VIKTOR ORBÁN (Alcsútdoboz, 1963), Prime Minister of Hungary in 1998–2002 and since May 2010; graduated in Law at Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, in 1987. In 1983, as a student he was a founding member of Bibó College, a circle for the study of democratic politics. A year later, with his fellow students, he created Századvég, a journal of social sciences, and became one of its editors. In 1989–1990, he studied the history of British liberal political philosophy in Pembroke College, Oxford. In 1988 he was one of the founders of Fidesz (Alliance of Young Democrats), one of the decisive parties of the Democratic opposition to the Communist system and one of the engines of the peaceful revolution of 1988–90. In summer 1989 he had a major role at the national Round Table Talks on Hungary’s peaceful transition to democracy, and he gave a famous speech at the reburial of the martyrs of 1956 on Heroes Square in Budapest, on 16 June 1989. In the mid-nineties, several liberal figureheads left Fidesz as the party became a national centre right force with Orbán at the helm, and has remained so to this day. Orbán, a committed democrat, is a charismatic orator and a powerful political strategist.
EMIL BRIX is an Austrian diplomat and historian. Between 1986–89 Head of Cabinet at the Ministry of Science and Research; 1990–95 Austrian Consul General in Kraków; 1995–99 Director of the Austrian Cultural Institute in London, afterwards Director-General of Foreign Cultural Policy at the Foreign Ministry; 2010–15 Austrian Ambassador to the UK; 2015–17 Austrian Ambassador to the Russian Federation; since 2017 he has been the Director of the Diplomatische Akademie Wien – Vienna School of International Studies.
KATALIN GELLÉR (Budapest, 1946) is a senior member of the Institute of Art History of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. She is the author of a number of monographs and articles focusing on the age of Romanticism, Symbolism and Art Nouveau in Hungary and in France. She has curated several exhibitions of turn-of- the-century and contemporary art.
GÉZA JESZENSZKY (Budapest, 1941), D. Phil., historian, graduated from Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest. From 1976 to 2011, he taught at what is today Corvinus University of Budapest. Was a Fulbright Visiting Professor at U.C. Santa Barbara in 1984–86. Taught the history of international relations and of Central Europe at numerous other universities in the US and Europe. He was Foreign Minister of Hungary in the first non-Communist government (1990–94), Ambassador to the United States of America in 1998–2002, and in 2011–2014 to Norway and Iceland. He is the author of numerous publications on history and foreign policy, his latest book in English is Post-Communist Europe and Its National/Ethnic Problems (Budapest, 2009). His account of Hungary’s relations to her neighbours (in Hungarian) came out in 2018. He is an editorial adviser for Hungarian Review.
GYULA KODOLÁNYI (Budapest, 1942), Editor-in-Chief of Hungarian Review, is the author of eleven collections of poetry, scholarly and literary essays and poetry translations. He taught English and American Literature at Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest in 1970–1989. He received research and teaching fellowships from the British Council, the American Council of Learned Societies, CIES and The German Marshall Fund of the US. He taught at the University of California in Santa Barbara (1984–85) and at Emory University in Atlanta (2004–2009), and read his poetry in English widely in the US. In 1987, he was a founding member of the Hungarian Democratic Forum (MDF). In 1990–94, he served as Senior Foreign Policy Advisor to the Prime Minister. In 2000–2005 he was an Advisor to President Ferenc Mádl. In 2012, he received Hungary’s Middle Cross with the Star and in 2005 the President’s Medal of Honour for his public and literary achievements. With Magyar Szemle, he received a Prima Prize in 2003. In 2015, he was Prima Primissima Prize winner in literature.
GORDON McKECHNIE (Detroit, 1951) was educated at the International School of Geneva and at the University of Oxford. After a career in banking (working in the then emerging markets of Central and Eastern Europe from 1989), he became a Partner of Deloitte and subsequently worked for the UK Treasury. Among his current positions, he is Chairman of the OECD’s Infrastructure and PPP Network and member of the International Committee of Tearfund.
JOHN O’SULLIVAN (Liverpool, 1942) is editor-at-large of National Review in New York where he served as Editor-in-Chief for ten years. He was a Special Adviser to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in Downing Street and later assisted her in the writing of her two volumes of memoirs. He has held a wide variety of senior editorial positions in the media on both sides of the Atlantic. He is the founder and co-chairman of the Atlantic Initiative, an international bipartisan organisation dedicated to reinvigorating and expanding the Atlantic community of democracies, launched at the Congress of Prague in May 1996 by President Vaclav Havel and Lady Thatcher. His book, The President, the Pope, and the Prime Minister (on Pope John Paul II, President Reagan and Prime Minister Thatcher), was published in Hungarian, too, in 2010. Until 2011, he was the Executive Editor of Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty in Prague. Currently he is the President of the Danube Institute, Budapest.
NICHOLAS T. PARSONS is a freelance author, translator and editor based in Vienna. A graduate of New College, Oxford he spent two years in Italy teaching at the British Institute of Florence and as Reader in English at the University of Pisa before returning to UK to work in publishing for ten years in the 1970s and early 1980s. In 1984 he settled in Central Europe with his Hungarian wife, the art historian Ilona Sármány, and has since published some 17 books on cultural topics, writing also as Louis James. These include the Blue Guide Austria and the Blue Guide Vienna as well as the first English guide to Hungary to be published following the “system change” of 1989. His essay-length Xenophobe’s Guide to the Austrians (Louis James) has been in print for 20 years. His recent books are Worth the Detour: A Cultural History of the Guidebook from Pausanias to the Rough Guide, and Vienna: A Cultural and Literary History (Signal Books / Oxford University Press). His latest work is A New Devil’s Dictionary: Lexicon for Contrarians, a reformulation for our times of Ambrose Bierce’s satirical take on disingenuous language.
CARDINAL GIANFRANCO RAVASI is an Italian prelate of the Catholic Church; the President of the Pontifical Council for Culture and of the Pontifical Commission of Sacred Archaeology. Born in 1942 at Merate (Lecco, Italy), he is an expert on the Bible and biblical languages. A cardinal since 2010, he has been President of the Pontifical Council for Culture since 3 September 2007. He headed Milan’s Ambrosian Library from 1989 to 2007, where he became a well- known figure in literary and academic circles while also giving popular lectures on religious subjects. He studied in Rome at the Pontifical Gregorian University and the Pontifical Biblical Institute. He spent summers in Syria, Jordan, Iraq and Turkey, working as an archaeologist. He later served as professor of exegesis of the Old Testament at the Theological Faculty of Northern Italy in Milan. He has some 150 volumes published mainly on biblical topics: editions on the Psalms and the Book of Job, the Song of Songs and Ecclesiasticus.
DAVID A. J. REYNOLDS is a freelance writer and editor from England, specializing in history and current affairs. He has lived and taught in Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Philadelphia, and presently resides in Illinois.
ILONA SÁRMÁNY is a Hungarian art historian based in Vienna. After earning her PhD from Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, she worked at the Institute of Art History at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences for ten years before leaving for Austria. She has taught at the University of Debrecen, the University of Vienna and University of Nottingham. In 2000 she was a fellow at the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles and from 1991 until 2015 she was Permanent Visiting Professor at the Central European University in Budapest. Her special field is the art and architecture of the Austro-Hungarian Empire during the reign of Emperor Franz Joseph. She has contributed studies on architecture, painting and the applied arts in Hungarian, German and English to numerous exhibition catalogues and study volumes. Her book on Gustav Klimt (1987) was published in English, German, French, Czech, Russian and Japanese, and Viennese Painting at the Turn of the Century (1991, 2nd ed. 2003) also appeared in Hungarian, English and German. Over the past few years she has published studies on the Hungarian painters Károly Ferenczy (2011) and István Csók (2013), and on Egon Schiele (2013). In 2015, she edited and wrote the introductory study for a volume on the art critic of the Vienna Secession (Ludwig Hevesi und seine Zeit, Wien).
PAUL SOHÁR made his way to the US as a teenage refugee from Hungary. After receiving a BA in philosophy he took a job in a research lab while writing in every genre, publishing seven volumes of translations, including Silver Pirouettes (Faludy translations, TheWriteDeal 2012) and In Contemporary Tense (Iniquity Press, 2013). His own poetry: Homing Poems (Iniquity, 2005) and The Wayward Orchard, a Wordrunner Prize winner (2011). Other awards: first prize in the 2012 Lincoln Poets Society Contest, second prize in RI Writers Circle 2014 Contest. Prose work: True Tales of a Fictitious Spy (Synergebooks, 2006). He lectures at MLA and RMMLA conferences and at Centenary College, NJ.
MIKLÓS SZÁNTHÓ is a lawyer and political analyst a graduate of Eötvös Lóránd University of Sciences, Budapest, and is the head director of the Center for Fundamental Rights (Alapjogokért Központ), a conservative legal research institute. Previously, Szánthó was a political analyst at a Budapest-based think tank and has contributed to several newspaper and political blogs. He also joined domestic and international research projects and scholarships in Budapest, Washington D.C. or Brussels. Szánthó’s core interest is constitutional law and political philosophy. Since Autumn 2018, Mr. Szánthó is also member of the board of trustees at the Central-European Press and Media Foundation.