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RECOMMENDED READING

 

There is no shortage of books on Hungary and things Hungarian. Historical accounts include the worthy but rather dull The Corvina History of Hungary, edited by Péter Hanák, and the lightweight Hungary: A Brief History by István Lázár.If your passion is politics, try Charles Gati's Hungary and the Soviet Bloc, a dry but definitive treatise on Hungarian foreign policy from 1944-86, or Sándor Kopácsi's In the Name of the Working Class, a thoroughly readable account of the events leading to the 1956 uprising. For clear, insightful interpretations of what led to the collapse of Communism in 1989, try We the People or The Uses of Adversity by Timothy Garton Ash, published in the Granta series.Two classic travelogues on the country are Patrick Leigh Fermor's Between the Woods and the Water, which traces his 1933 walk through Hungary en route to Constantinople, and Brian Hall's tempered love affair with the still-Communist Budapest of the 1980s described in Stealing from a Deep Place.There's a dearth of Hungarian fiction available in English, but the works of 19th-century writers such as Imre Madách (The Tragedy of Man) and János Arany (Toldi Trilogy) should be easy to find. Modern writers recently translated include Mílan Fü, whose The Story of My Wife is a complex tale of obsession, and the playwrights Gábor Csakó, Géza Bereményi and György Spiro, whose work features in Three Contemporary Hungarian Plays. British-based writer Tibor Fischer's Under the Frog is an immensely readable black comedy about basketball and the 1956 revolution.A cultural gem is Hungarian Ethnography and Folklore by Iván Balassa & Gyula Ortutay, a massive opus that leaves no question on traditional mores unanswered. Currently out of print, it can still be found in Budapest and some provincial bookshops.





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