Transvaluations. A Concept and its Meanders through 20th-Century Historiography
In the autumn of 2010, a history conference entitled "Történelmi átértékelés" (Historical Transvaluation) was organized in Székesfehérvár. Timed to coincide with the I25th anniversary of the birth of Bálint Hóman, the symposium aimed at paving the way for the rehabilitation of the historian and politician. The conference title was borrowed from a lecture written by Homan in 1930, in which keeping his ideological motives hidden in the background he identified two possible reasons for transvaluation: "There are two sorts of reasons that may justify the transvaluation of historical phenomena: either an expansion in the availability of historical sources, an emergence of new data and a new interpretation of the old ones, or the emergence of new points of view in research that arise from the application of new methods of inquiry either unknown to, or ignored by, the historians of the past." The concept of transvaluation provoked a lively discussion and played a key role in Hungarian historiography on several occasions until the change of the political regime in 1990. The article follows the practice of Hungarian historiography related to the conceptual construct of "transvaluation" throughout the 20th century.
Tagányi and Szekfű. Additions to the Historiographical Associations of a Master-Disciple Relationship
The paper intends to continue the exploration of the personal and historiographical relationship between Károly Tagányi (1858-1924) and his fellow historian Gyula Szekfű (1883- 1 9 5 5 ) , who was one generation younger. Efforts to do so had already been made but were discontinued in the 1970s. By picking up the thread, my objective is to deepen Károly Tagányi's still rather neglected historiographical reception. The paper follows the relationship of the two historians from Szekfű's arrival in Vienna (1907) until the publication of his first work receiving widespread attention, Serviensek és familiárisok (1912). In the first half of the paper, which primarily draws on information found in manuscript letters, I focus on that segment of the social network surrounding Gyula Szekfű in Buda and later in Vienna which is related to his move to Vienna. One the one hand, I do so because my goal is to determine, more accurately than before, the role Tagányi played in this; on the other hand because their personal and professional rapport, the masterdisciple relationship, which lays the foundation of their future relations, originates from this period. In the second half of the paper, I explore the effective influence of Károly Tagányi's historiography in Szekfű's first notable work that is the most closely related to Tagányi's historiography from among all his writings. In this respect, the study of both historiographical information and that gleaned from the correspondence of this period shows that, contrary to previous views, the criticism of Werbőczy Szekfű voices in his Serviensek does not originate with Tagányi but was Szekfű's own invention, for the substantiation of which, however, he did draw on the rhetoric of Tagányi's writings. Nevertheless, the social and government historical concept in Serviensek that was, to some extent, effectively inspired by Tagányi did influence the later writings of Tagányi as well, though contemporary reception (mainly Bálint Hóman and Henrik Marczali) was strongly critical of the narrative truth of the work. And the professional relationship developing between them is also noticeable later up until Károly Tagányi's death (1924) in a plan for a common undertaking that was ultimately not realized.
The "Eckhart Debate": the Contemporary Reception of Ferenc Eckhart's Programmatic Treatise
Ferenc Eckhart's programmatic treatise on legal history became the most controversial and most widely debated piece in the volume edited by Bálint Hóman entitled A magyar történetírás új útjai. The views of Eckhart, who proposed the intellectual and social historical rewriting of legal history, were followed with great attention in the parliament, in editorials and by the community of historians as well. In my paper, I present the contemporary reactions and assess them from a historiographical viewpoint. The discourse is a good opportunity to explore the views on history of the persons participating in the debate, which also enables us to interpret/assess Ferenc Eckhart's legal historical program. The most important questions in the "Eckhart debate" were related to the application of the historical perspective, the nature of the European context, the definition of intellectual history and the relationship between social and legal history. Those lawyers, politicians and journalist who launched the fiercest attack on Eckhart's legal historical program (for example, Móric Tomcsányi, Kálmán Molnár, Miklós Nagy) considered an intellectual historical reinterpretation of the specifically Hungarian, and in their opinion timeless, genius of public law unacceptable. Looking at their arguments, it is mostly on the basis of their essentialist concept of history that they can be classified into the same group. As opposed to them, the legal historian who found himself in the focus of the debates was absolutely progressive with his intellectual and social historical experimentation, in which it was Elemér Mályusz who supported him the most. Published at the end of the paper in an appendix, their letters from the time of the debate also attest a close professional and personal relationship between Mályusz and Eckhart.
Taking Refuge in Silence... and Intellectual History. Sándor Domanovszky's Views of History and Historical Policy at the Turn of the 1930s and 1940s
The paper discusses Sándor Domanovszky's historical and historical political views. After briefly summarizing the literature on Domanovszky, the author focuses on two main problems in his treatment of the subject: on the one hand, Domanovszky's debate with Romanian historian Nicolae Iorga, and his clearance procedure in 1945, in which the so called Tibor Baráth case and the involvement related to the grand prize awarded by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences to Gyula Szekfu in 1943 played a decisive part. According to the author's conclusion, contrary to previous views, it was not positivism but rather a historicism centering on the national problematics as well as intellectual history that primarily influenced Domanovszky's work in the last period of his life.
"But History is One and Indivisible". Identity Crisis and Ritual Self-Definition: The Centennial Ceremony of the Historical Society (1967)
In my paper, I discuss the identity crisis of the Hungarian Historical Society to which it was looking for a solution with commemorative acts and by relating its own history. The Society "is the first professional organization of the historian's trade in Hungary." Its goal is to gather together in a single society all professional historians, history teachers and the wider community of amateurs interested in history. The Communist takeover after World War II both made sure that the study of history served their purposes and took control of the Society. One of the ritual demonstrations of the takeover and the new historical narrative created with Marxist-Leninist methodology took place at the Congress of Hungarian Historians (1953). On the 100th anniversary of its foundation, the Historical Society had to face marginalization: the management of professional research and the "trade" itself was taken over by the Institute of History at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, while educational activities were monopolized by the Society for the Dissemination of Scientific Knowledge (TIT). Thus the celebration of the centenary was a great opportunity for the members to refill the Society's identity with content and to make an attempt to regain its lost influence. On the basis of my reading which analyses the events and the texts of the centennial ceremony of 1967, we can claim that there were already several kinds of narrative norms in the historical narrative of the Historical Society and Hungarian historical science. At the same time, the reconciliation of these parallel identity histories was unsuccessful, and accordingly it could not play a part in the management of the Society's identity crisis.
Holocaust Literature in Hungary. Methodological Comments for a History of Hungarian Holocaust Literature
The paper discusses the methodological challenges of the historical study of Hungarian Holocaust literature. It mainly examines the specific methodological questions that arise when we want to historically analyze a text corpus the interpretation of which is greatly determined by a major discourse, which only emerged relatively late. As, from the 1970s, certain preconceptions as well as aesthetic and ethical norms were crystallized around the Holocaust, the entirety of which we may call Holocaust discourse. In Hungary, all this happened later, and it mostly got linked to the reception of Imre Kertész in the study of Hungarian literary developments, thus the harsh interpretation and description of the Holocaust that appears in his works influenced the reading of previous works as well. In my paper, through a case study, the examination of the reception of works published immediately after 1945, I argue in favor of the necessity of contextual analysis. At the time, these works belonged to an independent genre category within the field of literature called "experience literature". By describing the debates about the concept of experience literature as well as the ideological and aesthetic discussions I make an attempt to explore how the discourses surrounding the contemporary descriptions of sufferings in World War II worked.
Elmélet és módszer
Farewell to Sent-Petersburg: Count Nicolas Esterházy leaves the Russian capital
Count Nicolas Esterházy (1711-1764) was among the first Hungarian aristocrats, employed by the Vienna Court as career-diplomats. His most important mission was to the imperial Russia where he spent more time, than any of his predecessors - the long eight years (i753-t76i),. This period was the time of a tight cooperation of the two allied powers before and during the Seven Years War (1756-1763). The article suggests a brief overview of his activities in Russia and concentrates on the much desired and many times postponed recalling from the Russian capital. Inasmuch as his private archive has perished, the article suggests a biographical reconstruction based on his ambassadorial reports to the state chancellor Count Wenzel Anton Kaunitz and Empress Maria Theresa.