This writing has been inspired by tweet exchanges with Gordon Darroch, who I do not know in person, but I hope I will.
It’s Pride month. During Pride month the government of my home country passed a law, which sets the right of LGBTQI+ people back by decades. It is difficult to be proud to be Hungarian right now. National pride has become an element, a tool of politics, which is very difficult to claim back.
I am ashamed. But to reclaim the pride I should righteously feel for my heritage, I have decided to create a list, a public list to remind myself, and you, reader, that Hungary, Hungarians are not the same as current Hungarian politics. Come along this cultural journey with me and let’s make the (re)discoveries together.
I have a Masters degree from Hungarian literature, so allow me to start with this.
My favorite, Dezső Kosztolányi (1885 – 1936) was a writer, poet and translator. It was in his writing I discovered what it is when poetry uses the language of everyday conversations, without any haughtiness or melodrama. Everything he writes is simple yet beautiful, deep without pretention.
Want to start reading? Start with Skylark.
“This short, perfect novel seems to encapsulate all the world’s pain in a soap bubble. Its surface is as smooth as a fable, its setting and characters are unremarkable, its tone is blithe, and its effect is shattering.”
—Deborah Eisenberg, The New York Review of Books
Mór Jókai was a novelist from the second half of the 19th century. Surprisingly modern for his age, his novels contain a lot of descriptions of the Hungary of his time, therefore they also serve well as documentaries.
Why not start with The Man with the Golden Touch.
Sadly for us, expats, there is not much Hungarian wine available abroad. The vineyards are relatively small, just like the country, therefore production is mostly consumed within the country. Hungary is, however, a paradise for wine lovers. Red, white or rose, you will find a plethora of wine varieties.
Wine lovers, read up here.
When you look up in the Concertgebouw, and read the names of composers, you will see two Hungarians there. Franz Liszt and Béla Bartók need no introduction to people that enjoy classical music.
Hungarian music education is world famous as well, people from all over the world are looking to get in to the Hungarian Academy of Music. Our music education, based on the so-called Kodály method is partly to blame for my music career.
Hungarian pop – much to my regret – is not very well known abroad. I have asked a few friends to list a few Hungarian pop songs that made them proud and added a few of my own, made a playlist so you can have a taste.
Did you know that Gloomy Sunday (a.k.a. the Hungarian suicide song) was indeed written by a Hungarian, Rezső Seress?
And finally – my friends that stayed
I am proud of each and every one of you.
So there we go. A list to start with. Let the reclaim begin.