GERMAN INFLUENCES ON HUNGARIAN LITERATURE
his exhibition is a selection of books, rarities of five hundred years, introducing the activity of publishers and printers from Germany and reflect on their stimulating effect on the Hungarian culture of book publishing, which is still present today.
The exhibition shows a couple of important periods of this German-Hungarian cultural connection and co-operation and displays its results to the visitors in full detail.
The first printed book of Hungary, the Chronica Hungarorum was produced in 1473 in the press of the German-in-origin András Hess, in the city of Buda. The Bavarian János Sebestyén Landerer laid down the foundations of the next press in 1724.
After the death of Hess in 1473, the ancient press of Buda ceased to exist. The internal demand was satisfied with books printed abroad for the order of the book vendors and publishers of Buda. Amongst these, one of the most famous publications - richly illustrated with woodcuts - is the Thuróczy Chronicle which was printed in the press of Rathold in Augsburg, for the order of Theobald Feger in 1488. Most of the works intended to Hungary got out of the press workshop of Heinrich Gran, a printer from Hagenau. A publisher from the same town, Johann Rynman had published the works of Pelbárt Temesvári and Osvát Laskai in several editions with special devotion. These two Hungarian Franciscan orators writing in Latin became known throughout Europe mainly due to the publishing activity of Rynman.
The immigrant German typographers of the 16th century as well as the presses founded by Saxon printers of Transylvania primarily served to spread Reformation.
The dissertations and thesis works of Hungarian scholars graduating from German universities of Wittemberg, Jena, Halle and Erlangen were preserved thanks to the local, German printers. Some of these are also presented in the exhibition.
Works of the great thinkers of the 'Reform Age' (Wesselényi, Kossuth, Széchenyi) which could not be published in Hungary are also on display. These, therefore, were printed mainly in Leipzig at Otto Wigand's workshop.
It was not just the historical circumstances that made the close link to German printing necessary but, sometimes, technical factors, too. Amongst its clear evidences we may mention publications such as Prónay's 'Skizzen aus dem Volksleben in Ungarn' (Pest 1854) or Pál Rosti's 'Travel Memoires From America' (Pest, 1861). The illustrations, the picture-boards, the reproductions of coloured lithographs for these works were made at press workshops in Germany and Vienna.
The Elisabeth Album (Pest, 1857) deserves special attention among these, for it depicts, by the copies of the frescos of the Castle of Wartburg, the life and the legend of Saint Elisabeth who is honoured as a both Hungarian and also German saint.
The exhibition is supplemented by reproductions of spectacular map pages from Pfeffel's atlas printed in Augsburg and fine coppercuts depicting Hungarian kings from the 'Mausoleum' published in Nuremberg in 1664.
The title formed from the names of the two printers of Buda is only a symbolic summary of the exhibition, since it covers a longer time period. The show is closed by the volume 'Handbuch deutscher historischer Buchbestande in Europa' which was published in 1998 and which presents the collection of Hungarian libraries.
One should mention that materials for the exhibition have been selected based on the collection of a single library, namely the Somogyi Library of Szeged.
Edited by Erzsébet Szőkefalvi-Nagy