So here's a story that springs out of Trianon, Transylvania, the nostalgia for the thirties and the move towards the far right.
The story tells how the Hungarian government requested that the ashes of János Nyírő, a Hungarian writer born in Translyvania, should be reburied in the place of his birth, a village that has been part of Romania since 1920. The Romanians refused so, according to one Hungarian paper, a strong right wing supporter of the government, a government minister, the Transylvanian poet Géza Szőcs (a poet I once translated) arranged for the ashes to be smuggled into Romania and for a surreptitious commemoration service to be held, addressed in strong Hungarian patriotic terms, by László Kövér, Speaker of the House. This didn't make huge headlines here but it was certainly seen as an act of provocation by Romania. Why would that be? Because such assertions of Hungarian sovereignty on Romanian territory are perceived as acts of aggression.
Who was Nyírő? He was a Hungarian Transylvanian writer who was a member of the fascist Arrow Cross, and represented them in parliament through their reign of terror in the last phase of the war, after which he was accused of war crimes and went into exile, where he died. There is no English language Wiki entry on him (though there is a Hungarian one) and I can't find his work on the web, certainly not in translation. Here however is a decent length article about him and the issue of the reburial. His writings have been available in Hungarian since 1990.
In some respects he resembles another Hungarian writer Albert Wass, who does have an English language Wiki page which has, it seems, been subject to some wrangling. He too has been accused of war crimes including murder.
Both Wass and Nyírő were recently introduced into the school curriculum by the government. The reasons given were that they were popular and representative authors of the time, and that their work was to be detached from their politics.
But their introduction into the syllabus is itself a political act, one of many successive acts of the government intended to replace people in cultural positions with its own supporters and to squeeze artists of a different political leaning into silence by directing public money away from them, towards its own preferred figures.
As Compendium, a review of Cultural Policies and Trends puts it:
You can, as they say, say that again. I have in the past referred to the January article in The Independent that talked of a Kulturkampf. More recently the Financial Times, that bastion of left-liberalism has been writing critical articles, and reviews like this. And here is a Wiki sandbox article relating the story of museums and amalgamations (readers of Krasznahorkai may note a reference to Krásna Hôrka castle at the end.)
Introducing writers like Nyírő and Wass onto the syllabus, along with another, more major right wing writer Dezső Szabó, will be presented as an act of political and literary redress, but, in the Hungarian context, it is more worrying than that. Such powerful symbolic acts signal a dramatic change of cultural and political climate.
Hungarian history is problematic, and I haven't even mentioned 1956 or 1989. It is the 1930's that matter most here. It is the thirties that are being conjured and spread before the country as a model of identity, not so much Back to the Future as Forward into the Past, a past of conformity, xenophobia, authoritarianism, discrimination, hatred and fancy-dress patriotism with a distinct whiff of disaster.