FIRST BIRTHDAY EDITION

With this edition of Hungarian Review we celebrate one year of our journal’s existence, and look forward with hope to many more. We believe we have proved the need for a calm, measured, and conservative – in the best sense of the word – voice from Central Europe, and we extend special thanks to all who have made that possible – through their hard-work, their contributions, and not least their financial support. We are proud of our readers, and doubly grateful to those who indicate their apprecation by subscribing to Hungarian Review. Only your support can guarantee our survival in these penny-pension times.

In the autumn, Hungarians remember fallen Revolutions. On 6 October 1849, Count Lajos Batthyány, the Prime Minister of revolutionary Hungary, was executed by victorious Austria. On this 55th anniversary of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, we feature a special section devoted to the struggle for freedom and its aftermath. There are extracts from Anna Sebõk Páskándi’s remarkable documentary about the cruel repression of those in Romania – largely, but not exclusively Hungarians – who drew inspiration from the Uprising. Soviet and Western archives and eye-witnesses demonstrate, Gábor Jobbágyi argues, that the Soviet leadership had prepared military plans for a showdown against the Hungarian political and spiritual unrest already in the summer of 1956. And István Zalatnay explores how the apparently abstract steel Monument in Budapest City Park embodies the attitudes of different generations of Hungarians to the Revolution of 1956.

In the current affairs section, Deputy Prime Minister Tibor Navracsics responds to the continuing barrage of international criticism towards his government, and presents his vision of the future of the country, and the degree to which that can – or should – be achieved with the agreement of the governing party’s domestic and international critics. The government’s policies, he argues, are centrist – whatever their rhetorical or ideological colouring. Criticise us as much as you like, Mr. Navracsics suggests, but do not cast doubt on our goodwill and expertise.

In the same section, our regular columnist Péter Ákos Bod, calmly explains the history and current dilemmas of Hungarian debt in foreign currencies, especially for readers who might find it hard to understand why people might be tempted to borrow in currencies other than their own in the first place.

Opening a series of writings on the wider region, Dr. Tibor Várady, a leading Hungarian writer and international lawyer from Serbia, appraises the country’s epochal Act of Rehabilitation that is just in the making.

Nick Thorpe’s interview with King Michael of Romania leads the Histories section. The King – who has always denounced as illegitimate his forced abdication in 1947 – talks in detail about his central role in switching Romania from the Axis to the Allied side in 1944; about the threats from Romania’s Communist government which forced him to sign the abdication document; and ponders the fatal disinterest and ignorance which western Europe has often shown for the eastern and central European region, and detects a certain improvement.

This Romanian story of 1944 is followed by the second instalment of Charles Fenyvesi’s essay, on how the 1942–44 secret attempts of the Hungarian government to desert the German side foundered on Prime Minister Kállay’s miscalculations, and the intransigence and impatience of the Western allies.

In the same section, we return to 1956 and its lessons. Gyula Kodolányi’s essay on the friendship of the Hungarian István Bibó and the Briton Sir Bernard Crick sheds light on the international affinities of Hungary’s great but neglected Twentieth century political thinker, who was also Minister of State in the 1956 revolutionary government of Imre Nagy. This is followed by Bernard Crick’s introduction to Bibó, and finally a taste of Bibó’s book on the paralysis of the international institutions in handling local conflicts, published in English for the first time, in 1976. The short passage reprinted here provides a critique of nationalism made more relevant, not less, by the elapse of the decades since Bibó wrote it.

Mátyás Sárközi, novelist and journalist from London, publishes excerpts of his ironic journal of 1956–57, on how a young Hungarian émigré makes his first steps in the British world.

In the Arts Section, prominent Liszt scholar Paul Merrick writes about the bicentennial Festival of Liszt’s church music in Esztergom, the seat of the Catholic Archbishop of Hungary. And Enikõ Bollobás reviews a British anthology of the best Hungarian drama from Transylvania – whose sombre and darkly grotesque moods were fuelled by the 1956 tragedy as reported by Anna Sebõk Páskándi a few pages before.

A particularly solid raft of reading then, to brighten these dark autumnal evenings for our readers.

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