Accessible Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter 2018

Framing Futurism in Hungary (1909–1944)

From the book Volume 8 2018
Gábor Dobó


In this study, I set out to examine how the reception of Futurism in Hungary depended on the political situation, the structure of the literary field, and the then dominant modes of interpreting art in East-Central Europe. In Hungary, attitudes towards Futurism were conditioned by a number of local factors, yet they also resembled tendencies found in other countries at the time. In this country, according to the most widespread narrative, the phenomena of modernity - and Italian Futurism in particular - were considered an embodiment of decline. Exploiting the symbolic notion of ‘degeneration’, interpreters called an increasing number of Modernist initiatives ‘Futurism’. Attaching this negative label to Marinetti’s artistic initiative meant that Futurism morphed into a phenomenon deemed ‘alien’ to the Hungarian national character. From the mid-1920s onwards, the meaning shifted and Futurism also became a metaphor for Fascist Italy. Additionally, the cult of the ‘modernizing’ and ‘Futurist’ (i. e. Fascist) Italy was linked to a specific geopolitical context. Hungarian diplomacy thought of Italy as an ally in the government’s attempts to make revisionist territorial claims, while Italy was seeking for partners in the region to support her policy on the Balkans. This way, Futurism, which had been initially condemned by Hungarian cultural critics as ‘unintelligible’, ‘crazy’ or ‘alien’, came to be re-interpreted, and by the mid-1920s, turned into an embodiment of the “modern and at the same time conservative” Fascist Italy.

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