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date: 26 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Traditionally, Hungarian literature newly born of Romanticism began to look to its national past and popular traditions for the foundations of its identity. The result was the birth of the national historical epic, championed by the likes of Mihály Vörösmarty and a new lyric poetry based on the language of folksong which was to reach its heights in the poetry of Sándor Petőfi and, later, János Arany. This chapter will correct two oversimplifications in this narrative. First, a notion of Romanticism that altogether bypasses questions of the imagination, the approach to nature, the irrational, and the post-Kantian dilemma of the experiencing subject, seems to run the risk of emptying the term of any fruitful comparative basis. Secondly, the cultural moment identified to mark the birth of Hungarian literature is considerably richer than the notion of a belated Enlightenment might suggest.

Keywords: Hungarian literary history, reception, nationalism, Schiller, sentimentalism, folk culture, post-Kantianism.

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