A Review by Anna Tüskés

december 22nd, 2017 § 0 comments


Csa­pody Mik­lós, A Ma­gyar PEN Club tör­té­ne­te: 1926–2016 [The His­to­ry of the Hun­ga­ri­an PEN Club: 1926–2016], 1–2, Bu­da­pest, Ma­gyar PEN Club, 2016.

The pub­li­ca­ti­on of Csapody’s book co­in­ci­des with the 90th an­ni­ver­sary of the fo­un­da­ti­on of the Hun­ga­ri­an PEN Club in the spring of 1926. The aut­hor, Mik­lós Csa­pody, is a Hun­ga­ri­an li­ter­ary his­to­ri­an, jour­na­list, po­li­ti­ci­an and par­lia­men­tary rep­re­s­en­ta­tive (1990–2010). He wro­te ma­inly abo­ut the gra­phic ar­tist Gusz­táv Cseh, the eth­no­gra­p­her and art his­to­ri­an Sán­dor Bá­lint, and the writer and po­li­ti­ci­an Mik­lós Bánffy.

The first vo­lu­me of the re­vie­wed book con­ta­ins the sys­te­ma­tic pre­s­en­ta­ti­on of the his­to­ry of the Hun­ga­ri­an PEN Club, di­vi­ded into th­ree main pe­ri­ods: from the fo­un­da­ti­on un­til the se­cond world war (un­der the di­rec­ti­on of De­zső Kosz­to­lá­nyi), bet­ween 1945 and 1989 (un­der the di­rec­ti­on of Jenő Hel­tai, Ist­ván Ső­tér and Iván Bol­di­zsár), and sin­ce the chan­ge of re­gime in 1989 (un­der the di­rec­ti­on of Mik­lós Hu­bay). The aut­hor analy­zes the im­por­tant events and per­so­na­li­ti­es of the Hun­ga­ri­an PEN Club and in­terp­rets its his­to­ry on the ba­sis of news­pa­per ar­tic­les, and do­cu­ments in the ar­chi­ves of the Hun­ga­ri­an PEN Club and in the sta­te se­cu­rity ar­chi­ves. This main part is pre­ce­ded by an int­ro­duc­ti­on by the cur­rent pres­ident of the Hun­ga­ri­an PEN Club, the poet and po­li­ti­ci­an Géza Szőcs, and fol­lo­wed by a bib­lio­gra­phy, an in­dex of per­sons and pla­ces, and some one hund­red ar­chi­val pho­to­gra­phs. On the whole, it is an ob­jec­tive, analy­ti­cal study with ex­ci­ting expla­na­tions, alt­ho­ugh som­etimes with dry enumerations.

The se­cond vo­lu­me con­ta­ins 153 do­cu­ments and 27 papers (lists of mem­bers in every pe­ri­od, par­ti­ci­pants of events, ac­ti­vi­ti­es, pub­li­ca­tions etc.) il­lustrating the most im­por­tant events and tur­ning points of the Hun­ga­ri­an PEN Club’s fo­un­da­ti­on, the in­ter­na­ti­o­nal cong­ress in Bu­da­pest in 1932, the last ye­ars of the Se­cond World War, and the re­vo­lu­ti­on of 1956 and its af­ter­math. Such a coll­ec­ti­on ma­kes the vo­lu­me an in­ter­est­ing ch­res­to­ma­thy of the in­ter­na­ti­o­nal re­la­tions of Hun­ga­ri­an li­te­ra­tu­re. The­se newly pub­lis­hed do­cu­ments ori­gi­nat­ing from the ar­chi­ves of the Hun­ga­ri­an PEN Club th­row light upon cru­ci­al de­ta­ils of fri­endsh­ips, al­li­an­ces, conf­licts, mo­ral and li­ter­ary jud­ge­ments, and comp­ro­mi­ses. The­se ref­lect the re­la­ti­on of the par­ti­ci­pants to the po­li­ti­cal po­wer and the con­tem­por­ary na­ti­o­nal and in­ter­na­ti­o­nal re­la­ti­on net­work of the writers.

Even the two 500-page vo­lumes could not inc­lu­de all ma­te­ri­als and thus con­ta­in a se­lec­ti­on of the do­cu­ments. Ot­her coll­ec­tions whe­re highly re­le­vant un­pub­lis­hed sour­ces can be fo­und inc­lu­de the fonds of the mem­bers of the PEN Club in the Ma­nuscript De­part­ment of the Pe­tő­fi Li­ter­ary Mus­e­um, Bu­da­pest. The­se are fonds of the Hun­ga­ri­an mem­bers, fo­rei­gn mem­bers res­iding for a shor­ter or lon­ger time in Hun­gary, and Hun­ga­ri­an mem­bers li­ving ab­road. I wo­uld like to ment­ion some de­ta­ils abo­ut the ac­ti­vity of two per­sons, na­mely the French dip­lo­mat, poet and writer Franço­is Ga­chot, and the Hun­ga­ri­an poet and trans­la­tor Ág­nes Ne­mes Nagy, both mem­bers of the Hun­ga­ri­an PEN Club. Gachot’s and Ne­mes Nagy’s of­fi­ci­al and pri­vate let­ters shed light upon the­se two writers’ per­so­nal stori­es, espe­ci­ally in an in­ter­na­ti­o­nal con­text. The­se per­so­nal stori­es keep alive the ot­her­wi­se very im­por­tant but dry data.

The re­ader co­mes to know many facts abo­ut Ág­nes Ne­mes Nagy from Csapody’s book: for examp­le, she was the aut­hor and edi­tor of the li­ter­ary jour­nal Új­hold (New Moon), fo­un­ded in De­cem­ber 1946; she did not sign the sta­te­ment aga­inst the dis­cus­si­on of the “Hun­ga­ri­an Quest­ion” in the Uni­ted Na­tions in Sep­tem­ber 1957; she vi­si­ted the events or­ga­ni­zed by the Bri­tish Em­bassy in Bu­da­pest in the 1960s; the di­rec­tora­te of the Hun­ga­ri­an PEN pro­po­s­ed her as a mem­ber of the de­le­ga­te to the in­ter­na­ti­o­nal cong­ress in Frank­furt in 1959, but even­tu­ally she did not par­ti­ci­pa­te; she or­ga­ni­zed per­for­man­ces de­di­ca­ted to the po­ets György Ró­nay and Lász­ló Kál­no­ky in 1967; she par­ti­ci­pa­ted in the world cong­ress in Dub­lin or­ga­ni­zed for the 50th an­ni­ver­sary of the fo­un­da­ti­on of the In­ter­na­ti­o­nal PEN Club in 1971; she spoke abo­ut the im­por­tance of the adap­ta­ti­on of Hun­ga­ri­an po­etry at the ge­ne­ral mee­ting in 1972. In 1985 the sec­re­tary ge­ne­ral Ist­ván Bart re­com­men­ded to promo­te the oeuvre of five Hun­ga­ri­an po­ets ab­road, among them tho­se of Ne­mes Nagy, in the in­te­rest of a pos­sib­le li­ter­ary No­bel Prize.

All the­se pi­e­ces of in­for­ma­ti­on are comp­le­men­ted by the fonds of Ne­mes Nagy, which con­ta­in four French let­ters writ­ten by and to the Hun­ga­ri­an poet and Pier­re Em­ma­nu­el, the pres­ident of the French P.E.N. Club in March–April 1975. We get to know that Ne­mes Nagy was as­ked to de­li­ver a lec­tu­re abo­ut the “the cre­a­tive wo­man” for the Women’s Day or­ga­ni­zed by the French PEN, on 22 May, 1975 in Pa­ris. She ar­ri­ved in Pa­ris with the de­le­ga­ti­on of the Hun­ga­ri­an PEN, who ar­ri­ved for the mee­ting of the Exe­cu­tive Committee.

Franço­is Ga­chot li­ved in Bu­da­pest bet­ween 1924 and 1949. He taught French lan­gu­age, li­te­ra­tu­re and cul­tu­re first in the Eöt­vös Col­le­gi­um, la­ter in a se­con­dary scho­ol, and from the 1930s, at the Col­l­e­ge of Fine Art, Bu­da­pest. In 1926 he mar­ried the Hun­ga­ri­an Irén La­borcz. He lear­ned to speak Hun­ga­ri­an flu­ently, and he be­came enthu­sia­s­tic abo­ut Hun­ga­ri­an li­te­ra­tu­re and paint­ing. He adap­ted many Hun­ga­ri­an po­ems and no­vels in French, and he was com­mit­ted to promo­ting Hun­ga­ri­an li­te­ra­tu­re world­wi­de. In 1949 he was ex­pel­led from Hun­gary on the ba­sis of ac­cu­sa­tions made in con­nec­ti­on with con­cep­tu­al lawsuits.

From Csapody’s book we get to know that af­ter the Se­cond World War the provi­si­o­nal com­mit­tee of the Hun­ga­ri­an PEN el­ec­ted 87 writers to be mem­bers, among them Ga­chot, who gave lec­tu­res on the po­sit­i­on of French writers and li­te­ra­tu­re. He also or­ga­ni­zed a Hungarian-French so­ci­ety. In 1949 he was cons­idered a French spy, and his Hun­ga­ri­an fri­ends were all un­der sus­pi­ci­on and sur­ve­il­lance in the 1950s. Du­ring the di­rec­ti­on of Iván Bol­di­zsár, the adap­ta­ti­on prog­ram had chi­ef im­por­tance in the ac­ti­vi­ti­es of the Hun­ga­ri­an PEN. From the 1970s Bol­di­zsár could in­vi­te many fo­rei­gn trans­la­tors of Hun­ga­ri­an li­te­ra­tu­re to Bu­da­pest. Af­ter 20 ye­ars, Ga­chot fi­n­ally vi­si­ted Bu­da­pest and his Hun­ga­ri­an fri­ends in 1972. On this oc­cas­ion he was ho­no­u­red with the me­dal­li­on of the Hun­ga­ri­an PEN (pho­to­gra­ph on p. 788).

From the many let­ters of Ga­chot con­ser­ved in the Ma­nuscript De­part­ment of the Pe­tő­fi Li­ter­ary Mus­e­um, this image can be comp­le­men­ted with many de­ta­ils. The cor­res­pon­den­ce bet­ween Ga­chot and the pain­ter Ilo­na Tal­lós gi­ven to the Ma­nuscript De­part­ment of the Pe­tő­fi Li­ter­ary Mus­e­um in Spring 2017 is a tes­ti­mony of a long fri­ends­hip, with a 20-year in­ter­rupt­ion in the 1950s and 1960s. Af­ter his vi­sit in 1972, Ga­chot wro­te to Tal­lós: “You can ima­gi­ne my sur­pri­se when, du­ring the re­cept­ion gi­ven by the Union of Hun­ga­ri­an Writers to the in­vi­ta­ti­on of which we have been able to re­turn to Bu­da­pest as of­fi­ci­al guests, I saw a gre­at yo­ung man, your son ha­v­ing re­ce­i­ved the in­vi­ta­ti­on card which I had sent to you, still be­li­eving you in Hun­gary. He told me that you were re­mar­ried and li­ved in Linz. So I re­new con­tact with you af­ter se­ve­ral ye­ars of si­len­ce to hear from you and dep­ri­ved from the know­ledge if you con­ti­nue to paint, what I hope. I had the op­por­tunity to talk abo­ut you in Bu­da­pest with Cso­hány that we went to see, and we were hap­py, Ire­ne and me, to get to know and see the eng­ra­v­ings and dra­wings”. Ga­chot also wan­ted to meet his old fri­end, Béla Czó­bel, but from the let­ter of the pain­ter we knew that this didn’t hap­pen: “My dear Franço­is, Thank you for the in­vi­ta­ti­on. You will ex­cu­se me that I will not be pre­sent at this fri­endly mee­ting, I am the last 2 weeks ex­haus­ted, ti­red al­most una­b­le to move to my reg­ret. They will ce­le­b­ra­te you, as you de­ser­ve as a gre­at fri­end of Hun­ga­ri­an writers and pain­ters. Yo­urs af­fec­ti­on­ately, Béla”.

This in­vi­ta­ti­on by the Hun­ga­ri­an PEN Club was a tur­ning point in Gachot’s life. From 1972 he re­ne­wed his fri­ends­hip with his old fri­ends, Hun­ga­ri­an li­ter­ary jour­nals (for examp­le, Nagy­vi­lág and Iro­da­lom­tör­té­net) pub­lis­hed his writings, and he wro­te ar­tic­les on Hun­ga­ri­an li­te­ra­tu­re for French Jour­nals (for examp­le, No­u­vel­le Re­vue Française). In a let­ter of Oc­to­ber 1974, writ­ten by Ga­chot to the Hun­ga­ri­an poet and writer György Som­lyó, he asks for ad­vi­ce: “So I think this first paper could be abo­ut po­etry. Per­haps you could in­di­ca­te to me in this case, apart from the na­mes I know well, who, in your opin­ion, are the yo­ung people who sho­uld be ment­ion­ed and to whom I could add­ress myself so that the poem coll­ec­tions can be sent to me, that I wo­uld have to talk abo­ut?” From the let­ters writ­ten by Ga­chot to Som­lyó and his ot­her Hun­ga­ri­an fri­ends (for examp­le the pain­ter Ilo­na Tal­lós and the edi­tor End­re Ba­jo­mi Lá­zár), we get to know that he trans­la­ted into French th­ree no­vels by Gyu­la Krú­dy, which Gall­imard wan­ted to pub­lish at first, but which fi­n­ally Cor­vi­na only edi­ted af­ter his death in 1986 (with the tit­le of Pi­ro­u­et­te).

Ga­chot came to Bu­da­pest at the in­vi­ta­ti­on of the Hun­ga­ri­an PEN Club by Bol­di­zsár for the last time in May 1985, at the age of 84, right be­fo­re his death, to give a lec­tu­re abo­ut Gyu­la Krú­dy to the PEN Club. On that oc­cas­ion he wan­ted to re­a­li­se the re­e­di­ting of his tale Ka­kas Fer­kó di­a­da­la (Ka­kas Ferkó’s tri­um­ph), which had been first edi­ted by Cse­rép­fal­vi in 1943, with il­lustra­tions by the yo­ung ta­len­ted pain­ter, Ilo­na Tal­lós. This re­e­di­ting was ne­ver realised.

The­se two de­ta­ils show that the facts of a well-documented book on the his­to­ry of the Hun­ga­ri­an PEN Club by Csa­pody can be co­lo­u­red by some more hu­man stories.

A szerző az MTA BTK Irodalomtudományi Intézete
tudományos munkatársa (Bibliográfiai Osztály)


A Ma­gyar PEN Club meg­ala­pí­tá­sá­nak 90. év­for­du­ló­ján, 2016-ban, két kö­tet­ben meg­je­lent mo­nog­rá­fia és for­rás­gyűj­te­mény az in­téz­mény tör­té­ne­tét há­rom kor­szak­ra bont­va tár­gyal­ja: a meg­ala­pí­tás­tól a má­so­dik vi­lág­há­bo­rú vé­gé­ig, 1945 és 1989 kö­zött, va­la­mint 1989 után. A szer­ző elem­zi a fon­tos ese­mé­nye­ket, vé­gig­te­kin­ti a Club éle­té­ben be­töl­tött kulcs­sze­mé­lyi­sé­ge­ket és sze­re­pü­ket. A kö­te­tek for­rá­sa­it a ko­ra­be­li új­ság­cik­kek, a Ma­gyar PEN Klub ar­chí­vu­ma és az Ál­lam­biz­ton­sá­gi Szol­gá­la­tok Tör­té­ne­ti Le­vél­tá­ra ira­tai al­kot­ják. Azt ál­lít­hat­juk, hogy összes­sé­gé­ben egy ob­jek­tív, elem­ző mun­kát tart­ha­tunk a ke­zünk­ben, amely az iz­gal­mas ma­gya­rá­za­tok mel­lett oly­kor szá­raz név­fel­so­ro­lá­so­kat is tar­tal­maz. Az első kö­te­tet, ame­lyet bib­li­og­rá­fia, személy- és hely­név mu­ta­tó, va­la­mint több mint száz ar­chív fény­kép egé­szít ki, a köl­tő és po­li­ti­kus Szőcs Géza, a Ma­gyar PEN Club je­len­le­gi el­nö­ké­nek elő­sza­va ve­ze­ti be. A má­so­dik kö­tet 153 do­ku­men­tu­mot és 27 ira­tot tar­tal­maz (a ta­gok lis­tá­ja min­den idő­szak­ban, a ren­dez­vé­nyek részt­ve­vői, te­vé­keny­sé­gek, ki­ad­vá­nyok stb.), ame­lyek a leg­fon­to­sabb ese­mé­nye­ket és for­du­ló­pon­to­kat mu­tat­ják be. Ilye­nek az ala­pí­tás, az 1932-es bu­da­pes­ti nem­zet­kö­zi kong­resszus, a má­so­dik a vi­lág­há­bo­rú és az 1956-os for­ra­da­lom és utó­ha­tá­sai. Írá­som­ban igye­kez­tem né­hány apró ada­lék­kal szol­gál­ni a Ma­gyar PEN Club ún. „sze­mé­lyes” vagy „em­be­ri” tör­té­ne­te­i­hez úgy, hogy a Club két tag­já­nak a le­ve­le­zé­sé­re, an­nak iz­gal­mas rész­le­te­i­re hív­tam fel a fi­gyel­met. Ne­mes Nagy Ág­nes­nek és Franço­is Gachot-nak a Pe­tő­fi Iro­dal­mi Mú­ze­um­ban őr­zött le­ve­le­zé­se szép pél­dá­ja an­nak, hogy az ada­tok mö­gött rej­tő­ző ilyen és ha­son­ló sze­mé­lyes tör­té­ne­tek ár­nyal­ni tud­ják, sőt „élet­te­li­vé” te­het­nek egy olyan össze­fog­la­ló igé­nyű mű­vet, amely egy szer­ve­zet tör­té­ne­tét kí­ván­ja dokumentálni.


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