Dear Gyula,

For some time I have been meaning to write in order to commend you on the extraordinarily fine quality of the Hungarian Review. In issue after issue it brilliantly serves the purpose of presenting a compelling and thoughtful portrait of the complex life and culture of Hungary past and present to the outside world. But just as importantly, the various articles in each issue provide an immensely challenging and comprehensive perspective on the outside world itself from a distinctively Hungarian perspective.

In the most recent issue of May 2015, for instance, I read with great interest the remarkable interview with the distinguished scientist E. Sylvester Vizi concerning the ways in which Science and Public Affairs need to combine their efforts so as to present a positive national image of Hungary to the world. I was particularly impressed with the pains he took to explain that it is in the arts rather than politics that small nations like Hungary can best distinguish themselves while at the same time making a notable contribution to world culture.

What also impressed me about the interview with Dr. Vizi is the emphasis he placed upon reaching the 2.6 million strong Hungarian diaspora around the world who may no longer speak the language but nonetheless maintain a passion for the culture of the homeland. “We cannot give up on them,” he said. ”It was members of the Hungarian diaspora who taught me that the love of one’s homeland is independent from one’s location in the wider world.” Dr. Vizi went on to argue that it is the task of those in the homeland to reach out to those in the diaspora so as to make them understand that, “we think of each of them as being one of us, a part of our nation…, that we are proud of them and welcome their interest in the homeland.”

I read these wise and generous observations with a vivid sense of how much they differ from the common attitude of Irish intellectuals and government leaders towards their own diaspora of some 70 million people worldwide. As a member of the Global Irish Network of business and cultural leaders from throughout the Irish diaspora, I have become increasingly aware of the fact that the native Irish seem to value us almost exclusively in terms of our potential economic contribution to Ireland – and that mainly through tourism. As to other contributions that potentially might be made in education and the arts, these are viewed as little more than an intrusion on the carefully guarded territory of those who live and work in the homeland. In contrast with Hungary, Ireland has lost its native language; English is the common language both at home and abroad. One would think this would make it easier to establish a global sense of community among the Irish. Unfortunately, the Irish both at home and abroad share a sense of inferiority and distrust engendered in them from their long history as a colonized people. I do not sense that the same is true of the Hungarian people.

I admire very much the courage, energy and inclusiveness of your editorial vision. I have found it fascinating to learn about the various internal tensions and conflicts that have marred the history of modern Hungary. I have also developed a great admiration for the profoundly democratic spirit and sheer intellectual honesty with which you have examined a host of sensitive issues. While we were privileged to have you with us at Emory, I was always impressed with the civility of your manner, the poetic expressiveness and insight of your discourse and the vast understanding of the combined Hungarian/European heritage that you displayed in everything you touched. Congratulations on what you have achieved with the Hungarian Review. I am proud and happy for you and hope that others also appreciate your immensely rewarding achievement.

Sincerely,

Jim Flannery

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