Hungarian literature is the body of written works primarily produced in Hungarian,and may also include works written in other languages (mostly Latin), either produced by Hungarians or having topics which are closely related to Hungarian culture. While it was less known in the English-speaking world for centuries, Hungary's literature gained renown in the 19th and 20th centuries, thanks to a new wave of internationally accessible writers like Mór Jókai, Antal Szerb, Sándor Márai, Imre Kertész and Magda Szabó.
The beginning of the history of Hungarian language as such (the proto-Hungarian period) is set at 1000 BC, when — according to current scientific understanding — the language had become differentiated from its closest relatives, the Ob-Ugric languages. No written evidence remains of the earliest Hungarian literature, but through folktales and folk songs, elements have survived that can be traced back to pagan times. Also extant, although only in Latin and dating from between the 11th and 14th centuries, are shortened versions of some Hungarian legends relating the origins of the Hungarian people and episodes from the conquest of Hungary and from campaigns of the 10th century.
In earliest times the Hungarian language was written in a runic-like script, although it was not used for literary purposes in the modern sense. The country switched to the Latin alphabet after being Christianized under the reign of Stephen I (1000–1038). There are no existing documents from the pre-11th century era. The Old Hungarian period is reckoned from 896 CE, when Hungarians conquered the Carpathian Basin, settled down and started to build their own state. Creation of the first extant written records followed soon after. The oldest written record in Hungarian is a fragment in the Establishing charter of the abbey of Tihany (1055) which contains several Hungarian terms, among them the words feheruuaru rea meneh hodu utu rea, ("up the military road to Fehérvár," referring to the place where the abbey was built). This text is probably to be read as Fehérü váru reá meneü hodu utu reá with today's spelling, and it would read as a Fehérvárra menő had[i] útra in today's Hungarian. The rest of the document was written in Latin.
The oldest complete, continuous text in Hungarian is Halotti beszéd és könyörgés, a short funeral oration written in about 1192–1195, moving in its simplicity.The oldest poem is Ómagyar Mária-siralom (the Lamentations of Mary), a free translation from Latin of a poem by Godefroy de Breteuil. It is also the oldest surviving Uralic poem. Both the funeral sermon and the Lamentations are hard to read and not quite comprehensible for modern-day Hungarians, mostly because the 26-letter Latin alphabet was not sufficient to represent all the sounds in Hungarian before diacritic marks and double letters were added.
During the Middle Ages and well into the Renaissance, the language of writing was mostly Latin. Important documents include the Admonitions of St. Stephen, which includes the king's admonitions to his son Prince Imre.
Among the first chronicles about Hungarian history were Gesta Hungarorum ("Deeds of the Hungarians"), by an unknown author, and Gesta Hunnorum et Hungarorum ("Deeds of the Huns and the Hungarians") by Simon Kézai. Both are in Latin. These chronicles mix history with legends, so historically they are not always authentic. Another chronicle is the Képes Krónika (Illustrated Chronicle), which was written for Louis the Great.
Further, Rogerius's 13th century work was published with János Thuróczy's chronicle in the late 15th century. In Split (now a part of Croatia) Thomas of Spalato wrote on local history, with much information on Hungary in the 13th century. At that time Dalmatia and the city of Split were part of the Kingdom of Hungary.
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (May 2008)
The 15th century saw the first translations from the Bible. Two Transylvanian preachers, Thomas and Valentine, followers of the Bohemian religious reformer Jan Hus, were responsible for this work, of which the prophetic books, the Psalms, and the Gospels have survived. A great part of the vocabulary created for the purpose is still in use.
Renaissance literature flourished under the reign of King Matthias (1458–1490). Janus Pannonius, although he wrote in Latin, counts as one of the most important persons in Hungarian literature, being the only significant Hungarian humanist poet of the period. The first printing house was also founded during Matthias's reign, by András Hess, in Buda. The first book printed in Hungary was the Chronica Hungarorum.
In 1526 most of Hungary fell under Ottoman occupation, from which date the beginning of the Middle Hungarian period is set, in connection with various cultural changes. The most important poets of the period were Bálint Balassi (1554–1594), Sebestyén Tinódi Lantos (c. 1510–1556) and Miklós Zrínyi (1620–1664). Balassi's poetry shows Mediaeval influences. His poems can be divided into three thematic categories: love poems, war poems and religious poems. Zrínyi's most significant work, Szigeti veszedelem ("Peril of Sziget", 1648/49) is an epic written in the style of the Iliad , and recounts the heroic Battle of Szigetvár, where his great-grandfather died while defending the castle of Szigetvár.
Translation of Roman authors produced also some works: János Baranyai Decsi translated Sallust's Catalina and Jughurta's war in the late 16th century. A decade later appeared the translation of Curtius Rufus's life of Alexander in Debrecen.
Historical works were even more numerous: the chronicle of Gáspár Heltai, published by him in Kolozsvár; Zay Ferenc's unpublished work on the siege of Belgrade from the 15th century; Kemény János's Transylvanian Dukes, and Miklós Bethlen's memoirs with János Szalárdy's voluminous then-unpublished work on Transylvanian history from Bethlen's reign to the 1660s; and Mihály Cserei's early 18th-century work are highlights of Hungarian-language literature. Another category is historical verses in Hungarian, like that of Sebestyén Tinódi Lantos from the 16th century, Péter Ilosvai Selymes, Mihály Szabatkai and Gergely Bornemissza.
Latin works in the period are more numerous. István Szamosközy, János Baranyai Decsi, Miklós Istvánffy, János Bethlen, and Farkas Bethlen, Ferenc Forgách, György Szerémi, Ambrus Somogyi, Gianmichele Bruto and Oláh Miklós are the most important authors of historical works from the 16th to 17th century. In German Georg Kraus and Georg Zeiler wrote on Transylvanian history. In Spanish one may read Bernardo de Aldana's apology for the 1552 loss of the castle of Lippa to the Turks.
Among religious literary works the most important is the Bible translation by Gáspár Károli, the Protestant pastor of Gönc, in 1590. The translation is called the Bible of Vizsoly, after the town where it was first published. Another important religious work is the Legend of Saint Margaret , copied by Lea Ráskai around 1510 from an earlier work that did not survive.
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (May 2008)
The Hungarian enlightenment arrived, via Vienna, about fifty years after the Western European enlightenment. The first Enlightenment writers were Maria Theresia's bodyguards (György Bessenyei, János Batsányi and so on). The greatest poets of the time were Mihály Csokonai Vitéz and Dániel Berzsenyi.
The most prominent figure of Hungarian language reform was Ferenc Kazinczy, who helped make the Hungarian language feasible for scientific explanations; furthermore, a lot of new words were coined for describing new inventions (for example, mozdony, which means 'locomotive.' Previously the loan word lokomotív had been used.)
Ferenc Kazinczy was a Hungarian author, poet, translator, neologist, the most indefatigable agent in the regeneration of the Hungarian language and literature at the turn of the 19th century. Today his name is connected with the extensive Language Reform of the 19th century, when thousands of words were coined or revived, enabling the Hungarian language to keep up with scientific progress and become an official language of the nation in 1844. For his linguistic and literary works he is regarded as one of the cultural founders of the Hungarian Reform Era along with Dávid Baróti Szabó, Ferenc Verseghy, György Bessenyei, Mátyás Rát and János Kis.
The culture of Hungary varies greatly across Hungary. It includes varying folk crafts, such as embroidery, decorated pottery and carvings. Hungarian music includes classical and baroque pieces along with folk music, modern pop and Roma music. Noted Hungarian authors include Sándor Márai, Imre Kertész, Péter Esterházy, Magda Szabó and János Kodolányi. Imre Kertész is particularly notworthy for having won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2002.
Sárospatak is a town in Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén county, northern Hungary. It lies 70 kilometres northeast from Miskolc, in the Bodrog river valley. The town, often called simply Patak, is an important cultural centre, a charming historical town and a popular tourist destination.
Kerepesi Cemetery is the most famous cemetery in Budapest. It is one of the oldest cemeteries in Hungary which has been almost completely preserved as an entity.
János Arany was a Hungarian poet, writer, translator and journalist. He is often said to be the "Shakespeare of ballads" – he wrote more than 102 ballads that have been translated into over 50 languages, as well as the Toldi trilogy.
Little is known about Hungarian music prior to the 11th century, when the first Kings of Hungary were Christianized and Gregorian chant was introduced. During this period a bishop from Venice wrote the first surviving remark about Hungarian folk song when he commented on the peculiar singing style of a maid. Church schools in Hungary taught Western Christian chanting, especially in places like Esztergom, Nyitra, Nagyvárad, Pannonhalma, Veszprém, Vác and Csanád; and later schools began focusing on singing, spreading Latin hymns across the country.
The origins of Hungarian opera can be traced to the late 18th century, with the rise of imported opera and other concert styles in cities like Pozsony, Kismarton, Nagyszeben and Budapest. Operas at the time were in either the German or Italian style. The field Hungarian opera began with school dramas and interpolations of German operas, which began at the end of the 18th century. School dramas in places like the Pauline School in Sátoraljaújhely, the Calvinist School in Csurgó and the Piarist School in Beszterce.
Budapest is the capital of Hungary. Below is a list of public place names of Budapest that refer to famous people, cities or historic events. Generality of Budapest's public place names relate to the Hungarian national history. In Budapest there are about 8,600 named public place.
The Hungary national handball team is administered by the Hungarian Handball Federation.
Beregsurány is a village in Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg county, in the Northern Great Plain region of eastern Hungary.
Hungarian is a Uralic language of the Ugric group. It has been spoken in the region of modern-day Hungary since the Hungarian conquest of the Carpathian Basin in the late 9th century.
The Palanok Castle or Mukachevo Castle is a historic castle in the city of Mukacheve in the western Ukrainian oblast (province) of Zakarpattia. The Palanok Castle is delicately preserved, and is located on a former 68 metre high volcanic hill. The castle complex consists of three parts: the high, middle, and low castle.
János Baranyai Decsi or János Csimor Baranyai Decsi is a Hungarian Renaissance writer who lived in the 16th century. He lived in the Transylvanian court of Báthory Zsigmond.
János Kemény was a Hungarian aristocrat, writer and prince of Transylvania.
Miklós VII Zrínyi or Nikola VII Zrinski was a Croatian and Hungarian military leader, statesman and poet. He was a member of the House of Zrinski, a Croatian-Hungarian noble family. He is the author of the first epic poem, The Peril of Sziget, in Hungarian literature.
George Gomori is a Hungarian-born poet, writer and academic. He has lived in England since 1956, after fleeing Budapest after the Hungarian Revolution, in which he played a pivotal role. He writes poems in Hungarian, many of which have been translated into English and Polish, and other writings across all three languages. He is a regular contributor to British newspaper The Guardian and to The Times Literary Supplement.
The Banate of Severin or Banate of Szörény was a Hungarian political, military and administrative unit with a special role in initially anti-Bulgarian, latterly anti-Ottoman defensive system of the medieval Kingdom of Hungary. It was founded by Prince Béla in 1228.