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The Modernist as Primitive: The Cultural Role of Endre Ady in Fin-de-Siècle Hungary

  • Mary Gluck



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1 Éva, Forgács, “Van-e kelet-europai müvészet? Passúth Krisztina: Avantgarde kapcsolatok Prágától Bukarestig 1907–1930, Mansbach, Steven A.: Modern Art in Eastern Europe from the Baltic to the Balkans, ca. 1890–1939” (Is there an Eastern European art? [Review essay of] Krisztina Passúth, Avant-Garde Links from Prague to Bucharest, 1907–1930, [and] Mansbach, Steven A., Modern Art in Eastern Europe from the Baltic to the Balkans, ca. 1890–1939), Buksz (fall 1999): 240.

2 Ibid., 241.

3 Scott, Spector, Prague Territories: National Conflict and Cultural Innovation in Franz Kafka's Fin de Siècle (Berkeley, 2000); Judit, Frigyesi, Béla Bartók and Turn-of-the-Century Budapest (Berkeley, 1998).

4 Carl, Schorske, Fin-de-Siécle Vienna: Politics and Culture (New York, 1980).

5 Péter, Hanák, A Kert és a mühely (The Garden and the workshop) (Budapest, 1988), 137.

6 Ibid., 165.

7 For a critique of Schorske's modernist model, see Scott, Spector, “Beyond the Aesthetic Garden: Politics and Culture on the Margins of Fin-de-Siècle Vienna,” The Journal of the History of Ideas, Oct. 1998; and Mary, Gluck, “Beyond Vienna 1900: Rethinking Culture in Central Europe,” Austrian History Yearbook 28 (1997): 217–22.

8 I am deliberately using “modernism” in the broadest definition of the term, to refer to the project of radical aesthetic autonomy that first made its appearance in Hungary in the first decade of the twentieth century. This is essentially a cultural category, which makes no attempt to differentiate between different moments of artistic innovation at the turn of the nineteenth century, often referred to under the rubric of decadence, high modernism, and avant-gardism. In the context of the argument of this paper, I felt that it was unnecessary to categorize Ady's relationship to these phenomena, since, in a sense, he both incorporated and transcended them all. For a detailed discussion of the line of demarcation between Hungarian modernism and avant-gardism, see Mary, Gluck, “Toward a Historical Definition of Modernism: Georg Lukács and the Avant-Garde,” Journal of Modern History 58 (12 1986).

9 Miklós, Havas, “Ady és a napisajtó” (Ady and the daily press) Huszadik Század, Aug. 1919, 119.

10 Georg, Lukács, “Ady Endre” (1909) in Magyar irodalom—Magyar kultúra (Hungarian literature—Hungarian culture) (Budapest, 1970), 51.

11 Ibid., 49, 45.

12 János, Horváth, Ady s a legújabb magyar lyra (Ady and the latest Hungarian poetry) (Budapest, 1910), 2223, 40.

13 Béla, Balázs, “Ady Endre mitologiaja” (The mythology of Endre Ady) Huszadik Század, Aug. 1919, 105–6.

14 See Mary, Gluck, “Interpreting Primitivism, Mass Culture and Modernism: The Making of Wilhelm Worringer's Abstraction and Empathy,” The New German Critique, no. 80 (spring/summer 2000).

15 See Marianna, Torgovnick, Gone Primitive: Savage Intellects, Modern Lives (Chicago, 1990).

16 Charles, Baudelaire, “The Painter of Modern Life,” in The Painter of Modern Life and Other Essays, trans, and ed. Jonathan, Mayne (New York, 1964), 32.

17 Wilhelm, Worringer, Abstraction and Empathy: A Contribution to the Psychology of Style, trans. Michael, Bullock (Cleveland, 1967).

18 Endre, Ady, “A Magyar Pimodan,” Nyugat, Jan. 1 and Feb. 16,1908; reprinted in Ady Endre összes prózai müvei (The complete prose works of Endre Ady), ed. Gyulai, Földessy and István, Király (Budapest, 1955–74), 9:168.

19 Endre, Ady, “Ismeretlen Korvin-Kódex margójára” (In the margins of an unknown Korvin codex), Figyelő (Observer), Oct. 15,1905; reprinted in Ady Endre összes prózai művei, ed. Földessy and Király, 6:16.

20 In the case of Bartók, it is evident that his primitivism transcended the ethnographic boundaries of the Hungarian people. Even in Ady's case, his identification with historic Hungary coexisted with a deep empathy with the oppressed peoples of East Central Europe and, after the outbreak of World War I, with the fate of humankind in general.

21 Ady, “A Magyar Pimodan,” in Ady Endre összes prózai művei, ed. Földessy, and Király, , 9:168.

22 Ady learned about the Hotel Pimodan through Theophile Gautier's 1867 preface to Baudelaire's Les Fleurs du mal. The preface, it seems, made a deep impression on him, for as late as 1917, he wrote, “I have once again been reading Theophile Gautier's prologue to Baudelaire's poems, for the hundredth time, perhaps.” Ady Endre összes prózai müvei, ed. Földessy and Király, 9:456.

23 One of Ady's biographers rightfully identified Ady's preference for the Három Holló in opposition to a more conventional coffeehouse as a symbol of Ady's alienation from the progressive literary elite of the time: “This was Ady's revolt against the literary monopoly of Budapest; the conflict of the city and Ady's apparently rural roots… It seemed as if Ady's tavern was pitted against the coffeehouse of Budapest; his glass of wine against the afternoon espresso.” György, Bölöni, Az igazi Ady (The real Ady) (Budapest, 1932), 210.

24 Ady, “A Magyar Pimodan,” in Ady Endre összes prózai müvei, ed. Földessy, and Király, , 9:162.

25 Lajos, Hatvany, “Irodalompolitika” (Literary politics), Nyugat, 1911, vol. 2, p. 174.

26 See Pierre, Bourdieu, The Rules of Art: Genesis and Structure of the Literary Field, trans. Susan, Emanuel (Stanford, 1996).

27 Dénes, Görcsöni, “Nyugat,” Alkotmány, Feb. 20, 1908; reprinted in Ady Endre összes prózai művei, ed. Földessy, and Király, , 9:465.

28 Zsolt, Beöthy, Opening Speech of the Kisfaludy Társaság; reprinted in Ady Endre összes prózai művei, ed. Földessy, and Király, , 9:524.

29 Gyula, Vargha, in Ady Endre összes prózai művei, ed. Földessy, and Király, , 9:524.

30 Rusticus, (István Tisza), “Levél a szerkesztöhöz” (Letter to the editor), Magyar Figyelő, Sept. 1912, 406.

31 “Disputa” (Disputes), Nyugat, 1912, 381.

32 Endre Ady, “Geistige Elephantiasis” (Spiritual elephantiasis), Pester Lloyd, Apr. 11, 1909; reprinted in Ady Endre összes prózai művei, ed. Földessy, and Király, , 9:593.

33 Ady to Hatvany, end of April 1913, quoted in Lajos, Hatvany, Ady Endre: Cikkek, emlékezések, levelek (Endre Ady: Articles, remembrances, letters) 2 vols. (Budapest, 1959), 1:248.

34 Endre, Ady, “Hun, új legenda' (New Legend of Hunnia), in Ady Endre összes versei (The Complete poems of Endre Ady) (Budapest, 1971), 1:724.

35 Franco, Moretti, Modern Epic: The World-System from Goethe to Garcia Marquez, trans. Quintin, Hoare (London, 1996).

36 Hatvany, , Ady Endre,1:307–9.


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