Kalliope Muse speaks to me

Emigrée from GR

Budapest: A Cultural and Literary History (Cities of the Imagination)

Budapest: A Cultural and Literary History (Cities of the Imagination) - Dent;Bob This is a fantastic first book to read if preparing a visit to Budapest. It is a mix between a guidebook and an introduction to the history and literary traditions of Hungary. From this book one can proceed on the one hand onto a proper guidebook for further practicalities of the places one has decided to visit. And on the other to more complete historical accounts and literary works.It has chapters on its Baths, its Food, its Music (classical and folk), its Cafés, but also on its Topography, Heroes, and overall Identity.Although Dent has to remain on somewhat a superficial level on his account of the History of the city, he has a good grasp of the myth-making ability of the Magyars regarding their past. His discussion on how the Jews were treated somewhat differently, at first, during Nazi times, I found particularly fascinating. The Jewish population had assimilated to a much greater degree than in other central European countries because the Magyar minority needed a weightier representation versus the other, more oppressed, minorities such as the Romanians, Croatians etc…. The migrant Jews, with their abilities to organize urban centers, and who became very nationalistic, were a very welcome community for the more agrarian Hungarians. After the frontiers were redrawn with the Trianon Treaty in 1920, their presence became more suspect and nastiness followed.I have also discovered more writers that I should explore, such as Magda Denes (I plan to read Castles Burning: A Child's Life in War), Tibor Déry etc. I also enjoyed hearing more on its classical music scene, with not only Béla Bartok but also Zoltán Kodály (Bela Bartok and Turn-Of-The-Century Budapest is another book for my TR list).Anyway, this was exciting reading, and I have now an exciting trip ahead of me.

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