Richard Cronin: The ‘history-ful’ and the ‘history-less’: deep and shallow time in the Regency
I begin with Colin Kidd’s argument that for Scotland’s Enlightenment historians Scottish history could offer no explanation of their own modernity; that is, of their intellectual sophistication, their enjoyment of civil and political liberties, and their economic prosperity, social conditions that they could trace back no further than the Act of Union or perhaps to a still more recent point of origin in the defeat of the ’45 uprising. For Kidd, Scott’s novels mark a rupture with rather than a recovery of
Scotland’s past, enacting in their plots the central tenets of the historical sociology that Scott had imbibed as a student at . Kidd’s argument is persuasive, except in its failure to account for the most remarkable fact about Scott’s novels, that is, their extraordinary popularity, which, as Hazlitt points out, was even more remarkable in Edinburgh University England than it was in . My paper will attempt to explain this by drawing an analogy between the cultural circumstances of Scotland and of the new reading public that made of Scott’s novels so extraordinary a literary phenomenon Scotland
Balázs Csizmadia: The Reception of Joseph Conrad in
This paper examines the reception of Joseph Conrad in
from the 1920s to the present day. Besides commenting on the contemporary and early responses to Conrad’s works in the press, I take a closer look at the translations, scholarly reception as well as creative appropriations of Conrad by Hungarian writers and intellectuals. Related issues to be addressed include the political overtones of the reception after the Second World War as well as the possible reasons for the insufficient awareness of Conrad’s work outside academia – and his comparatively small impact even in Hungarian academic criticism – to date. Hungary
Zsolt Czigányik: Literature and censorship in
: from Orwell to Burgess Hungary
The paper examines a very special aspect of cultural memory, that is, how literary censorship in
influenced the reception of 20th century English fiction. A general survey of the institutional and non-institutional methods of censorship will be complemented by information drawn from the study of reviewer’s reports. An ongoing research in the archives of Európa Publishing House, the largest publisher of foreign fiction since the 1960’s, reveals how political issues mingled with literary considerations. The political implications of /Nineteen Eighty-Four /rendered it impossible to publish even one single essay by George Orwell before 1989, but politically less exposed authors could not escape such scrutiny either. As the works of the prolific Anthony Burgess induced a substantial number of reviewer’s reports, and his career coincided with the Kádár-regime, his case is an excellent example of the difficulties of publishing contemporary foreign literature in Hungary , even during the milder decades of the dictatorship. Other examples will also be used to show the reasons for publishing or concealing foreign fiction. Hungary
Péter Dávidházi: ‘Can these bones live?’: The Waste Land, Ezekiel and Hungarian Poetry
Commentators on T. S. Eliot’s celebrated poem The Waste Land (1922) have always been fascinated by its allusions. Hence generations of scholars and critics have joined the common pursuit to identify its sources, such as the haunting vision of the valley of bones in Ezekiel 37,1–14. Hungarian critics reviewing the translations of Eliot’s poem by Sándor Weöres (in 1958) and by István Vas (in 1966) have been preoccupied with evaluating them by such essentialist norms as “faithfulness” versus “inadequacy”, concerned only to conclude which “solution” of any given problem is preferable to the others. This paper takes a different approach, raising a different set of questions. What happens when two translators, themselves major poets of widely different backgrounds, meet the dry bones reminiscent of Ezekiel’s vision, on the transhistorical site of The Waste Land? How does this meeting relate to, confirm or challenge their respective attitudes to the Bible, their belief in the miraculous, their commitment to an inherited or chosen tradition, and, last but not least, their own poetry? What does a Hungarian translation of The Waste Land reveal in the context of 20th-century Hungarian poems alluding to the same prophet, including István Vas’s own poem Ezekiel? How far do the echoes of Ezekiel in Eliot’s The Waste Land and Ash-Wednesday allow us both to probe our shared cultural memory and to explore latent divergencies?
Alistair Davies: British Culture and the Memory of the First World War
This paper will explore the ways in which the First World War has been remembered in British culture since the 1960s and will suggest that cultural memories of the war – in the 1960s and subsequently – have served complex and changing cultural functions. The paper will consider competing and overlapping generational memories of the war while emphasising that, in British culture, including film, music, drama, poetry and fiction, the memorialisation of the war is unusually a preoccupation of and for the young.
John Drakakis: ‘Acts of Memory and Forgetting in Shakespeare’s Hamlet’
Hamlet is full of references to the acts of ‘remembrance’ and ‘forgetting’, indeed, this opposition underpins the entire structure of the play. This paper places ‘memory’ and ‘forgetting’ in a larger historic and cultural context that links this central theme of the play with the larger issue of the role of the theatre as an agent of cultural memory. The play traverses the full gamut of remembrance, forgetting, partial recollection, ‘fetishistic disavowal’, and examples of these different types of activity are offered as part of an attempt to add to existing readings of what the play’s ‘mighty opposites’ are. In an attempt to move away from the psychologising and romanticising of the dramatic characters, this paper aims to place the dramatis personae within the larger cultural and ideological struggle that develops as a consequence of the appearance of the symbol of the past, the ghost of Hamlet’s father. At stake, therefore, is the struggle between forces that seek to preserve and erase the past, that seek to act according to the dictates of a larger cultural memory, or that seek to erase it through the perversion, distortion, or elimination, of custom. The play itself performs this complex process, and the commitment to antagonistic forms of ‘writing’ – as aides memoire or as substitutes for memory – is exemplified in the history of the ‘narrative’ that Horatio recalls at the end, and possibly, in the passage from Q1 to Q2 of the play’s printed versions.
Boldizsár Fejérvári: Lingering in the Memory: The After Effects of Two Shelley Versions
This paper is the “sequel” to a recent presentation of mine, in which I compared the two versions of “Music, when soft voices die” on the basis of textual and interpretive considerations, paying tribute to Irving Massey and E. D. Hirsch, Jr.’s semi-century debate. After a brief overview of my previous findings, this time I shall focus on the divergent psychological ways in which memory works within the conceptual framework and the after effects of the (two) poem(s), respectively. Finally, I shall comment on the way in which Percy Bysshe Shelley’s manuscript version challenges Mary Shelley’s established edition, which seems indelibly to linger on in collective memory.
Judit Friedrich: Blaming, not healing: old stories of communist informers in the new century in
, and a literary example in Péter Esterházy’s Revised Edition Hungary
Why do we Hungarians tend to create scapegoats rather than address our problems?
The case of individuals who acted as informers under the Communist regime is revealing: the tendency to blame them rather than trying to understand the complexity of the issues and responsibilities involved seems to prevent any attempt to process the past.
The example to be discussed is Javított kiadás [Revised Edition] (2002), a work of celebrated postmodernist author Péter Esterházy whose novel Harmonia Caelestis, dedicated to the memory of his father and the history of his family, and by extension, of
, was published in 2000 to great critical acclaim. Esterházy subsequently found out about his father having acted as an informer under the Communist regime, and in Revised Edition he explored the implications. Hungary
I will argue that this work, with its painstaking yet beautiful description of the grief felt upon such discovery by an author with a historically resonant name, may show the subtle connections between literature, politics and cultural memory, possibly even offering a means of processing and change.
Gabriella Hartvig: Kölcsey and Sterne
The few explicit references that Ferenc Kölcsey made to Laurence Sterne are well known but there is perhaps an even more promising ground for finding a complex literary affinity if we take a closer look at the formal and thematic connections between some of Kölcsey’s pieces and the Shandean manner of writing. In “Előbeszéd” (“Preface”) and his critical piece “On the Comic,” for instance, one can find a comparable attempt at ironic elaboration and a common interest in the tradition which became to be labelled “humorous writing.” This paper traces the history of how the image of Sterne as a satirical writer was transformed into the aesthetic idea of the “launiger Schriftsteller” in European literature thus showing a new direction in the reception of Sterne in the early period of Romantic aesthetics.
Andrea Hübner: The Role of Medieval Maps in the Interpretation of the
Early modern maps are sometimes burdened with medieval heritage in intricate ways. Pictorial and written heritages intermingle, mutually reinterpret and complete each other producing strange and unexpected results in meaning. The paper wishes to examine the nature of the migration of images in the location and interpretation of the “other”.
Géza Kállay: Stain of Blood as Cultural Transmission: Lady Macbeth and János Arany’s Mistress Agnes
Lady Macbeth, “rubb[ing] her hands”, cries out: “Out damned spot! Out, I say” (Macb.5.1). The heroine of János Arany’s ballad-poem, Mistress Ágnes is rubbing her linen sheet in the streamlet and can see, and still see a stain of blood as she could, then, “on that night”, the night of crime. Neither the “little hand”, nor the sheet ever gets clean: both women have the stain of blood dried on their mind, their soul. János Arany (1817-1882), one of the most renowned Hungarian poets of the 19th century and legendary translator of Shakespeare, knew Macbeth well and it is more than likely that he made use of the Shakespearean motif to write his Mistress Agnes in 1853. The paper wishes to investigate images of crime, punishment, madness and especially of shame in the presentation of the two female figures.
Katalin G. Kállay: “Memory Believes Before Knowing Remembers”
In the first part of my paper, I intend to highlight the title sentence in the context of the work from which it was taken: William Faulkner’s Light in August. The second part will focus on the reverberations of Faulkner’s historical perspective in Hungarian concepts of the past, and finally I wish to apply the motto-like title to aspects of remembering and forgetting in the context of the Holocaust, through the analysis of two poems by the Israeli poet, Dan Pagis.
1956 in Cultural Memory
In cultural memory, 1956 is closely connected to the Hungarian Revolution, and there is reason to believe that 20th-century
is (and will be) predominantly remembered for 1956. The paper describes the nature of this memory as shown in literature. The literature incorporating the memory of ’56 is far from being uniform, whether created inside or outside Hungary ; it includes elements of suffering and heroism, misrepresentation and falsification, shame and guilt, silence and paralysis, among other things. The paper intends to explore some of these memory patters, placing them in their literary and historical context, while also examining a range of stylistic variations through which they are portrayed. Hungary
Andrea Kirchknopf: Post-Victorian narratives of the
: The Case of Peter Carey’s Oscar and Lucinda Crystal Palace
This reading of Oscar and Lucinda (1988) examines how the juxtaposition of objects of material culture with their narrative accounts produce various, often contradicting cultural memories of the same phenomenon. The novel’s central cultural object, a glass church to be transported to
Australia reverberates with the emblematic architectural constructions of the (1851) and the Millennium Dome (2000). Textual and visual responses to these mementos are surveyed in the contexts of the eighties’ narrative of heritage and enterprise, the nineties’ cultural policy culminating in the millennium celebrations and the current trend of liberalising political attitudes to remembering. Crystal Palace
Zsolt Komáromy: Memory and the “Pleasures of Imagination”
This paper uses Mark Akenside’s philosophical poem The Pleasures of Imagination (1744) to demonstrate a problem in eighteenth-century aesthetic theory concerning the relation of memory and imagination. In the eighteenth century, specifically “aesthetic” experiences were generally referred to the “pleasures of the imagination,” but the notion of the imagination itself remained closely bound up with that of memory. Indeed, if we consider the virtual inseparability of these two powers, it appears curious why the “pleasures of memory” were not theorized in aesthetics. I point to some details in Akenside’s poem that may help to explain this in terms of the privileging of productive as opposed to reproductive powers. However, I also argue that the blending of memory and imagination undermines this dichotomy, and calls for a more nuanced understanding of the role of memory in the aesthetics of the imagination. I expose two contradictory impulses in Akenside’s poem concerning the function of memory in artistic production, and offer to resolve this contradiction by suggesting a new perspective on the role of memory in eighteenth-century aesthetics.
Géza Maráczi: English Literature in a 'Western Hungarian' perspective: a case study in Dickens
In search of responses to British literature and culture alternative to those transmitted by literary criticism and cultural politics in
during the decades of Socialism, my paper focuses on the expatriate intellectual leader László Cs. Szabó’s life-long engagement with Charles Dickens’s work. Hungary
The consideration of Cs. Szabó’s evolving and composite image of Dickens as cultural icon, and of his works as ideological instruments, ranges from assessing the affinities of this picture with that of fellow members of the so-called essayist generation (gathered around the pre-war journal Nyugat), whose traditions Cs. Szabó unswervingly upheld; to examining his charges against the cultural politics of Communist and later Socialist regimes for putting authors working in realist modes, exemplified with Dickens, to ideological uses.
Réka Mihálka: The Nostos of the Past in Ezra Pound’s Nō Adaptations
This paper focuses on the relation of past and present in terms of memory. What starts the process of remembering? Is it only the present that wants to remember a past or is it also the past that wants to be remembered? Is the knowledge of the past ultimately transferable? If it is, is it through a revelatory vision or laborious effort that the past can be seen or understood? How does past and present change through remembering? Through the close reading of one of Ezra Pound’s Nō adaptations, “Tristan,” a play that enacts the struggle of past and present in a brief visionary scene, I will analyze the concept of the modernist nostos and the interaction of time planes in the process of remembering.
László Munteán: The Allied Bombing of
in World War II and its Representations in Hungarian Cultural Memory after 1989 Budapest
Unlike many war-torn cities in Western Europe where the destruction of World War II is only palpable in the absence of old buildings, Budapest still sports many bullet-ridden facades that bear witness to the siege that took place over 60 years ago. These scars persist as involuntary memorials that imbue the place with the specter of past violence while bespeak the lack of means or will to fix them.
Throughout the 1990s a resurgence of public interest in the siege of
can be identified. Though less devastating than the ones suffered by German cities the bombardment of Hungarian targets by the American and the British air forces before the siege also received significant public attention shortly after the change of 1989. While autobiographical works by British and American airmen were translated in large numbers, memoires by Hungarian and German pilots were equally abundant in bookstores. The collapse of the regime that had formerly repressed such a discourse undoubtedly plays a role in this phenomenon but it holds a lot more in store for future research. At stake here is the emergence of a discourse on the air war that provides for the emergence of repressed memory (both heroic and traumatic) and at once, paradoxically, fetishizes British and American aircraft and their crew pitted against their German and Hungarian piers whereby, I would argue, a virtual platform for reconnecting with the West was created. This platform consists in a palimpsest of signifying processes in which the construction of the British and American “other” is just as much palpable as those narrative schemes that construct Budapest ’s position in relation to this “other.” Hungary
In the spirit of W.G. Sebald’s seminal, though controversial, Luftkrieg und Literatur, which explores the silence of German writers on the destruction of German cities during Operation Gomorrah I propose that the sedimentation of this platform be approached as a memory archive in which narratives of the bombings of 1944 are to be read not only as accounts of the air raids per se but as traces illustrative and revealing of certain cultural, social, and political tendencies in the Hungary of the 1990s. My analysis of this tendency will also incorporate the discussion of the (little-known) memorial dedicated to the civilian casualties of the allied bombings near Közvágóhíd,
Júlia Paraizs: An Embarrassing Memory: The First Hungarian Translation of Shakespeare’s Sonnets
As Aleida Assman puts it books are doomed to perish instantly without cultural institutions of memorizing and continous appreciation. Shakespeare’s Sonnets live on in such interpretative activities as editing and translating, which are constant reminders that we do not have an unmediated access to the poems. My paper will focus on the printed medium of Shakespeare’s survival, on constructing its memory in the first Hungarian translation of the cycle (1878). I will argue that the first “memory” of Shakespeare as a sonnet writer in the nineteenth century was an uneasy one both in terms of the received sexual narrative and the marginal status of the sonnet form. I will show that the first full access to the Sonnets was necessitated by the conceptual demands of the “complete works” in the midst of cultural embarrassment. This self-imposed and yet unsettling memorization also produced a break with the biographical-novelistic interpretation of the poems that dominated the criticism of the nineteenth century.
Ágnes Péter: Mór Jókai’s
, a drama in four acts Milton
Sándor Bessenyei, a
based representative of the Hungarian Enlightenment, translated Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained from French prose into Hungarian prose in 1796. Interestingly enough Vienna was discovered and admired by the Hungarian writers of the Enlightenment simultaneously with Shakespeare, Pope and Edward Young. Young proved to be a short-lived source of inspiration, Pope was forgotten, Shakespeare, however, had his cult in Hungary in the 19th century, and Milton assumed a quasi-mythological status thanks to the three typical representations during the century: the thematically identical paintings of Soma Orlai Petrich (1862) and Mihály Munkácsy (1878) in which the blind Milton is surrounded by his three daughters and dictates Paradise Lost; and the drama of Mór Jókai (1876) which also shows Milton as an aged sage pathetically entangled in the web of his private emotional/erotic obsessions. Milton Milton was composed at the time when Jókai was internationally recognized as one of the leading novelists of Europe but academic criticism at home anticipated, and, indeed, commented on the slow decay of his powers. Recently Jókai’s last phase has been reconsidered and it is seen now as an experimental period with symptoms characteristic of the fin de siècle and modernism. Probably it is in the light of the new critical theses that Jókai’s portrait of Milton can be read as a radical revaluation of the Enlightenment Milton and as an important document of how artistic imagination is released, and controlled at the same time, by the anxieties of the artist (Jókai’s memory of the revolution of 1848 and its aftermath) and how cultural memory is retrieved if and when appropriate cues are present (the political debates of the period preceding and following the Compromise /Ausgleich / Kiegyezés with Vienna) that stimulate remembering.
Éva Péteri: Emblematic Women with Emblematic Harps
The Hungarian painter and writer, Lajos Gulácsy was confessedly deeply impressed with late nineteenth-century English art and aesthetic: Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Edward Burne-Jones, James Abbot McNeill Whistler and Oscar Wilde were held by him in high esteem. Spiritual in approach and synaesthetic in character the works of these English predecessors have proved inspirational as they embodied what Gulácsy himself believed to be genuine art. His Lady Playing on an Ancient Instrument is of particular interest concerning his English orientation, especially in its close correspondence to Rossetti’s
La Ghirlandata. Depicting alluring ladies plucking the strings of ancient harps both paintings evoke visions and sensations remote from ordinary experience, enchanting but ominous at the same time.
Natália Pikli: Classic and/or Popular? Shakespeare in Present-day Hungarian Reception
The paper attempts to chart the different strategies Hungarian institutions apply when targeting young audience, providing a brief introductory and comparative overview of theatre, education, translation market, and book publishing related to Shakespeare, mostly focussing on the recent decade. Since this field is enormously wide, special emphasis will be given to the following problems: Is Shakespeare ‘taught’ and/or ‘popularized’ by different institutions? How is canon formation influenced by popularizing attempts? What evidence may be found in recent translations/performances/editions of Shakespeare for a direct relation between canon and popular culture?
The – necessarily sketchy – overview will discuss some facets of grammar school education (textbooks, teachers’ experience, final exams, drama groups), theatre practice (artistic vs commercial attempts, (post)modernist performances vs box-office success musicals), popularizing and modernizing attempts in translation (Nádasdy, Varró) and strategies of publishing Shakespeare for students’ use. The main concern of the research is the way teenagers are socialized in present-day
for appreciating the Shakespearean oeuvre. Hungary
Eglantina Remport: Craig, Shakespeare and National Theatre
The paper considers the impact of Edward Gordon Craig’s revolutionary scenographic concepts on stage design at the National Theatres in
and inDublin during the 1910s. As point of reference, it examines the ways in which Craig’s concepts were borne out in the production of Shakespeare’s Hamlet at Constantin Stanislavski’s Moscow ArtTheatre in 1911-2. Sándor Hevesi, director of the National Theatre in Budapest Budapest, and William Butler Yeats, founder and co-director of the Irish National Theatre in , embraced Craig’s modernist scenic designs, and the paper draws comparison between the work of the three theatre practitioners. Such discussion inevitably raises questions about the social and political factors that played a part in the re-invention of the cult of Shakespeare in European cultural memory at the beginning of the twentieth century. Dublin
Veronika Ruttkay: The ‘Hungarian Burns’ in the Second Half of the 19th Century
The paper will focus on the reception of the poetry of Robert Burns in
in the second half of the 19th century, that is, after the defeat of the 1848–49 War of Independence, and during the early decades of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In literary terms, the beginning of this period is marked by the disappearance and probable death of Sándor Petőfi on the Transylvanian front, and I will try to show how Burns’s reception became entwined with the complicated memory this ‘national poet’, who was proverbially referred to as the ‘Hungarian Burns’. Burns, in turn, was sometimes conceptualised as ‘the Scottish Petőfi’ in Hungarian letters, and my paper will attempt to tease out some implications and consequences of this parallel for Hungarian criticism and translation. In the second half of my paper I will take a look at two works by János Arany, close friend and one-time poetical ally of Petőfi. The later of these works – a translation of Tam O’Shanter – marks an exceptional moment in the story of Burns’s poetical afterlife, while the earlier one – an adaptation of The Cotter’s Saturday Night – became a cornerstone of the literary cult which was being formed around Arany himself in this period. Both poems were influenced by effects of censorship and self-censorship, and, as I will suggest in closing, by Arany’s need to work through the legacy of Petőfi and the failed War of Independence. Hungary
Veronika Schandl: “The flash and outbreak of a fiery mind”: Collective memory and the theatre of the mind in Gábor Bódy’s 1981 Hamlet Production
The theatre of the mind is a commonly used term for the process of remembering (Noran), more specifically for collective remembrance. My aim in this paper is to show how the theatre of the mind works when it (re)constructs theatrical memory. My case study will be Gábor Bódy’s 1981 Hamlet production, which has, since its first night in 1981 become an ‘iconic’ milestone of both Hungarian theatre history and Shakespearean reception. I will try to delineate the several layers of cultural discourse (contemporary and historical) that have been vital in forming our understanding of this production and what it means to us.
Elinor Shaffer: Affinities and Antagonisms
The notion of reception through the affinities of geniuses for one another has always been an attractive one, whether these were individual poets in actual dialogue with one another, like Coleridge and Wordsworth, or a ‘Zeitgeist’ or ‘Spirit of the Age’ that led minds otherwise far from each other in the same direction (as Hazlitt suggested). In hermeneutic formulations, as by Schleiermacher, the dialogue of individual minds goes on in harmonious social circumstances.
Yet reception in fact often takes place through antagonisms, through war, conquest, and imposition, and ideas and styles are part of the baggage of hostile camps. Such forced reception may nevertheless bear fruit, through the clash of ideas, through ingenious resistance, and through the gradual alterations that coming into contact with a new milieu may bring about in both sides. The counter-reception may prove as strong as the imposed reception. Antagonism itself may fuel new interpretations of imposed ideas, movements and styles. Dialectics may be as effective as hermeneutics.
I shall propose some examples that we have discovered, sometimes unexpectedly, in the course of our now nineteen-volume project in the reception of British and Irish authors in
Ronald Soetaert: Cultural Memory as Rhetoric. A way of seeing is a way of not seeing
In his work the Hungarian writer Gyorgy Konrad explored the cultural memory of his country. He stimulates a more rational and tolerant political culture: “Intellectual cheerleaders are more dangerous today than ever before… I consider the demythologizing of politics to be the first duty of grown, thinking people... it is the only way we can save our lives.” In my paper I will examine what we can learn from a rhetorical perspective about the construction of the nation in education (focusing on Flanders/Belgium as a case-study). The rhetorical perspective is inspired by the work of Kenneth Burke and his dramatistic/narrative approach in particular. I will argue that Burke’s concepts are useful tools to thematize and problematize the ways people identify with symbols and stories. A rhetorical perspective in and on education can make teachers and students ‘symbol wise’. Indeed – as Konrad wrote – demythologizing is a major duty in education.
Andrea Timár: From Psychological “Is” to Ethical “Ought”: Memory Murdered in Agota Kristof's Le Grand Cahier
Agota Kristof was born in
Hungary, and immigrated to in 1956, at the age of 21. She wrote her first novel, Le Grand Cahier (The Notebook, 1986) 30 years later in French, which was followed by Switzerland La Preuve (The Proof, 1988) and Le Troisième Mensonsge (The Third Lie, 1991). These first three volumes make up her trilogy, translated, so far, in thirty five languages. My paper focuses on the first part of the trilogy, Le Grand Cahier. It is presented as a notebook written by twins in the first person plural, in a timeless, or else, all too temporal present tense. The two-three pages long chapters tell about the life of two young boys left to the care of their grandmother in a borderland village during the Second World War. The third part, however, raises the possibility that the existence of twins was an illusion (a lie?) that helped one party, or, in fact, the only one, to survive loneliness, humiliation, and the extremely harsh conditions of everyday life.
Yet, The Notebook is predicated upon the narrative imperative of absolute objectivity: both the narrative strategy, in which one party of (the first person) plural is there to legitimate the truthfulness of the story, and the diary form in the present tense are supposed to ensure “la description fidèle des faits”. This, at the same time, perfectly coincides with the practical ethical stance proposed in the narrative itself: the inseparable twins make “exercises” in self-torturing – which they describe in an almost telegraphic style – in order to arrive at a state of complete apathy. More precisely, what they recommend is the elimination, from both the psyche and language, of all subjective feelings and memories (“Les mots qui définissent les sentiments sont très vagues, il vaut miex éviter leur emploi”). Yet, apathy, including the murdering of memories, is neither a sheer means to survive, nor is it only psychological phenomenon that testifies to trauma. More importantly, it is an ethical stance: the twins gradually become the self-appointed, strong and sometimes cruel guardians of justice, and their narrative clearly suggests that it is precisely subjectivity (memories, feelings, interpretations, psychic predispositions) that leads to injustice and suffering. However, retrospectively, the assumptions on which the narrative strategy is predicated (narration in first person plural and in the present tense) and the allegedly faithful description of facts turn out to be possible “lies”, while the twins’ actual cruelty evidently challenges the ethics of apathy that was supposed to transcend the world surrounding them.
In my paper, I will discuss this impossible ethics that draws attention both to its own impossibility and to the lack of any other option. Doing so, I will draw parallels between the twin’s choices and Kristof’s own choice of a dispassionate French language. For this self-detachment from psychic and, therefore, linguistic roots equally discloses itself as both a “lie” and a “truth”, while equally testifying and doing justice to feelings that, perhaps, should be, and yet cannot be erased.
Benedek Péter Tóta: “the cud of memory”: British Literature and Cultural Memory in Seamus Heaney’s Poetry
Seamus Heaney’s “cud of memory” is an integral part of his “Funeral Rites” (North, London: Faber, 1975, 17). According to Jan Assmann (Das kulturelle Gedächtnis, München: Verlag C. H. Beck, 1992), commemorating the dead is the archetype of cultural memory. Commemorating the dead is “communicative” in so far as it appears as a general human form of behaviour, and it is “cultural” in so far as it creates its special institutional forms (A kulturális emlékezet, Budapest: Atlantisz, 1999, 61).
The primary institutional forms of cultural memory are rites. These celebrations secure conservation through poetic forms, retrieval through ritual representations, and communication through collective attendance and share. The regular occurrence of these celebrations, the repetitive nature of these rituals simultaneously grants the transmission of the knowledge of identity and the spatial-temporal relationship of the target group (Assmann 57). In this sense, cultural memory serves as the means of remembering that is beyond commonness (Assmann 59). Thus, cultural memory can root in Heaney’s “[r]uminant ground”.
The present paper investigates the operation of cultural memory as it reflects the adaptation of British Literature in Heaney’s poetry. The investigation focuses on “Stern” (District and Circle,
London: Faber, 2006, 46), “The Party” (“Ten Glosses –5” in Electric Light, : Faber, 2001, 55), “The Tollund Man” (Wintering Out, London: Faber, 1972, 47), and “Requiem for the Croppies” (Door into the Dark, London: Faber, 1969, 24). London
Within the context of literature written in English, the expected result is to see the vigorous revival of the past, the incessant recreation of culture, and the ruminative recovery of memory in the process of inculturation: the creative and dynamic relationship between a culture and another culture or other cultures.
Veronika Végh: Reinventing the Romantics in the Postmodern
Interference, invention, interpretation: this paper aims to study how Postmodern culture rewrites the nineteenth century for its own purposes, with a special emphasis on the presence of Romantic poets in Postmodern literature. From Tom Stoppard and A.S. Byatt to Weöres Sándor and Esterházy Péter, through steampunk and the zombie Jane Austen, a long list of authors and works proves the vivid presence of the nineteenth century in Postmodern narratives, offering the assumption that there is a remarkable hidden connection. My paper attempts to unveil the character of this dominant influence, and, after describing the cultural connotations of the phenomenon, it highlights and examines the personal presence of Keats, Shelley and especially Lord Byron, and his daughter, Ada Lovelace in Postmodern fiction, while it also studies how the same interference may exist in Hungarian literature.
Andrea Velich: Space and Time in the City of the Dead (Cemeteries in
London and ) Budapest
In my talk I shall try to discuss different cultural approaches to dying, death and the burial of the dead in the path of Philip Aries, Vanessa Harding and Péter Hanák in Space ( from London to Budapest) and Time (from the early modern period to the present) As part of a major research project on London social history with its focus on festivities and rituals mostly concerning death and funerals I attempt to take a short walk in some famous cemeteries and analyse the role they played and might still play in cultural history and memory. While giving a short comparative outline of the significance and condition of the famous Highgate Cemetery of London and some Jewish and Christian Cemeteries in the suburbs of Budapest as well as the well the Farkasrét Cemetery I try to focus on the different social and cultural attitudes to the dead, how these locations tell social, cultural and visual tales about our different cultural approach to our dead. And how we care for the dead reflects our attitude to life.
Máté Vince: ‘One single story falls to nineteen fifty six pieces’: Papp & Térey’sKazamaták and the Memories of the Revolution
Three mutually exclusive narratives of the Revolution of 1956 contend in present day public discourse. One, originally constructed as official state propaganda by the communist authorities, presents the revolution as the upheaval of a mob incited by anti-democratic fascist reactionary forces. Another narrative emphasises the role of the progressive communist leaders and the intellectuals, and through their idealisation depicts the revolution as a struggle for a reformed socialist democracy with equality as the main aim. The third idealises the people that fought in the streets, resulting in a somewhat romantic representation of freedom fighters who have risen up against communist oppression and the Soviet presence in
Kazamaták (‘Casemates’), a play written for the 50th anniversary, puts on the stage the probably most atypical event of the revolution, when a crowd of 500 besieged the headquarters of the party, leaving some 12 drafted soldiers and party members lynched and 25 killed in total. Through references to Shakespearean history play, contemporary political events and pre- and post-1989 catch-phrases, the play explores the long disproven but still surviving myth of the secret torture chambers (the ‘casemates’) below the symbolic space of the Party Headquarters on Köztársaság Square, and seeks to dismantle all three major historical narratives of the revolution in Hungarian cultural memory.