Modern Hungarian Literature Department
History of department
The Twentieth-Century Department which was established with the aim of exploring the realm of modern Hungarian literature, thus complementing the institute’s mission. Its first director was Aladár Komlós, who was followed by Miklós Szabolcsi from 1958, György Bodnár from 1966, Miklós Béládi from 1981, György Tverdota from 1984 and Béla Pomogáts from 1991. Gergely Angyalosi has headed the department since June 1992.
At the beginning this department employed approximately twenty members, although now the numbers is less. In the first ten years the members of the department focused on the preparation and writing of the two twentieth-century volumes of the New Hungarian Literary History handbook. This work required the participation of every researchers of the department: The work concerning the twentieth century had increased difficulties because there has never been made a scholarly synthesis on the literature of the first half of the century. This great summarising work was soon followed by another: In 1970 the department faculty, after debates lasting for several years, began compiling a history of contemporary Hungarian literature. However, this work had even more difficulties than its predecessor. Led by Miklós Béládi and after his death by László Rónay and with the participation of numerous authors the first six volumes of this work titled The History of Hungarian Literature 1945–1975 were published between 1981–1990. The next great undertaking was the writing of the History of the Hungarian Criticism and Literary Science which saw the participation of almost every member of the department. These collective works were completed by several individual works as well. There have been monographs written on many of the great Hungarian writers, styles and trends of the twentieth century.
For the proposal of Miklós Szabolcsi and later with the direction of Farkas József and László Illés a separate group worked on the exploration and the analysis of the socialist and emigrant literature before 1945. For publishing the results of this research the department started a separate series titled Literature – Socialism. The socialist literature at the beginning had close relations with the unfolding of the Hungarian avant-garde which was researched and „rehabilitated” by the department and the studies of Miklós Béládi so they deserve much credit for that. György Bognár and Béla Pomogáts proposed the research of the Hungarian literature in the neighboring countries and together with László Rónay they published a review under the title Hungarian Literature in the West after 1945 (Budapest, 1986) which discussed the literary life of ethnic Hungarians living in the west.
Angyalosi, Gergely osztályvezető