Endre Ady: “Let us go back to Asia” (1902)

The young Endre Ady in Nagyvárad

The young Endre Ady in Nagyvárad/Oradea

A friend called my attention to an article written by Endre Ady, the great Hungarian poet, in 1902. For those of you not familiar with Ady’s work, I ought say a few words about him. He came from an impoverished Calvinist petty noble family. The house he was born in was no different from those of the Romanian and Hungarian peasants in Érmindszent, today called Adyfalva in Hungarian and Ady Endre in Romanian. After he studied law for a while in Debrecen he became a journalist, but he left the city soon after. The town later became the symbol of backwardness in his poetry. He moved to Nagyvárad (Oradea) which in those days was considered to be a small but lively cultural center. I might add that Nagyvárad in those days had a very large Jewish population. About 15,000 out of the total population of 60,000. It was here that he met the love of his life, Adél Brüll, whom he called Léda in his poems, a rich married woman originally from Nagyvárad who was living in Paris at the time.

He became a correspondent for Nagyváradí Napló, the local daily. If one takes a look at Ady’s Összes prózai művei one must admire his prodigious output. There were days when he was able to write two or three short essays. On Christmas Day of 1901 he wrote even more. Here is the essay I received this morning. Translating it was difficult; I’m no Ady.

* * *

Let us go back to Asia

My beloved lordly [úri]  flesh and blood, the cup is full. We don’t have any right to this place here, so let’s go back to Asia!… Perhaps we will find a small territory somewhere, possibly far away where even the Asiatic people are not inclined toward culture. According to our ancient chroniclers we came here with Árpád, Álmos, and company. But now let’s go back following Stefi Rakovszky, Zoltán Lengyel, Pál Móricz, Jr.[members of parliament] and others. Let’s go while we can.

This lordly crowd with its rich history yesterday managed to sink to the lowest Balkanic level. What happened in parliament yesterday was an entertaining comedy even in its baseness. For a minute I would like to be a treasonous “nationality agitator” so I would be able to fully comprehend with true sensitivity the scandal that occurred in the Hungarian parliament. For such stupidity we were not ready although we have been prepared for everything that can happen here.

Does this country need a parliament? The knout, not parliament. Pardon me, not the knout. Nursery school, kindergarten, and lots of patience if there is anything left of this virtue in the twentieth century.

Vilmos Vázsonyi, the only Hungarian member of parliament who was chosen by self-respecting people, was not allowed to speak in the Hungarian parliament. The children who didn’t allow him to speak are angry because he disturbed their game of merils; the children who play dice at the expense of 19 million people.

This scandal of this most Balkanic parliament opened our eyes. It uncovered the secret that would have been better not ever to be known. We found out that the children of the Hungarian parliament are all the same. It doesn’t matter whether they take their oath to the two-headed eagle, to the dewy pimple of Kálmán Széll, the hat of Lajos Kossuth, the slippers of the infallible Holy Father, it doesn’t matter to what. If one scratches just a little the thick lining of their abstruse cerebrum suddenly they are swarming in front of us in their pitiful similarity.

What did Vázsonyi say? Cultural beasts? In the divine name of culture let’s veto this title. For the sake of the reputation of the beasts because they always dare to show their teeth. Not only when they have something to do with a democratic member of parliament.

My beloved lordly flesh and blood. Asia roared in you yesterday. The nostalgia, the wishful desire of the nomadic, the brutish men broke into a full-fledged attack. I wasn’t there but I see the picture. In the middle there is a goaded single man of intellect. He is knowledgeable, he is ambitious, he is daring, he is determined, they hate him. And–oh, what a horror–his ancestry once-upon-a-time crossed the Jordan River. That little Jewish giant among us. This giant became famous overnight and today thousands adore him and he is knowledgeable. This indeed is the most awful part of it! This man dares to be in our ignorant crowd! And on top of it all, he is Jewish! There he stands confused in the middle of the crowd. A shrill invective can be heard. Zoltán Lengyel yelled, this young  simpleton with insufficient intelligence who in another country couldn’t even be cleaning silverware.  And Mr. Leszkay and Mr. Rakovszky, and other well known idiots. And Vázsonyi leaves this house of comedy in a one-horse buggy.

My beloved lordly flesh and blood. The game of nine-men’s merils that you lose hurts, doesn’t it? Isn’t the slothfulness of the eastern nomadic mentality came to the surface in order to annihilate  this man with instruments we brought along from the Crimea because we can’t fight with his weapons, learning and knowledge? Isn’t it so, my beloved lordly flesh and blood? Because this is the only way to excuse this scandal.

If at all. But not really. Other people are watching us. They see our inability to progress; they see that with Samoyed virtues we are sprawling and wrangling in the middle of Europe as a little piece of  the forgotten Middle Ages. They see that we are empty and they find us wanting. If we want to do something spectacular then we hit a Jew. As soon as we become sober we rush to drink the sweet drink of the colored glory of  the so-called one thousand years. We are idle and good-for-nothings. The parliament, the rock fortress of great nations, is for us good only to discredit it. Where will this lead, my beloved lordly flesh and blood? Because I’m Ur-magyar, not a Jewish peddler [handlézsidó] whom you call everybody who is superior to you. The end of it will be that we will be shown the door from here as if we had never been here before.

Let’s just once be scheming. Let’s go back to Asia. There we will not have to listen to uncomfortably truthful democrats. We will hunt, fish, play a quiet domestic card game and we can meditate about a certain beautiful one-thousand-year-old dream.

Let’s go back, my beloved lordly flesh and blood. Here the letter, the railway kill us. Moreover, there are too many Jews here who keep urging us to go forward. Down with the frills, swords, blessed rosaries, cards, flasks, greyhounds, race-horses, and ancestors! Let’s go back to Asia!

Nagyváradi Napló, January 31, 1902

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43 comments

  1. Ady: “They see our inability to progress…”

    I think there is some room for optimism. Ady speaks of ONE person that stood against all others in parliament (and perhaps also society), by now this group is much larger. (But it has to learn to communicate among each other.)

  2. Oh my.
    God forbid that schools today should be teaching Ady instead of Wass or Nyiro–the soul and spirit of present day mustachios.

  3. Off-Topic (but I will insert also in the KLS article of a few days ago:

    A TASTE OF WIKIPEDIA

    Warning

    Your recent editing history shows that you are currently engaged in an edit war. Being involved in an edit war can result in your being blocked from editing—especially if you violate the three-revert rule, which states that an editor must not perform more than three reverts on a single page within a 24-hour period. Undoing another editor’s work—whether in whole or in part, whether involving the same or different material each time—counts as a revert. Also keep in mind that while violating the three-revert rule often leads to a block, you can still be blocked for edit warring—even if you don’t violate the three-revert rule—should your behavior indicate that you intend to continue reverting repeatedly.

    To avoid being blocked, instead of reverting please consider using the article’s talk page to work toward making a version that represents consensus among editors. See BRD for how this is done. You can post a request for help at a relevant noticeboard or seek dispute resolution. In some cases, you may wish to request temporary page protection.

    Harnad: It is not clear who sent the above warning: The notification seems to come from User:Biruitorul but the warning is unsigned. Also not clear why I am being warned, since I have added text and Biruitorul (and others) have deleted it rather than first discussing it with me in the talk page, as per WP policy. I have several times either modified or reverted what Biruitorul and others have deleted, so it is not at all evident why I am being warned about edit warring… (In any case, before receiving this warning, I had already initiated dispute resolution request. Not sure what to do next… –Stevan Harnad 19:04, 24 March 2013 (UTC)

    Biruitorul: I wrote a balanced summary of the recent amendment to the Hungarian constitution: one paragraph of description, one of criticism.

    Harnad: The summary is unfortunately far from balanced. It states the Hungarian government’s point of view and allows that there were some points of controversy. The substance and evidence behind the points of controversy is left out. Those missing substantive points are exactly the ones Professor Scheppele made — most recently at the Washington Helsinki Commission Hearing in Washington last week[1]. And those are the points Biruitorul keeps deleting, even though, word for word, they are no longer than his pro-governnment summary. I first posted the points as a direct quote. Then the objection was against long direct quotes instead of summaries, so I replaced them by a light paraphrase. Then that was deleted too.

    Biruitorul: Given the size of the rest of the article, I think this is an appropriate dimension. Also, this is not that significant of an event – yes, it’s important, but it isn’t, as Harnad claims, an “important, ongoing historic event… gaining more and more attention and weight worldwide”. With all due respect, the last time anyone really cared about internal developments in Hungary was the Ajka alumina plant accident.

    Harnad: I think the daily growing international press attention, EU and US governmental attention and academic attention to the new Hungarian constitution is ample evidence that there is indeed worldwide concern about internal developments in Hungary.

    Biruitorul: I vociferously object to the inclusion of the blog post in question. For one, no matter how many times Harnad repeats the phrase “International constitutional scholar and Hungary specialist, Professor Kim Lane Scheppele”, that does not automatically mean we should be quoting her. And it’s slightly misleading to say the comments appeared on “Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman’s New York Times Blog”; there is Paul-Krugman-as-economist, and there is Paul Krugman-as-politically-opinionated-individual, and it’s the latter who mainly runs the blog. The comments are partisan in tone, they are on a blog (i.e., not peer reviewed), they are editorial content – in short, they are not relevant to the topic.

    Harnad: Professor Scheppele’s analysis has also been presented to Senator Cardin’s Committee (last week) and is now published in the record of the US Helsinki Commision[2] (Critiques by others have also been published in the official working documents of the European Parliament[3][4][5][6] and by the Venice Commission on Hungary[7].)

    Biruitorul: And I’d like to point out that Harnad has spread around the exact same blog quote at Second Cabinet of Viktor Orbán, Politics of Hungary, Constitutional Court of Hungary, Fidesz, Viktor Orbán and, most ludicrously, given that it covers 2000 years, History of Hungary.

    Harnad: I don’t know what WP policy is about information that is pertinent to multiple articles. Cross-referring might be a solution, but I think the passages are short enough so it is more useful and informative to include them at the appropriate point of each of these articles. (And, yes, I would say that the Hungarian constitutional controversy is pertinent to the history of Hungary too. It would be good to hear other views on that, though. Please let’s keep the question of whether the critiques of the new Hungarian Constitution should appear in the article about the new Hungarian Constitution separate from the question of what other articles they should also appear in.)

    Biruitorul: Does Kim Lane Scheppele (note the red link) really have to be mentioned in all those articles? I happen to care about the article on the Constitution the most because I wrote it (and no, I’m not claiming I own it, but it’s natural I should care), but this should be addressed. Harnad’s strong feelings on the topic shouldn’t be making a soapbox out of a whole spectrum of articles. – Biruitorul Talk 16:17, 24 March 2013 (UTC)

    Harnad: Biruitorul may have written most of the Constitution of Hungary article, but a new Hungarian Constitution has been written recently, and an internationally controversial one. And, yes, Professor Scheppele [8] [9] [10] [11] is probably today’s foremost expert on international constitutional law and the new Hungarian Constitution. Why on earth should the summary of the main points of her critique — now being consulted and discussed worldwide — be deleted from the WP article about the Constitution of Hungary? –Stevan Harnad 01:11, 25 March 2013 (UTC)

  4. Oh my, I can see now how fast across the country they will change the name of elementary schools, high schools, squares, roads and streets.

  5. Stevan Harnad: I assume you know that you are dealing with someone, who on this page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Biruitorul describes him/herself – most likely himself, otherwise she would call herself Biruitoarea – (among other things) as follows: “I believe there is but one China, and her temporary capital is Taipei.” This must be someone totally disconnected from reality…

    I also assume you know that Biruitorul is the Romanian word for The Conqueror.

  6. I guess we will indeed go back to Asia.

    Yesterday’s polls, small by-elections in smallish municiplaities were terrible for the democratic left.

    Fidesz managed to win, and not only win, but in one case it increased its advantage (and in Dunakeszi, it got almost twice as many votes the second place candidate).

    And this is three years after getting into government, with all what we have seen.

    If they are this strong now, they will get much stronger as the psychology of the election cycles is that the tired voters start to get back to their party of choice and get more enthusiastic as the contest is approaching so popularity of the incumbent is at the minimum these days of the cycle (althogh perhaps it already Fidesz’s popularity started to increase from its minium).

    Not only the figures underscore the combined advantage of the right (Fidesz and Jobbik), it also shows that MSZP or Bajnai, try as they might could not get a couple of hundred voters to the booths. Their machinery versus that of Fidesz is so inferior, it is almost beyond belief.

    And note that for the left – provided they can combine into one entity – need at least a 6-7% point victory over the combined right just to get a simple majoirty which in the current constitutional setup you cant even govern (this is the built-in advantage of Fidesz under the new elections system).

    This means that we are heading towards a huge, even landslide victory (at least as the mandates in Parliament are concerned, they may only get 35-40% of the votes cast) for Fidesz.

    MSZP and Bajnai are so far from just realising against whom they are fighting. With ‘normal’ strategy they cannot win. For David, accepting Goliath’s rules means a sure defeat.

  7. @ Greg,

    “If they are this strong now, they will get much stronger as the psychology of the election cycles….”

    Be assured that Orwell is cringing (wherever he might be) to note
    that fear and recompense are all that the little piggies know.
    Fidesz has had sufficient time, and set the necessary examples,
    that ‘betrayers’–towns and regions–will be punished monetarily and otherwise. This the selfish little Magyars know well.

  8. Petofi: “betrayers — will be punished”
    How can these betrayers look into the eyes of the children?
    Those are the betrayed generations of Hungarians again.

  9. Freedom 2101 :
    Petofi: “betrayers — will be punished”
    How can these betrayers look into the eyes of the children?
    Those are the betrayed generations of Hungarians again.

    Well, yes, this was my exact question to our in-laws (with whom we share two grand-children) and who are rabid Orban/Fidesz supporters. “Don’t you care what kind of
    world your grand-children will live in?” But they’re whole-hearted believers and nothing (so far) can shake them. We rarely meet nowadays.

  10. gdfxx :
    Stevan Harnad: I assume you know that you are dealing with someone, who on this page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Biruitorul describes him/herself – most likely himself, otherwise she would call herself Biruitoarea – (among other things) as follows: “I believe there is but one China, and her temporary capital is Taipei.” This must be someone totally disconnected from reality…
    I also assume you know that Biruitorul is the Romanian word for The Conqueror.

    Well, that’s a relief. At least it makes it less likely that Biruitorul is deleting the KLS critiques because he is a Fidesz-Jobbik irredentist! Perhaps he is just a bit of a pedant, in whicih case there is some hope that this may still be settled amicably. Here is the latest round:

    Biruitorul: Just a minute, please: much of what you’ve said distorts or misinterprets my statements. The optimal sort of references are readily identified at WP:RS – “articles, books, monographs, or research papers that have been vetted by the scholarly community” (it’s probably a little too early for those) or “news reporting from well-established news outlets” (of those there have been plenty, and the article touches on them). The problem with Krugman’s blog is not that he is a liberal (I would object as strongly to citing, say, the blog of conservative laureate Mario Vargas Llosa); it’s that it is a blog, with all that WP:BLOGS has to say about that, and his prize doesn’t wave away that issue. In theory, I don’t object to reporting what Scheppele has to say, provided it’s in in an appropriate venue, say this one. But as far as criticisms worth mentioning go, those have been made, in descending order of relevance, by opposition Hungarian politicians, by European-level ones, and by American law professors. I’m not saying the last are completely unworthy of mentioning, but the focus really should be on what Hungarians themselves have to say, given that that has been given most weight by available news coverage. Attila Mesterházy and Gordon Bajnai may not be legal experts, but they are where the attention of reliable sources has been focused. – Biruitorul Talk 06:04, 25 March 2013 (UTC)

    Harnad: One of the core problems at issue in the critiques of the Hungarian Constitution is the freedom of the Hungarian press and media. The international criticisms of the Constitution are barely covered by the Hungarian press [9], precisely because of the threat of fines (or worse) owing to the Media Law under dispute. Hungarian press coverage is extremely unbalanced, by WP standards. I also find it very puzzling that you would find a Budapest trade newspaper a more reliable source about the views expressed in the US Helsinki Commision than the official records of the Commission itself. (It would also mean a lot less coverage of important current events in WP if they had to wait for published peer-reviewed learned-journal articles to be cited before they could be described…) –Stevan Harnad 11:06, 25 March 2013 (UTC)

  11. Samoyed Superpower

    Perhaps in a firm, time-tested Western democracy a 2/3 supermajority with constitution-changing power would not be such a risk, but in the Balkan Backwater that Hungary is alas repeatedly proving itself to be, unable to shake off the dregs of the Dark Ages, supermajority power, conferred by a bare majority of a minority of voters (53% of about 33%, reportedly, and based on gerrymandered proportionalities — and since sunk to only about 25%) can, as we are now witnessing, become the royal road to ruin.

  12. Sorry Eva, there is some merit to this analysis but it is not a very good one….. and then the final conclusions is a total fail.

  13. An :

    Sorry Eva, there is some merit to this analysis but it is not a very good one….. and then the final conclusions is a total fail.

    I just thought it was applicable for today’s situation when Orbán wants to turn toward the East instead of the West.

  14. I learned two new words: Merils and knout.

    Thank you for translating this. It reinforces my conviction that the societal problems in Hungary today cannot be blamed on communism; their roots run far, far deeper than 1949. If you change the names and the location of the newspaper, Ady could have been writing yesterday.

  15. Pibroch :
    I learned two new words: Merils and knout.
    Thank you for translating this. It reinforces my conviction that the societal problems in Hungary today cannot be blamed on communism; their roots run far, far deeper than 1949. If you change the names and the location of the newspaper, Ady could have been writing yesterday.

    “Nine Men’s Morris is a strategy board game for two players that emerged from the Roman Empire.The game is also known as Nine Man Morris, Mill, Mills, The Mill Game, Merels, Merrills, Merelles, Marelles, and Morelles in English.”

    Hungarian name: malom.

  16. http://aristotle.5mp.eu/web.php?a=aristotle&o=Zklf6SNpIF

    The analysis of László Kéri about Orbán just prior to 2002 is uncanny, spot-on. (I am a bit surprised as he never seemed to be very insightful to me, although I never really followed him).

    One point should be emphasised: the core group of 30-40 people are all, without exception, lawyers. It’s partly a chicken-egg issue, but lawyers are educated to be zealous and thinking always in set of clear rules and procedures, but the profession also attracts people with an affinity to such behaviour (to do anything for a client, even if the other side, your adversary dispises you).

    Economists, business people, administrators, teachers etc. cannot possible understand this lawyerly way of thinking and the value system a lawyer has (should have), hence the absolute and utter misunderstanding of Orbán and co. even after their tenure between 1998-2002, by the opposition or foreign politicians or analysts. The opposition doesn’t even know what they don’t know (ie. the lawyerly world view). But for them to understand this thinking would be like telling a man to imagine he is a woman or a white person to imagine he is an inner city black person. A non-lawyer has no idea.

    The core Fidesz group is at the height of their power (with Handó as the co-head of the judiciary, Stumpf at the constitutinal court, Simicska the most influential person after Orbán, Kövér the de facto head of the intelligence services, Áder as president, interestintly the shadowy and powerful Tibor Győri, currently the chief legal counsel to Orbán, was mentioned in the article, his wife is also a influential appellate court judge, most likely she will deal with László Kéri’s statement whether Jobbik is a neo-nazi party) and form an extremely powerful network that is unparalleled in Europe (except for Russia) so again nobody really has an experience to which to compare them.

    Fidesz as a party, is more or less an army, and this core group – together with some new generation people like János Lázár, Antal Rogán – is a kind of mafia.

    They have the same roots (all are from the country side, lower/lower middle class people originally – not any more, f.e. Orbán’s father is a billionaire enterpreneur in HUF), married among themselves and exist solely as a result of their common background and memories. Alone, they are nobodies, but as part of Fidesz they are who they are. So they will never leave as it would be a betrayal of their whole personalities, it just does not happen. Also they cannot disappoint each other (hence Áder’s complete loyalty to Orbán), you cannot possiblyy disappoint your best friends. People criticize Áder, rightly, but try to understand that for him not to sign would have been similar to beating his frail mother, that is against his very being. He never even considered that he would not sign. It does not work that way, only outsiders could think that he is independent from his best friends. These people still go to shopping together, celebrate birthdays together and so on. They will never be disloyal.

    Stumpf is a bit aloof, also older, so he could be somewhat more independent (and he is allowed to be), but he is also a trusted Fidesz-supporter who will never leave his protege behind.

    This group will only retire and die out but will never leave on their own.

  17. tappanch :

    Pibroch :
    I learned two new words: Merils and knout.
    Thank you for translating this. It reinforces my conviction that the societal problems in Hungary today cannot be blamed on communism; their roots run far, far deeper than 1949. If you change the names and the location of the newspaper, Ady could have been writing yesterday.

    “Nine Men’s Morris is a strategy board game for two players that emerged from the Roman Empire.The game is also known as Nine Man Morris, Mill, Mills, The Mill Game, Merels, Merrills, Merelles, Marelles, and Morelles in English.”

    Hungarian name: malom.

    Don’t worry, I had to look it up too.

  18. “This scandal of this most Balkanic parliament opened our eyes. It uncovered the secret that would have been better not ever to be known. We found out that the children of the Hungarian parliament are all the same. It doesn’t matter whether they take their oath to the two-headed eagle, to the dewy pimple of Kálmán Széll, the hat of Lajos Kossuth, the slippers of the infallible Holy Father, it doesn’t matter to what. If one scratches just a little the thick lining of their abstruse cerebrum suddenly they are swarming in front of us in their pitiful similarity.”

    The most striking observation: The children of the Hungarian parliament are all the same!

    Is it possible that today’s Fidesz, Jobbik, MSzP, Egyutt and others are also all alike? That would explain why the opposition parties cannot unite in resistance to Orbán’s carte blanche constitution. Wouldn’t they mind to govern by such a constitution themselves?

  19. The opposition cannot unite because it is very easy to bribe people. Rare is the politician, in Hungary, who will not take it (Gyurcsany, Bokros, Bauer…and a few others).

  20. As of 5:42 PM, March 25, the mega-amendment of the “basic law” has not been promulgated in the Magyar Kozlony.

  21. Reblogged this on eVitae and commented:
    Magyarország: itt felejtett középkor. Ki hinné, hogy 110 év múlva kb. ugyanott tart az ország, mint amikor Ady Endre fakadt ki az akkori magyar politikai kupleráj miatt a “Menjünk vissza Ázsiába” c., a Nagyváradi Naplóban 1902. január 31-én megjelent írásában. (http://mek.oszk.hu/05500/05551/html/adypr0183.html)
    Nem lehet eléggé megköszönni S.Balogh Évának, hogy Ady háborgásait az angolul értők (vagyis a nagyvilág) számára is elérhetővé tette, a múlt és jelenkori magyar politikai mocsárról szóló, rendkívül tartalmas tudósításai keretében.
    Many thanks to Eva S. Balogh for her great work.

  22. tappanch :

    As of 5:42 PM, March 25, the mega-amendment of the “basic law” has not been promulgated in the Magyar Kozlony.

    Perhaps there is a retreat here too. I will be writing today about two others: law on churches will be “modified” and no amendment to the electoral law that would keep the statistics of voters abroad secret.

  23. tappanch :

    One third of the graduating high-school students will go abroad for university studies at the best schools in Budapest

    http://eduline.hu/erettsegi_felveteli/2013/3/19/Egyre_tobb_diak_jelentkezik_kulfoldi_egyete_Q4SVQW

    And the best students most likely. That was the case in ELTE Faculty of Arts in 1956. There were two of us in the whole junior class who were “tudományos egyszakosok.” Both of us left. My colleague teaches at the University of California.

  24. tappanch :
    As of 5:42 PM, March 25, the mega-amendment of the “basic law” has not been promulgated in the Magyar Kozlony.

    Perhaps that’s because Áder only signed it half an hour ago.

  25. Eva S. Balogh :

    tappanch :
    As of 5:42 PM, March 25, the mega-amendment of the “basic law” has not been promulgated in the Magyar Kozlony.

    Perhaps there is a retreat here too. I will be writing today about two others: law on churches will be “modified” and no amendment to the electoral law that would keep the statistics of voters abroad secret.

    Unfortunately, they have not retreated. Ader signed it today, and it was published in the official journal since my last entry two and a half hours ago.

    Here is the final version of this infamous text of Werboczism:

    http://www.magyarkozlony.hu/pdf/16508

  26. Eva: “Ady is becoming more and more relevant.”

    Unfortunately. He has always been one of my favorite Hungarian poets, but I hate to see how timely he has become.

  27. An :

    Eva: “Ady is becoming more and more relevant.”

    Unfortunately. He has always been one of my favorite Hungarian poets, but I hate to see how timely he has become.

    Anita, I’m surprised. I had the feeling that Ady has lost its appeal in the last fifty years or so. My father who graduated from high school in 1918 told me that in his school the students were sharply divided between those who loved Ady and those who hated him. The dividing line was ideology. The liberals adored Ady, the conservatives hated him.

    As I was translating that piece I kept asking myself: Where did this young man come from: Érmindszent? Zilah? Debrecen? Nagyvárad? I don’t think he set foot in Budapest before 1902. If I had more time I would read more of his articles. Of course, the problem is that one has to know politics at the turn of the century on a day-to-day basis in order to understand everything Ady was talking about. And that’s not my period. Rather 19191-1910.

  28. Eva, you are blowing my cover here! 🙂 That’s ok, it’s not much of a cover, anyway.

    That’s interesting about Ady. I am sure he was a very controversial figure in 1918! I’m not that much familiar with his writings as a journalist, though, so i’m happy that you posted one of his essays here on the blog.

  29. Ady is also my favorite poet, I guess I inherited this from my parents. For those who are interested, most of his poetic and non-poetic writings are available on-line at http://mek.oszk.hu/, by typing in Ady Endre into the szerzo” box in their search engine and then clicking on the keres button.

  30. Stevan Harnad :
    Samoyed Superpower
    Perhaps in a firm, time-tested Western democracy a 2/3 supermajority with constitution-changing power would not be such a risk, but in the Balkan Backwater that Hungary is alas repeatedly proving itself to be, unable to shake off the dregs of the Dark Ages, supermajority power, conferred by a bare majority of a minority of voters (53% of about 33%, reportedly, and based on gerrymandered proportionalities — and since sunk to only about 25%) can, as we are now witnessing, become the royal road to ruin.

    You have summed up the situation perfectly.

  31. Kirsten :
    Ady: “They see our inability to progress…”
    I think there is some room for optimism. Ady speaks of ONE person that stood against all others in parliament (and perhaps also society), by now this group is much larger. (But it has to learn to communicate among each other.)

    I think no any reason for optimism. We can it learn from the book “Hungary Between Democracy and Authoritarianism” by Paul Lendvai (Deutsch original: “Mein verspieltes Land”, Hungarian title is: “Eltékozolt ország”). Furthermore, it is clear to one living unfortunately in Hungary without reading the book.

  32. Evitae: My comment makes sense only when it is read in context of my other comments. So I am sorry if it could be misunderstood. I am generally of the opinion that in Hungary, those who are in favour of democracy face a very complicated task, not least because it is so widespread to define “Hungary” and “Hungarians” in rather conservative, national and historical terms, and to threaten people with a more modern outlook with exclusion from the “pure” nation. The history of democracy in Hungary is not really long. But more modern ideas have been spread by Hungarians also and could be used for a more modern definition of the Hungarian nation! (Even if so far they have not been found compelling by a critical mass of the citizens.) My approach to the current situation is to concentrate most on those who want to create a democratic Hungary, because no democracy can survive without active, democratically minded citizens. People who want change need to mobilise, need to get together and need to agree on minimum requirements of a democratic Hungary. I understood already that most democrats are quite depressed currently, and yet there is no other way than to try to organise those who want to stop this mad regime. And in that respect, it is helpful to know that the proportion of the society that does want democracy (or at least that knows that it wants to belong to the “West”) is larger than 100 years ago. This I consider to be without doubt, and this IS a start. What has to be done is to search actively for ways out of this calamity. There is no use in repeating how lost the whole thing is and that people cannot do anything, this I consider to be part of “national folklore”. Change may not come overnight, but it will not come at all if people sit at home and lament in private.

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