Thursday, March 5, 2015


Early Hungarian art stemmed from many of the traditions of Prince Árpád and the people of the Carpathian Basin. The most widely known style of art at the time Hungary was first established was the highly ornamental motif. They could be found in a number of places: around doorframes, decorative borders on scrolls, but mostly on clothing and decorations on their horses. It looked similar to Scandinavian or Celtic styles. 

Architecture in Medieval Hungary mimicked several of the main European styles of the day. Certainly after the Mongols came and destroyed many Hungarian cities, there was a great reconstruction period.  However, there are a few Romanesque and Gothic style buildings still standing from this era (mostly churches). 

The Renaissance brought along new styles in painting, sculpting, and architecture. Goldwork also began to become an important industry with the minting of coins and jewelry making. The Ottomans also had their influences on Hungarian art. Around this time, the use of what’s called a “cassette” became popular in architecture. (No, not like a cassette tape, as in the first cassette tape I saved up my money and bought myself was Bette Midler’s Some People’s Lives album. Look, it was 1990.) A cassette in architecture is like a highly decorated tile that goes on the ceiling. I think they’re awesome and would really like to do a room in my house with cassettes like this. 

Hungarian literature is primarily written in Hungarian, although early literature was written in Latin.  Before Latin was introduced by Stephen I around 1000AD, the people wrote in a runic script. It wasn’t used in any form of literature as we know it; it was mostly used in historical accounts. The earliest forms of Hungarian were in the form of a funeral rite and an epic poem. However, written Hungarian before the use of diacritical marks is difficult to read even for modern Hungarians. The first Hungarian translation of the Bible was created in the 15th century.  


The Renaissance and the Baroque brought along important changes and pieces of Hungarian literature.  During this time, the Hungarians fell under the rule of the Ottomans.  Poetry became very important and several poets grew to prominence. Most of the poems emerging from this time were love poems, religious poems, or war poems. Historical works were also still booming as well. 

Imre Kertész

The 19th and 20th centuries pushed Hungarian literature to the eyes of the world. These writers started to become noticed on a global scale. Some of the more well-known Hungarian writers to emerge during this time were Mór Jókai (dramatist, novelist, shares the same birthday with my husband), Antal Szerb (writer and scholar, one of the more important names of 20th century Hungarian writers), Sándor Márai (journalist, novelist, poet), Imre Kertész (novelist, survivor of a Holocaust concentration camp, winner of the 2002 Nobel Prize for Literature), and Magda Szabó (important Hungarian novelist, essayist, dramatist, poet).

Up next: music and dance

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