

In the realm of light literature the novels of René Erdös, a baptized woman writer, which were popular in the 1920s, were reissued as were the adventure stories of J. Rejtö, whose popularity never ceased.

[Eva Kondor]

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

M. Herzog, A Biblia befolyása a magyar irodalomra a xvi és xvii században (1885); J. Zsoldos, Magyar irodalom és zsidóság (1943); idem, in: Libanon, 2 (1937), 63–65; A. Kecskeméti, A Zsidó a magyar népköltészetben és szinmü irodalomban (1896); M. Grünwald, Zsidó biedermeier (1937); A. Komlós, in: Libanon, 1 (1936); Magyar Zsidó lexikon (1929).; The New Hungarian Quarterly, 64 (1976), 138–50.


Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.