Klaus Haberkamm (Münster) on a collection of essays by Lajos Hopp

május 13th, 2015 § 0 comments

review

La­jos Hopp, Un ép­is­to­li­er et tra­duc­teur lit­té­ra­ire à l’orée des Lu­miè­res: Ke­le­men Mi­kes. Re­cu­e­il d’essais, sous la di­rec­ti­on de Gá­bor Tüs­kés, pub­lié par Imre Vö­rös et Anna Tüs­kés, revu et pré­p­a­ré par Bé­at­ri­ce Du­mi­che et Krisz­ti­na Kaló, Sze­ged, JATE Press, 2014 (Fel­vi­lá­go­so­dás – Lu­miè­res – En­ligh­ten­ment – Aufklä­rung. Tome 3).

This coll­ec­ti­on of es­says ful­fils two ma­jor func­tions. On the one hand, it is a kind of com­me­mo­ra­tive of­fe­ring to La­jos Hopp (1927–1996), ac­cord­ing to Olga Pen­ke and Géza Szász, edi­tors of the se­ri­es „Fel­vi­lá­go­so­dás – Lu­miè­res – En­ligh­ten­ment – Aufklä­rung”, the „fi­gu­re emb­lé­ma­ti­que des recher­ches dix-huitiémistes en Hong­rie et spé­ci­a­l­is­te in­con­to­u­rab­le de Ke­le­men Mi­kes” (p. 7). On the ot­her hand, the book rep­re­sents an al­most ex­haus­tive study of one of the most dist­in­gu­is­hed aut­hors in Hun­ga­ri­an li­ter­ary his­to­ry, Ke­le­men Mi­kes (1690–1761), who, not only in Hopp’s opin­ion, is „en ef­fet ét­ro­i­te­ment lié à l’histoire cul­tu­rel­le na­ti­o­nale et en pha­se avec la vie in­tel­lec­tu­el­le en Hong­rie et Transyl­va­nie à la ve­ille des Lu­miè­res ain­si qu’avec les co­u­rants de pen­sée éc­la­irés qui na­is­sent en Euro­pe cent­rale.” (p. 104)

The re-edition comp­ri­ses twel­ve es­says which, for the most part, ap­peared in the six­ti­es and se­ven­ti­es of the last cent­ury in va­ri­o­us jour­nals and con­fe­ren­ce tran­sac­tions pub­lis­hed in Hun­gary, Po­land, Bul­ga­ria, and Tur­key. Two of them are here pub­lis­hed for the first time. Ori­gi­n­ally writ­ten in Hun­ga­ri­an, the texts were trans­la­ted into French at the time of the­ir pub­li­ca­ti­on, but have had to be tho­ro­ughly up­dated for the pre­sent pub­li­ca­ti­on. The cre­dit for that ini­ti­a­tive and the hard work of gat­he­ring the som­ew­hat re­mo­te first prints goes to Gá­bor Tüs­kés, di­rec­tor of the Eigh­teenth Cent­ury De­part­ment of the Ins­ti­tu­te for Li­ter­ary Stu­di­es of the Hun­ga­ri­an Aca­demy of Sci­en­ces, who was in char­ge of the events in Hun­gary mark­ing the 250th an­ni­ver­sary of Mi­kes’ death in 2011, and par­ti­cu­larly the in­ter­na­ti­o­nal con­fe­ren­ce in Bu­da­pest, the tran­sac­tions of which were pub­lis­hed in 2012 (Trans­mis­si­on of Li­te­ra­tu­re and In­ter­cul­t­u­ral Dis­co­ur­se in Exi­le: The Work of Ke­le­men Mi­kes in the Con­text of Euro­pe­an En­ligh­ten­ment, ed. Gá­bor Tüs­kés in col­la­bo­ra­ti­on with Ber­nard Adams, Thi­er­ry Fo­uil­le­ul, Klaus Hab­er­kamm, Bern – Ber­lin – Bru­xel­les et al., Pe­ter Lang, 2012). Thus Hopp’s es­says, spre­ad over so many East Euro­pe­an count­ri­es du­ring the pe­ri­od of the „Iron Cur­ta­in”, have now be­co­me more ea­sily ava­i­lab­le also to re­aders in Wes­tern Euro­pe, whe­re the­re still is, it se­ems, a lot of know­ledge of Mi­kes’ work to catch up on.

Speak­ing of the „Iron Cur­ta­in”, it can­not be ta­ken for gran­ted that Hopp’s re­se­arch is still va­lid in post-socialist times. Howe­ver, with the ex­cept­ion of per­haps one es­say – which is iden­ti­fi­ed by Tüs­kés too – only few con­ces­sions to ideo­log­i­cal par­ti­a­li­ti­es can be fo­und in the book. At most, Hopp’s fa­vo­u­ri­te term „la­bour” in the con­text of Mi­kes’ phi­lo­sophi­cal pre­fe­ren­ces, to­get­her with the ac­cen­tu­a­ti­on of the ten­si­on bet­ween clas­ses in con­tem­por­ary so­ci­eti­es, can be cons­idered symp­to­ma­tic of the for­mer Mar­xist spi­rit. This is why the author’s ba­si­cally positivist-descriptive met­hod of de­a­ling with Mi­kes’ texts can be all the more ef­fec­tive and come up with con­vinc­ing in­sights. Also the pat­ri­o­tic as­pect of Mi­kes’ way of think­ing, which, as such, may no­wa­days be more im­por­tant to his na­tive count­ry than to ot­her Euro­pe­an sta­tes with the same po­li­ti­cal de­ve­lop­ment af­ter World War II, can cle­arly be­co­me evi­dent. „L’amour du pays, de la pat­rie et de la lan­gue na­ti­o­nale”, re­fer­r­ing to Mi­kes, of co­ur­se, is a cha­rac­te­r­is­tic sec­ti­on head­ing in one of Hopp’s stu­di­es. Transyl­va­nia, whe­re, in the county of Há­rom­szék, Mi­kes was born, is re­gar­ded – his­to­ri­cally cor­rectly, of co­ur­se – to be part of Hun­gary, but the (fo­rei­gn) re­ader som­etimes has the imp­r­es­si­on that this was still the case in Hopp’s pre­sent.

Tüs­kés int­ro­du­ces La­jos Hopp in more de­ta­il: Mem­ber of the Ins­ti­tu­te for Li­ter­ary Stu­di­es of the Hun­ga­ri­an Aca­demy of Sci­en­ces from 1956 un­til his death, the scho­lar spe­ci­a­li­zed, among ot­her things, in the li­ter­ary re­la­tions bet­ween Hun­gary and Po­land and in the ac­ti­vi­ti­es of prin­ce Fe­renc II Rá­kó­czi and his cham­ber­la­in Ke­le­men Mi­kes, who sha­red his po­li­ti­cal fate in li­fe­ti­me exi­le in Rodostó/Tekirdağ (Tur­key). „Dans la de­u­xiè­me mo­i­tié du XXe sièc­le, il [Hopp] éta­it sans dou­te le meil­leur con­na­is­seur de l’œuvre de Mi­kes. Ent­re 1966 et 1988, il pub­lia en six vo­lumes l’édition cri­ti­que des œuvres de Mi­kes. Il éc­ri­vit plu­sieurs mo­no­gra­p­hi­es et étu­des sur Mi­kes […]. La bib­lio­gra­p­hie cho­i­sie de Mi­kes et le fac-similé des Lett­res de Tur­quie, pub­li­és en 2011 font su­i­te à ses tra­va­ux pré­cur­se­urs.” (p. 9) Gi­ven Hopp’s ex­cel­lent ex­per­ti­se, one can ima­gi­ne that the re­ader is well in­for­med by this coll­ec­ti­on of his es­says abo­ut Mi­kes both as a per­son and as an aut­hor and trans­la­tor. Li­te­rally all fea­tu­res of the man and all cha­rac­te­r­is­tics of his li­ter­ary work are ex­ten­si­vely de­alt with, par­ti­cu­larly Let­ters from Tur­key (1717–1758), for which Mi­kes is fa­mous, sin­ce they rep­re­sent „la pre­miè­re fois, de façon at­tes­tée, que la lan­gue hong­roi­se est uti­li­sée à des fins ar­tis­ti­ques dans ce gen­re spé­ci­fi­que dans la pro­se éc­ri­te.” (p. 29) The cor­pus of 207 fic­tit­io­us let­ters, al­le­gedly writ­ten to a fe­male co­u­sin of his, is una­ni­mously es­te­emed as his main work and con­ta­ins a host of vi­vid ob­ser­va­tions, both per­so­nally and cul­t­u­rally in­ter­est­ing, so­ci­o­log­i­cally and phi­lo­sophi­cally va­lu­ab­le, and of prac­ti­cal and psy­cho­log­i­cal use. In Ro­dos­tó Mi­kes, ins­pi­red and tra­ined by his five-year stay in Paris–Versailles (1713–1717) to­get­her with his exi­led ma­s­ter, also trans­la­ted twel­ve books from French, amount­ing to no less than ro­ughly 6,000 Ms pa­ges. Espe­ci­ally in the Let­ters, and in his se­lec­ti­on of books to be trans­la­ted Mi­kes pro­ves, as Hopp ela­bo­ra­tes in a di­dac­ti­cally app­ro­pia­te man­ner, to be an ad­vo­ca­te of the Hungarian/Transylvanian youth of his ge­ne­ra­ti­on and of Hun­ga­ri­an cul­tu­re in ge­ne­ral. He de­ci­si­vely ple­ads the case of his count­ry as far as bet­ter edu­ca­ti­on and ne­ces­sary cul­t­u­ral and mo­ral promo­ti­on are con­cer­ned. Hopp also shows, ori­en­ta­ted by the struc­tu­ring of French li­ter­ary his­to­ry and cons­tantly with Mi­kes in mind, how the gen­re of the public-literary let­ter de­ve­lops from an­ti­qu­ity to clas­sic­ism in Euro­pe and par­ti­cu­larly Hun­gary. What could have been lo­o­ked at more clos­ely, tho­ugh, is the fact that Mikes’s Let­ters were ne­ver pub­lis­hed in his li­fe­ti­me, and so could ne­ver have an im­me­dia­te po­li­ti­cal im­pact. To give only a few more examp­les of Hopp’s in­te­rests: he in­vestiga­tes the fo­rei­gn, par­ti­cu­larly French, inf­lu­en­ces on Mi­kes’ letter-writing in or­der to be able dis­tinctly to de­ter­mi­ne the in­di­vi­du­al fa­cets of his work that point to the early En­ligh­ten­ment wit­hin a ba­ro­que con­text. The re­ader al­ways pro­fits from per­ti­nent bib­lio­gra­p­hi­es, which make furt­her stu­di­es pos­sib­le for him. In spe­ci­al es­says Hopp analy­ses the re­la­ti­on bet­ween Mikes’s let­ters and Montesquieu’s Lett­res pers­a­nes, and his adap­ta­ti­on of Mme de Gomez’s Jour­né­es amus­an­tes. Hopp also lo­oks at the cha­rac­te­r­is­tics of Mi­kes’ ra­ti­o­nal­ism, which aga­in has to do with his af­fi­nity to the pre-Enlightenment, and with the so­ci­o­log­i­cal con­se­qu­en­ces of his phi­lo­sophi­cal at­ti­tu­de for his „idé­o­lo­gie bour­geo­i­se” (p. 93). Mikes’s sig­ni­fi­cance as ’re­por­ter’ on Tur­kish ci­vi­li­sa­ti­on, his closeness to Jan­sen­ism, and his im­pact on Hun­ga­ri­an li­ter­ary his­to­ry are furt­her are­as of Hopp’s re­se­arch. Last but not lea­st, the hy­pot­he­sis of how the ma­nuscript of Mi­kes’ Let­ters could have re­a­ched Hun­gary is dis­cus­sed in de­ta­il.

Hopp li­kes to re­pe­at his som­etimes me­ti­cu­lo­us ar­gu­ments, in pla­ces even ver­ba­tim. Imre Vö­rös, in the „Re­mar­ques tex­to­lo­gi­ques”, does not cri­ti­ci­se tho­se re­dun­dan­ci­es, which sup­po­s­edly were due to ab­so­lu­tely dif­fe­rent re­adersh­ips in the be­g­in­ning, as „ré­pé­tit­ions inu­ti­les: el­les s’intègrent d’une façon or­ga­ni­que dans les dif­fé­ren­tes étu­des.” (p. 175) True, but the risk of this ’over-information’ ta­ken as a whole is that the re­ader of this com­men­d­ab­le vo­lu­me may feel temp­ted to ref­ra­in from read­ing Mi­kes’ writings him-/herself. Yet the book has de­fi­ni­tely the po­ten­ti­al to work pre­ci­sely the ot­her way round by ca­us­ing the re­ader, par­ti­cu­larly in information-lacking Wes­tern Euro­pe, „à mi­e­ux con­naît­re les re­la­tions lit­té­ra­i­res et cul­tu­rel­les franco-hongroises du XVI­Ie sièc­le”. Mo­re­o­ver, the re­ader will cert­ainly en­joy the chance to be­co­me fa­mi­li­ar with the re­se­arch on the Euro­pe­an aut­hor Mi­kes, which, also af­ter Hopp, crea­tes „la base pour intég­rer l’œuvre dans les grands co­u­rants lit­té­ra­i­res d’Europe” (p. 10).

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