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Fri, 30 Sep 2016 08:57:42 EDT by webmaster, 16361 views
Carleton University, Canada
Language and Literature paper by Adam, Christopher (all papers)
János Pilinszky's Apocrypha: A Wavering Catholic's Reflections on God, Human Suffering and the Relationship Between History and the Past
János Pilinszky's poem "Apokrif" (Apocrypha), initially published in 1954, was the first time that the poet's work was permitted to appear in print, following a state-imposed period of silence for what Hungary's Stalinist authorities labelled as his excessive "pessimism." In 1944, Pilinszky--at 23 years of age--was drafted into the Hungarian army, spending the final months of the Second World War in soon-to-be defeated Nazi Germany. This paper argues that Pilinszky and his poems, most notably "Apocrypha" and "The Passion of Ravensbrück," occupy a unique place in postwar Hungarian literature and discourse, due to the infusion of Christian spirituality when reflecting on the War and for deconstructing notions of memory, history and the past.
Pilinszky approaches the Second World War past, a tragedy still very much within living memory in postwar Hungary, from the perspective of Catholic and Christian faith--albeit, a faith that is deeply uncertain, ambivalent and even tormented.
The experience of war and destruction, and having witnessed first-hand the Ravensbrück concentration camp, not only informed Pilinszky's poetry, but also shaped an outlook that one may describe as a postwar, twentieth century version of Deism; the Creator is distant, silent and possibly even indifferent to what has become a perverse and depraved creation, while each individual human is isolated, forsaken and insignificant. Pilinszky not only provided a distinctive prism through which to explore recent Hungarian and European history, but pushed Hungarian thinkers to question the relationship between memory, history and the past.
Brief Professional Bio:
Christopher Adam has a B.A. (Honours) from Concordia University in History and English Literature, an M.A. from Carleton University in East/Central European and Russian Area Studies and a PhD in History from the University of Ottawa. Dr. Adam teaches as a sessional lecturer at Carleton University and also serves as the Executive Director of St. Joseph's Parish in Ottawa, which runs day programs and a soup kitchen for the marginalized.
Dr. Adam's research has focused on the relationship between Hungarian Canadian diaspora communities with the one party state apparatus in Hungary during the Cold War. He has also launched two Hungarian online publications--the Hungarian Free Press and the Kanadai Magyar Hírlap--and was the recipient of the Free Press Award (Szabad Sajtó-díj) in Hungary in 2015 for his work. Dr. Adam is currently working with the German Historical Institute in Washington DC on a forthcoming publication on postwar refugee crises.