Mária Schmidt exploits Imre Kertész to bolster her own historical revisionism

Mária Schmidt, in an interview with Olga Kálmán on ATV yesterday, claimed that her writing an article about Imre Kertész, the Nobel Prize winning Hungarian author, at this particular time had nothing to do with the news released at the same time that Kertész will be one of the recipients of the Order of St. Stephen, currently the highest decoration the Hungarian state can bestow. It was pure coincidence. She just happened to be reading a lot of Kertész, especially two of his lesser known works, and suddenly it occurred to her that Imre Kertész has been totally neglected by left-of-center liberal intellectuals. Showing her contempt for these people, she kept calling them the “szoclib” crowd. And why do these people neglect him? Because they, who previously served the Kádár regime, cannot forgive Kertész for equating Soviet-style totalitarian dictatorship with Nazism.

Schmidt is dismayed that especially as we commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Hungarian Holocaust Imre Kertész’s name is hardly mentioned when, after all, he is the most famous Hungarian Holocaust survivor. Mária Schmidt is correct that Imre Kertész does not figure large in public discourse nowadays, but I disagree with her on the reasons for this relative neglect.

First, I would like to set the record straight. Kertész, after receiving the Nobel Prize, was attacked not by the “szoclib” crowd but by the extreme right, while the more moderate right just ignored him. In his diaries Kertész does complain about some Hungarian Jews on the left who were not enthusiastic about his receiving the prize, but they were few and far between. Those who actually burned his books were the far right. Mária Schmidt says not a word about this right-wing reaction to Kertész. When Olga Kálmán asked her about this omission, the only thing she could say was that she didn’t stoop so low as to mention them. A lame excuse. I might add that one of those right wingers who doesn’t consider Kertész to be a Hungarian writer will also receive a decoration from the government tomorrow.

And now a few thoughts about the absence of Imre Kertész from the public discourse of the last few months over the events of 1944. The debate has been about history, historical truth. Imre Kertész cannot add anything to our knowledge on that score. The argument is over the role of Hungary in the drama. Kertész is not only not interested in that topic but has a most unhistorical interpretation of the Holocaust. Here are a couple of examples of his rather startling remarks about the Shoa. “I have never considered the Holocaust a German-Jewish war; rather the method of a totalitarian regime,” he said in his famous interview entitled “Ich war ein Holocaust-Clown” that appeared in Die Zeit in September 2013. What can someone who is interested in the history of the Holocaust do with such a definition?  Not much. Or “I’m not interested in literature. Literature is of secondary importance. I only wanted to find the language to describe the phenomenon of totalitarianism. My whole work is about the alienated man of the 20th century.” Again, for those interested in questions surrounding the Hungarian Holocaust these words are not exactly helpful.

Holocaust3

I think that Kertész was on the right track when he blamed his relative neglect in discussions centering on the Holocaust on his “radical thinking.” He is indeed radical when he talks about the “ambitious generation of Holocaust liars, who rely on sentimentalism, assimilative dictatorship and profit-oriented business.” About whom is Kertész talking? Or, elsewhere: “The main point here is not what happened to the Jewish people but what happened to European values.” Of course, it is very important to consider what happened to European values, but how can anyone say that what happened to the Jewish people is not the main point?

Well, Mária Schmidt can and did. In one of her earlier works she stated that “World War II is not about the Jews, not about genocide. However regrettable, the Holocaust and the destruction or rescue of the Jews was of minor importance, one could say a marginal issue, which was not among the military goals of either side.”

It’s no wonder that Schmidt found a kindred soul in Kertész when she discovered quotations that support her own revisionist history. She quotes Kertész as saying that “the Holocaust does not divide but unites us, because it increasingly shows the universal nature of the experience.” For Schmidt this sentence provides justification for the government’s decision to lump together all the victims of the German occupation. Yes, I know it’s a stretch, but I’m sure this is how her mind works. In her earlier writings on the Holocaust she wrote about the Jews’ “inherited” suffering. After all, the survivors’ children and grandchildren are no longer victims, she claims. Kertész’s views support her thesis that there is nothing special about the suffering of the Jews. After all, everybody was touched by these dictatorships and everyone who lived through them suffered.

All in all, it seems to me that Schmidt is trying to use a writer’s ahistorical views to justify her own revisionist view of history. Kertész’s main concerns are philosophical and moral. He is searching for the meaning of his experiences. I’m sure that one day there will be many studies of Kertész’s philosophical ruminations, but Kertész cannot help us when it comes to a historical evaluation of the Holocaust.

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47 comments

  1. Kertesz is a writer of substantial gifts in the narrative mode. He is understandably, given his own personal history, a complex figure in the history of Hungarian literature. This is so even for those who have the substantial historical knowledge to come anywhere close to understanding him. As for his nonliterary utterances, they do not qualify as philosophy in any accepted way at all; not analytical, not philosophy of ideas, nor philosophy of history either specific or general.

  2. I watched the Schmidt interview on ATV. She claims that according to Kertesz Sorstalansag is not about the holocaust but about the Kadar regime. I don’t know if Kertesz said this or not but if he did, I find it difficult to believe that many others share this view. Schmidt states that nobody can take away the right of an author to interpret his own writing. This is true. However, that does not mean – in my opinion – that readers have to share that view.

  3. In fact what Kertesz said in many interviews expressed that Fateless is about “the process whereby totalitarian states of all stripes strip people of their fates, of free choices, and thus in essence treat people as children. From that perspective a child’s view is the most authentic approach one can take.” Since it is about totalitarianism it includes nazism, communism, Stalinism, and very much foreshadowed Orbanism, but then again that is not something that Schmidt would ever advertise.

    I hope someone would kindly bring into the attention of Schmidt and Orban of what the healthy Kertesz things of them. I also quoted in a previous comment of mine how Kertesz feels about the Holocaust-business…. Certainly Orban and Schmidt are part of that venture. THere is no way Kertesz would accept this prize if he would understand….

    Here are some snippets from the New Yorker JANUARY 8, 2013
    The Frightening Hungarian Crackdown
    BY HARI KUNZRU
    Please read the whole article here: http://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/the-frightening-hungarian-crackdown

    “a Hungarian writer friend e-mailed to tell me that Kertész’s decision [to house his archive not in his native Hungary but, rather, in Germany] was also driven by more negative concerns:

    I’m afraid there is something more to it: he has also good reasons to believe that in Hungary his legacy wouldn’t be treated with as much respect as in Germany, as he is regarded by the current political elite as an “unHungarian” and then I’ve been euphemistic. For example, currently his work is not part of the Hungarian national education programme, due to some changes in school material in which, at the same time, three famously antisemitic writers have been included.

    My friend has asked to remain anonymous, as he fears that if he is publicly identified as a critic of the government it could cause problems for him and the company where he works. His fears appear to be well founded. Across Hungary, the cultural scene is in a state of crisis.”

    “Hungarian PEN, which, despite its mandate to protect freedom of speech, has become closely associated with the Orbán government. In 2012, Hungarian PEN instituted a fifty-thousand-euro government-funded literary prize, which it offered to Lawrence Ferlinghetti. The American turned it down, stating that “the policies of this right-wing regime tend toward authoritarian rule and the consequent curtailing of freedom of expression and civil liberties… I hereby refuse the prize in all its forms.” The activist Elie Wiesel has also returned a Hungarian award, in protest against the attendance of government officials at the reburial of a writer who was a member of the National Socialist Arrow Cross Party, which, for a few months at the end of the Second World War, led a brief and bloody “government of national unity,” murdering between ten and fifteen thousand of their countrymen and deporting around eighty thousand to Auschwitz.”

    “Two internationally renowned novelists I contacted for this article declined to comment. One writer who would speak is the poet and translator George Szirtes, who lives in the U.K. “The government has been looking to impose itself and its view of what it considers to be ‘the nation’ on not only the political sphere but the cultural, too,” he told me. “In effect, it wants to return the country to the condition of the thirties… the atmosphere is full of hatred.” Szirtes laments “the creation of a climate that seems to me inimical to the country I have loved and admired. Little by little, I find every part of it is being dismantled and banished.”

    Far from being an unforced reconciliation with his former persecutors, Kertész’s decision to give his archive to Germany should appear as an urgent warning sign. Unlike Germany, which has transformed itself through a national process of Vergangenheitsbewältigung (“coming to terms with the past”), Hungary remains in a wistful, toxic relationship with the nineteen-thirties, with a fantasy of Jewish conspiracy and national moral decline. As the memory of the iron curtain fades and Europe recenters itself, Hungary’s fascist resurgence should be a matter of concern for all. Kertész’s own reaction is to quote Karl Kraus: “The situation is desperate, but not serious.”

  4. London Calling!

    It has occurred to me that ‘award giving’ in Hungary has become rather problematic.

    So many awards have now either been refused or retuned that the government finds it difficult to suppress the publicity of the international community.

    It is difficult to ‘sound out’ the awardee beforehand without courting the risk of negative publicity.

    The only guaranteed way of awarding an honour that won’t be refused is to give it to a non campos mentis person – someone very sick.

    Yes, very ill people can’t express their true feelings about – or refuse – an award.

    Nor can dead people!

    Watch out for some more cynical posthumous awards.

    Regards

    Charlie

  5. Just imagine: somebody at this moment out there decides to do some research on Hungary…he Googles Hungary and comes across the Hungarian Spectrum…and what does he find?

    The Hungarian Government wants to reward a Nobel Price winning Hungarian Jewish writer with the highest possible honor, who happens to “hate” Hungary because of the same government, who wants to honor him…oh, and the International Jewish Community is hoping that he’s going to refuse the honor. Mr Kertesz (who spent considerable time in Germany), returned to Hungary on his own accord to enjoy his twilight years amongst the very people he supposed to “hate”. It can’t get any more twisted than this, with all due respect to all the commentators! (I’m reading Faithless in Hungarian at the moment)

  6. Wolfi: Why does this remind me of Orbán?

    Because he did a similar thing when his daughter lost her phone during her wedding.

  7. OT

    I notice that the MNB purchased Bajcsy-Zsilinszky út 78. on August 1.

    http://index.hu/gazdasag/2014/08/17/ingatlanbirodalmat_epit_az_mnb/

    I wonder why they did this. Is it because the main tenant is PWC (one of the big four).

    Conspiracy mode on:
    By owning the building they can legally snooping around in the audit and tax files of foreign firms, and install camera’s to spy on these people.
    Conspiracy mode off.

    I wonder if they are not breaking their own Articles of Association when speculating in Real Estate and therefore, be vulnerable to the moods of the Real Estate Market.

  8. Eva S Balogh: Yes, I know it’s a stretch, but I’m sure this is how her mind works.

    Other instances of that method can be found in the paragraph about Camus. It’s quite easy to spot because Camus, contrary to Kertész, has been very committed politically. Mz Schmidt applies one historical context to another, while ignoring key factors. Her little ‘martyr-building’ business apparently never stops, and wasn’t she occupying several official positions, it could be entertaining – and regarding Camus all the more ironic in the current Hungarian context when one thinks about what he wrote on Christian historicism and Marxist historicism being two of a kind. 🙂

    Maria Schmidt: The publication of [The First Man] written by the writer who died in a car accident in 1960 was postponed for this long so that the enemies of the deceased cannot use the unfinished work as the basis of additional attacks.

    Gallimard had no problem in publishing the first two volumes of the Carnets in the sixties, then an early novel in the 70s, etc. By all accounts, the publication of the novel The First Man was postponed because 1) of his widow’s decision 2) it is both ‘intimate’ and very unfinished 3) the Algerian War – a subject which, while it can be tied to the French debates about communism, also has another dimension entirely, which is ignored here.

    Maria Schmidt: This precaution was necessary because Camus had been almost totally isolated long before his death in his country, because he turned against the French Left that included adherents of Socialism who supported Communism.

    My Hungarian is not good enough to see if it’s a bad translation, but the english sentence conveys an idea that is simply wrong.

    Firstly, Camus was always a left-winger on the French political spectrum. From his early short years in the Algerian Communist Party in the late 30s (he was soon expelled as the PCA, following a Staline-Laval agreement, had then agreed to stop supporting any fight against colonialism), to his last day. He never ceased to publish political articles in widely circulating newspapers, never ceased to participate in collective leftist political commentary reviews, to collaborate in what we call today ‘think tanks’ with trade-unionists… and, yes, to criticize the Spanish ‘national-christian’ dictatorship.

    Second, the ‘adherents of Socialism who supported Communism’ makes little sense for anybody with even a third-hand knowledge of French political history. At the time, the main forces on the Left were Communists who supported the USSR (and marxism of course), and Socialists who didn’t support the USSR (part of them marxists, part of them not marxists but anti-capitalists, and finally part of them ‘social-liberals’ to use an anachronistic shortcut). I know it’s hard to understand, but Mz Schmidt used to be an historian.

    If Camus ended up in a minority position, it was not only because of his (staunch) criticism of first, the Soviet regime(s), then marxism itself. That alone was of course hard in the field of ‘intellectuals’ (though less and less harder following Berlin, Poznan, Budapest etc.) but not so much in politics as the Socialists, who were mostly anti-Soviet, were also in the process of abandoning marxism. It’s the Algerian War that put the final nail: he couldn’t stand with those who endorsed terrorism against civilians, couldn’t stand either with those who wanted Algeria to remain French.

    Maria Schmidt: Neither was it forgivable that [Camus] took sides with the 1956 Hungarian revolution.

    One only has to read the list of renowned leftist intellectuals and artists who signed petitions, and the list of Socialist politicians participating in demonstrations (including several sitting ministers in the Paris demo), to understand that this is false. A principled man of high standards, who constantly questioned, refined and expressed his views on freedom and justice? Indeed. A victim of ‘the Left’, as the text so heavily suggests? Certainly not! But then, I guess even a little honesty would spoil the enchanted world Mz Schmidt’s and the party she belongs to would want Hungarians to live in.

  9. @Ron

    The reasons are dead simple. I am a bit surprised that they did not occur to you, but then again Fidesz is great at fooling everybody.

    The close-to-Fidesz off shore companies which owned the building could not sell the building because these days it is rather difficult to offload a half-empty, expensive office building, but surprize-surpize they could achieve a good deal with MNB.

    MNB purchased the building onto its balance sheet which means the purchase price is not a cost item which goes through the profit and loss statement (i.e. which could eventually cause a loss) but an asset purchase, ie.MNB just substituted money it always had for real estate in its balance sheet. It’s almost as if it cost nothing for MNB, because MNB can of course print any amounts of money. It’s a legal way to pay friends billions.

    MNB is not finished with such purchases, it has earmarked about 90bn forints (some 380m USD) to purchase real estate from fidesz-loyal sellers, who will of course pay back the usual 20-30% kickback to their MNB-contacts and to Fidesz-entities designated by such MNB-contacts.

    This is “legal” robbery, nothing more and nothing less.

    At one point in the future a new MNB management will have to sell those buildings (just because MNB is not really a real estate management company) probably for half the price and then the taxpayers will foot the bills.

    But until then it’s party time for MNB and the fidesznik real estate developers.

  10. Éva, ez az esszéd megint reveláció erejű: tulajdonképpen most kezdem megérteni ezt az egész konstrukciót. Kertésszel kapcsolatban két élmény: (1) Évekkel ezelőtt a washingtoni holokauszt múzeum egyik vezetője mondta nekem: „Attila, nem figyelted meg, hogy a Sorstalanságban vannak gazember magyarok, gazember lengyelek, mindenki megkapja a magáét. De még nagyítóval sem lehet felfedezni egy gazember németet.” Ezen elcsodálkoztam, s minthogy kedvelem ezt a nagyon is 20. századi könyvet, inkább nem jártam a dolog után. (2) Tegnapelőtt akadt a kezembe Pályi Márk elemzése Kertész írói magatartásáról. Nagyon mellbevágott, de amit leírt, Éva ezt megint csak a te mostani esszéd alapján tudom igazán értelmezni. A szöveg egyszerre tetszett (intellektuálisan) és nem tetszett (politikailag), de nem akartam belegondolni mindennek az öszefüggéseibe, épp Kertész védelmében. (Márkot jól ismerem, 17 éves kora óta, akkor került a Szadesz ifj. csoportja közelébe. Lám, felnőttek a gyerekek.) Ha valakit érdekel, itt van az írás elérhetősége:

    http://pilpul.net/konnyu/az-irastudok-uralasa

    Attila

  11. @Ron:

    of course I know that story about Orbán’s daughter and her smartphone – that’s why I posted the link …

    And these stories also bring back the common joke:

    Their phones must be smarter than these people …

    PS:

    I don’t own a smartphone (well, at least one of these new ones that have Wifi and GPS and …) – but shouldn’t it be easy to “find” the machine with all the built-in software and/or even erase all the data on it?

  12. vetőmag: I know these plans very well, but in the case of this property,

    PriceWaterhouseCoopers is the only tenant and have a long term contract with the owners. Btw the plans were known since 2004.

    The only thing besides the conspiracy theory, is that a loan was given by for example the MKB which had to be repaid, for whatever reason.

  13. To be fair, Schmidt is right about WWII: it wasn’t fought to eliminate the Jews of Europe. Although Holocaust victims represent some 10% of all deaths in the war, it was a Nazi side project carried out under the cover of the wider war.

    Where she is wrong, of course, is in saying this was of only “minor importance,” especially given the Holocaust’s significance as the attempted destruction on a large ethnic minority, and in the subsequent creation of the state of Israel and all the attendant woes it has brought on the Middle East, the United States and the world over the past six and a half decades.

  14. @ conclusion who posted on August 18, 2014 at 2:23 pm: I hope you are still around!!! conclusion was the commenter who felt that the USA should remove their spying stuff from Hungary before they withdraw any other support from the Orban government. LOL.

    Well, maybe we can ask the USA to help to remove Orban’s spying equipments on its own people! How about that?

    tappanch
    August 20, 2014 at 2:15 am
    The identified governmental users of the spy program “FinFisher” are

    Qatar, host of the leadership of the Hamas terrorist organization
    Bahrein
    Bosnia
    Vietnam
    Nigeria
    Mongolia and
    Hungary (Peter Balogh, SSNS – NBSZ hungary secret service, nbsz.gov.hu)

  15. “He whispered something to Ader’s ear. I would love to know what was it.(sic)”

    I know what he said:

    “Dear Sir, Do you think I could have a snippet of Kover’s mustache?
    For my grandchildren, don’t you know.”

  16. @Some1: I’m sure that Kertész’s acceptance ‘interview’ comments have already been prepared well in advance by the relevant experts, and will be disseminated faithfully by MTI for anyone who is interested. They are unlikely to offend or disturb anyone on this most peaceful and happy of Hungarian holidays.

    In the meantime, Orban really does need to get that tongue-flicking under control.

  17. From my viewing of the tape, Kertesz looks in good shape and his reactions were smooth and natural–not at all the look of someone suffering from dementia or parkinsons. It will be interesting to hear his comments on the event.

  18. A significant PR-success for Orban.
    Now he has got ‘moral-capital’ for another 2-3 strikes meant to bring Hungary closer to Singapore and Turkey.

  19. @Ron

    There are other long term tenants like the British Chamber of Commerce and some law firms, but the building is in significant part empty. It is likely that with such a low tenancy rate the builders are unable start to redeem the principal according to schedule and/or pay the interests, so foreclosure loomed.

    It is a normal practice to get the construction (receive the loans) started when you have say 50% rate on paper via pre-contracts, hoping that by the time the building is constructed, the rate will increase to at least 80%, which is often needed to avoid bankruptcy. They hoped PWC will be a huge anchor tenant and others will flock there, when in fact with some exaggeration half of the office space in Budapest stands empty, there are entire never-used office buildings all over Budapest.

    It is also possible that the builders (these unknown offshore companies close to Fidesz) did not even contribute the usual 20-30-40% equity from their own capital, but got loans even for that part too, so essentially they built the entire building out of loans, making the project an extremely risky one.

    Before foreclosure they likely got out, but with extremely fat profits. This deal (actually a similar one happened when the MNB bought a castle in the provinces with a similar financial background) will serve as a great template for the lucky fidesznik investors.

  20. Nádas: To be fair, Schmidt is right about WWII: it wasn’t fought to eliminate the Jews of Europe. Although Holocaust victims represent some 10% of all deaths in the war, it was a Nazi side project carried out under the cover of the wider war.

    Yes and no. Yes from a military point of view, by all accounts. But from a political point of view, it is highly questionable in the case of Germany. Not only because of Hitler’s speeches directly linking the two (the most famous in that matter being perhaps that of Jan. 1, 1939), but because the nazi project, including the Lebensraum concept, is hardly separable from ‘ethnic cleansing’ according to their racial hierarchy. It started domestically before the war, and was neither ‘marginal’ nor a ‘side project’, but rather a means deemed necessary to an end.

    It can also be debated in the case of the Soviet Union, particularly concerning the mass murders and deportations in Estonia, Lithuania and Poland between 1939 and 1941. Though in that case ‘classicide’ would be a more appropriate term than ‘genocide’, the political (mad) logic at work appears quite similar, repeating measures already undertaken domestically. Here also, violently excluding entire ‘undesirable’ portions of the population from society was at the core of a totalitarian system.

  21. @gdfxx: in the HVG photos, the only woman shown ‘congratulating’ Kertesz is Orban Viktor’s wife. (Although Maria Schmidt is shown sitting in the background.)

    Interesting to see the LMP leader also among the Fidesz crowd offering his respects to Kertesz.

  22. Here’s my view on Kertész: I think he and his wife are pleased to receive this kind of recognition and acknowledgement from their native country, no matter what the reasons are.

    Let me tell you a story. I knew his current wife Magda back in the mid-90s as a business contact. We would get together every now and then and have coffee and whatever. She is a lovely, intelligent, spunky woman and I loved talking with her.

    One day when we were chatting she said to me, “Guess what Buddy, I just got married!”

    Me: “Oh, that’s fantastic, congratulations!”

    Magda: “Oh, he is such a romantic person. I’ve never been so happy in my whole life. I’m so in love. He’s an artist, you know. A writer.”

    Me: “Really? Well, what’s his name?”

    Magda: “Oh, you wouldn’t know him. Nobody knows him here in Hungary. He spends most of his time in Germany. They appreciate him there. Can you imagine, he gives public readings of his works in Germany, and hundreds of people show up to listen. That would never happen here.”

    There was some definite bitterness in her voice when she said this, as if she couldn’t believe that he would be more appreciated in Germany than in his own country. She never mentioned that he was an Auschwitz survivor, nor that he wrote about the Holocaust, but it definitely bothered her that he wasn’t well known in Hungary. Of course, the Nobel Prize in 2002 changed all that.

    Anyway, true story. And that’s why I think that Imre and his wife looked so happy to receive the Order of St. Stephen, for the official recognition from their own government and the public, even if it serves somewhat unsavory political purposes.

  23. London Calling!

    buddy

    You’ve just changed the whole dynamic of this post!

    Very interesting.

    Regards

    Charlie

  24. buddy: Here’s my view on Kertész: I think he and his wife are pleased to receive this kind of recognition and acknowledgement from their native country, no matter what the reasons are.

    That’s my guess as well. And why not? Kertész has several times over the last two years stated during interviews that he thought his end was near. After such a long exile (in so many ways), the appeal of that last freedom to ‘go home’ must be irresistible.

  25. @vetőmag
    “This is “legal” robbery, nothing more and nothing less.” you said.
    What would you say of “legal” money-laundering?
    The method you’ve outlined working just fine for the purpose, if there’s a need, you see…

  26. Some Hungarians give awards to Kertész for what ever reason and fascists create memorials to those who rounded up the Jews. For those of you who understand Hungarian watch the Jobbik honoring those heroes the Hungarian gendarmes, or Csendőrség, in the village of Csókakő, central Hungary on Saturday .

  27. Istvan:”For those of you who understand Hungarian watch the Jobbik honoring those heroes the Hungarian gendarmes, or Csendőrség, in the village of Csókakő, central Hungary on Saturday . ”

    If it weren’t so sad, it would be funny, like an operetta.

    The number of participants is scary. So are the veiled and not so veiled references that justify the gendarmes’ participation in the holocaust of Hungary. And the comparison of the need of the “strong nation” of Hungary similarly to that of Russia is a direct reference to the prime minister’s newest ideas.

    I think that the acceptance of an award from the more or less open comrades of these people by Imre Kertesz is a tragedy.

  28. About Kertesz

    From the anecdote, I’m sure the honor pleases the wife tremendously: she seemed to have been so disappointed that he wasn’t appreciated in Hungary…though she seems to know nothing of what he wrote and how it jarred with common Hungarian perception.
    So what?
    He’s an old man who saw a way to please his wife. He didn’t ask to be a symbol for anything.
    That Fidesz and that cross-eyed hag will grind political mileage out of this, why should he care.
    Maybe more might read his works…opens some eyes…enlighten some dim minds…(Although,
    I wouldn’t bet on it.)

  29. It is a reminder that any political side – if it wants to survive and score points with the public – has to actively appreciate its heroes because otherwise these artists who are vain by nature will flock to the other side where they get more “love” and “appreciation”.

    The leftists are too critical and have no long-term strategies and these lacks will forever haunt them.

    I also think that the leftists shat into their pants when Kertész got the Nobel because at that time Ms. Schmidt and the whole right wing media were critical of and attacking Kertész, among others for his jewishness, ie. that hes was not really a Hungarian.

    At that point the official leftists politics did not dare to really support and cater for Kertész because it thought that appearing too friendly with a jew will not help it politically and will forever brand the leftists as nothing more than the usual jew-lovers. The leftists appeared stand-offish to show that they are not over-enthusiastic.

    But this kind of lukewarm reception, of rather the fact that the leftsist refused to idolize Kertész caused that Kertész – as he became older and came to rely more on his wife and other helpers – became amenable to Ms. Schmidt’s and others’ overtures. Fidesz and his people always, without fail find people’s weak spots and act on them to get what they want.

    It is also a reminder that idols must be idolized if not for other reasons than to prevent them from defecting to the other side. Culture, just like it was in the 1950’s or 1960’s is a theatre of war for the current ruling political elite and so they use any and all means to win in that arena too. As usual the leftists fell asleep and did not even suspect that this disaster was coming. This game is also a meta game, so it does not really matter if Fidesz will score with this acceptance abroad or not, but it sure does look like Fidesz defeated the opposition-leaning intellectuals yet again who will appear even less attractive and as losers, and we know that nobody likes to associate with losers.

    I am sure the fidesznik professionals “are working on” other high-profile jews as well who in the past appeared supportive of liberal causes to turn them (by the way, György Petri’s ouvre is also being actively reinterpreted by Ms. Schmidt, probably his son is being very helpful in that process, who from accepting untold millions from the Gyurcsány government moved towards Fidesz when it became more popular and has been an active Fidesz apologist in the last 6-7 years.).

  30. London Calling!

    I’m getting sick and tired of the so-called Left politics think left therefore bad and disorganised.

    Complete bollocks.

    People don’t think left thoughts – or right thoughts they just think.

    As in all aspects of the human condition there is a gradation of thoughts about a particular subject and each may have merit depending on its context.

    So please stop this nonsense.

    For a democracy everyone’s view point is as valid as everyone else’s.

    It’s not ‘left’ to propound a view that an equal society is a better society. It’s not ‘left’ that all minorities should be assimilated into society. It’s just fair.

    A society that is equal and meritocratic is fair. Neither left nor right, just fair.

    So all you idiots that keep saying the Left don’t get it – are talking about a constituency that doesn’t exist. YOU are the ones with the siege mentality – we are not a colony crap.

    Orban believes, so one would think, in the bible (I don’t) but the ‘black or white’ left or right proponents don’t seem to realise that it is a book of ‘liberalism’ and – in their terms – of left-wing views.

    So the Chief Thug is a lefty, liberal with illiberal right-wing views – and a Commy to boot.

    All this inconsistent labeling is not helping to solve Hungary’s problems.

    Desist.

    Regards

    Charlie

  31. Well said, Charlie. I was getting nonsensically sick of the mindless beating of the Left.
    It doesn’t exist. What does is the putrid political culture of the country. Each politician
    should have to do a polygraph test before being aloud to run for a political office.

  32. @Charlie
    Thanks, I just wanted to share my perspective.

    Otherwise, I don’t think we should necessarily conflate Kertész’s acceptance of an award from the Hungarian state with a tacit approval of the ruling government’s policies. Maybe I’m naive, but perhaps he just accepts it for what it is: a recognition of his literary achievements.

  33. I really don’t understand why anybody would read so much into Kertesz’s acceptance of the award. He has Alzheimer’s. The disease can change a person, even in the early stages.

  34. Congratulation to Mr Kertesz!

    Extract from Sorstalansag:

    “Az eletet – tette hozza – folytatnunk kell, s hat csakugyan, egyebet igen nem is tehetunk elvegre belattam, ha mar egyszer ugy hozta modunk, hogy megtehetjuk egyaltalban, termeszetesen.”

  35. Attila Ara-Kovacs
    August 20, 2014 at 6:27 am

    van a Sorstalanságban geci német is (amikor rácsap a kezére, mikor az fölizzad, munka közben, ahelyett, hogy adna neki egy perc szünetet; vagy amikor elfordul, mikor nézi, hogy eszik; meg az is – bár személytelenül -, amikor hagyják, hogy igyanak a mérgezett ivóvízből), ellenben gonosz lengyelre most nem emlékszem… Petyka, a cseh kommunista viszont, aki megmenti, voltaképp jó szereplő (volna, ha még volna értelme a jónak). amúgy örülök, üdv.:

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