Endre Ady: “Let us go back to Asia” (1902)

The young Endre Ady in Nagyvárad

The young Endre Ady in Nagyvárad/Oradea

A friend called my attention to an article written by Endre Ady, the great Hungarian poet, in 1902. For those of you not familiar with Ady’s work, I ought say a few words about him. He came from an impoverished Calvinist petty noble family. The house he was born in was no different from those of the Romanian and Hungarian peasants in Érmindszent, today called Adyfalva in Hungarian and Ady Endre in Romanian. After he studied law for a while in Debrecen he became a journalist, but he left the city soon after. The town later became the symbol of backwardness in his poetry. He moved to Nagyvárad (Oradea) which in those days was considered to be a small but lively cultural center. I might add that Nagyvárad in those days had a very large Jewish population. About 15,000 out of the total population of 60,000. It was here that he met the love of his life, Adél Brüll, whom he called Léda in his poems, a rich married woman originally from Nagyvárad who was living in Paris at the time.

He became a correspondent for Nagyváradí Napló, the local daily. If one takes a look at Ady’s Összes prózai művei one must admire his prodigious output. There were days when he was able to write two or three short essays. On Christmas Day of 1901 he wrote even more. Here is the essay I received this morning. Translating it was difficult; I’m no Ady.

* * *

Let us go back to Asia

My beloved lordly [úri]  flesh and blood, the cup is full. We don’t have any right to this place here, so let’s go back to Asia!… Perhaps we will find a small territory somewhere, possibly far away where even the Asiatic people are not inclined toward culture. According to our ancient chroniclers we came here with Árpád, Álmos, and company. But now let’s go back following Stefi Rakovszky, Zoltán Lengyel, Pál Móricz, Jr.[members of parliament] and others. Let’s go while we can.

This lordly crowd with its rich history yesterday managed to sink to the lowest Balkanic level. What happened in parliament yesterday was an entertaining comedy even in its baseness. For a minute I would like to be a treasonous “nationality agitator” so I would be able to fully comprehend with true sensitivity the scandal that occurred in the Hungarian parliament. For such stupidity we were not ready although we have been prepared for everything that can happen here.

Does this country need a parliament? The knout, not parliament. Pardon me, not the knout. Nursery school, kindergarten, and lots of patience if there is anything left of this virtue in the twentieth century.

Vilmos Vázsonyi, the only Hungarian member of parliament who was chosen by self-respecting people, was not allowed to speak in the Hungarian parliament. The children who didn’t allow him to speak are angry because he disturbed their game of merils; the children who play dice at the expense of 19 million people.

This scandal of this most Balkanic parliament opened our eyes. It uncovered the secret that would have been better not ever to be known. We found out that the children of the Hungarian parliament are all the same. It doesn’t matter whether they take their oath to the two-headed eagle, to the dewy pimple of Kálmán Széll, the hat of Lajos Kossuth, the slippers of the infallible Holy Father, it doesn’t matter to what. If one scratches just a little the thick lining of their abstruse cerebrum suddenly they are swarming in front of us in their pitiful similarity.

What did Vázsonyi say? Cultural beasts? In the divine name of culture let’s veto this title. For the sake of the reputation of the beasts because they always dare to show their teeth. Not only when they have something to do with a democratic member of parliament.

My beloved lordly flesh and blood. Asia roared in you yesterday. The nostalgia, the wishful desire of the nomadic, the brutish men broke into a full-fledged attack. I wasn’t there but I see the picture. In the middle there is a goaded single man of intellect. He is knowledgeable, he is ambitious, he is daring, he is determined, they hate him. And–oh, what a horror–his ancestry once-upon-a-time crossed the Jordan River. That little Jewish giant among us. This giant became famous overnight and today thousands adore him and he is knowledgeable. This indeed is the most awful part of it! This man dares to be in our ignorant crowd! And on top of it all, he is Jewish! There he stands confused in the middle of the crowd. A shrill invective can be heard. Zoltán Lengyel yelled, this young  simpleton with insufficient intelligence who in another country couldn’t even be cleaning silverware.  And Mr. Leszkay and Mr. Rakovszky, and other well known idiots. And Vázsonyi leaves this house of comedy in a one-horse buggy.

My beloved lordly flesh and blood. The game of nine-men’s merils that you lose hurts, doesn’t it? Isn’t the slothfulness of the eastern nomadic mentality came to the surface in order to annihilate  this man with instruments we brought along from the Crimea because we can’t fight with his weapons, learning and knowledge? Isn’t it so, my beloved lordly flesh and blood? Because this is the only way to excuse this scandal.

If at all. But not really. Other people are watching us. They see our inability to progress; they see that with Samoyed virtues we are sprawling and wrangling in the middle of Europe as a little piece of  the forgotten Middle Ages. They see that we are empty and they find us wanting. If we want to do something spectacular then we hit a Jew. As soon as we become sober we rush to drink the sweet drink of the colored glory of  the so-called one thousand years. We are idle and good-for-nothings. The parliament, the rock fortress of great nations, is for us good only to discredit it. Where will this lead, my beloved lordly flesh and blood? Because I’m Ur-magyar, not a Jewish peddler [handlézsidó] whom you call everybody who is superior to you. The end of it will be that we will be shown the door from here as if we had never been here before.

Let’s just once be scheming. Let’s go back to Asia. There we will not have to listen to uncomfortably truthful democrats. We will hunt, fish, play a quiet domestic card game and we can meditate about a certain beautiful one-thousand-year-old dream.

Let’s go back, my beloved lordly flesh and blood. Here the letter, the railway kill us. Moreover, there are too many Jews here who keep urging us to go forward. Down with the frills, swords, blessed rosaries, cards, flasks, greyhounds, race-horses, and ancestors! Let’s go back to Asia!

Nagyváradi Napló, January 31, 1902

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Kirsten
Guest

Ady: “They see our inability to progress…”

I think there is some room for optimism. Ady speaks of ONE person that stood against all others in parliament (and perhaps also society), by now this group is much larger. (But it has to learn to communicate among each other.)

petofi
Guest

Oh my.
God forbid that schools today should be teaching Ady instead of Wass or Nyiro–the soul and spirit of present day mustachios.

Member
Off-Topic (but I will insert also in the KLS article of a few days ago: A TASTE OF WIKIPEDIA Warning Your recent editing history shows that you are currently engaged in an edit war. Being involved in an edit war can result in your being blocked from editing—especially if you violate the three-revert rule, which states that an editor must not perform more than three reverts on a single page within a 24-hour period. Undoing another editor’s work—whether in whole or in part, whether involving the same or different material each time—counts as a revert. Also keep in mind that while violating the three-revert rule often leads to a block, you can still be blocked for edit warring—even if you don’t violate the three-revert rule—should your behavior indicate that you intend to continue reverting repeatedly. To avoid being blocked, instead of reverting please consider using the article’s talk page to work toward making a version that represents consensus among editors. See BRD for how this is done. You can post a request for help at a relevant noticeboard or seek dispute resolution. In some cases, you may wish to request temporary page protection. Harnad: It is not clear who sent… Read more »
Member

Oh my, I can see now how fast across the country they will change the name of elementary schools, high schools, squares, roads and streets.

14 14 18 18 22 22
Guest

Background: Vázsonyi Vilmos, az egyetlen magyar népképviselő. Representative, minister, lawyer..
http://hu.wikipedia.org/wiki/V%C3%A1zsonyi_Vilmos
A modest observation: There has not been a decent regime in Hungary for over 100 years.
Obvious question: Who wants to live in that country?

gdfxx
Guest

Stevan Harnad: I assume you know that you are dealing with someone, who on this page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Biruitorul describes him/herself – most likely himself, otherwise she would call herself Biruitoarea – (among other things) as follows: “I believe there is but one China, and her temporary capital is Taipei.” This must be someone totally disconnected from reality…

I also assume you know that Biruitorul is the Romanian word for The Conqueror.

Greg
Guest
I guess we will indeed go back to Asia. Yesterday’s polls, small by-elections in smallish municiplaities were terrible for the democratic left. Fidesz managed to win, and not only win, but in one case it increased its advantage (and in Dunakeszi, it got almost twice as many votes the second place candidate). And this is three years after getting into government, with all what we have seen. If they are this strong now, they will get much stronger as the psychology of the election cycles is that the tired voters start to get back to their party of choice and get more enthusiastic as the contest is approaching so popularity of the incumbent is at the minimum these days of the cycle (althogh perhaps it already Fidesz’s popularity started to increase from its minium). Not only the figures underscore the combined advantage of the right (Fidesz and Jobbik), it also shows that MSZP or Bajnai, try as they might could not get a couple of hundred voters to the booths. Their machinery versus that of Fidesz is so inferior, it is almost beyond belief. And note that for the left – provided they can combine into one entity – need… Read more »
petofi
Guest

@ Greg,

“If they are this strong now, they will get much stronger as the psychology of the election cycles….”

Be assured that Orwell is cringing (wherever he might be) to note
that fear and recompense are all that the little piggies know.
Fidesz has had sufficient time, and set the necessary examples,
that ‘betrayers’–towns and regions–will be punished monetarily and otherwise. This the selfish little Magyars know well.

Freedom 2101
Guest

Petofi: “betrayers — will be punished”
How can these betrayers look into the eyes of the children?
Those are the betrayed generations of Hungarians again.

petofi
Guest

Freedom 2101 :
Petofi: “betrayers — will be punished”
How can these betrayers look into the eyes of the children?
Those are the betrayed generations of Hungarians again.

Well, yes, this was my exact question to our in-laws (with whom we share two grand-children) and who are rabid Orban/Fidesz supporters. “Don’t you care what kind of
world your grand-children will live in?” But they’re whole-hearted believers and nothing (so far) can shake them. We rarely meet nowadays.

Member
gdfxx : Stevan Harnad: I assume you know that you are dealing with someone, who on this page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Biruitorul describes him/herself – most likely himself, otherwise she would call herself Biruitoarea – (among other things) as follows: “I believe there is but one China, and her temporary capital is Taipei.” This must be someone totally disconnected from reality… I also assume you know that Biruitorul is the Romanian word for The Conqueror. Well, that’s a relief. At least it makes it less likely that Biruitorul is deleting the KLS critiques because he is a Fidesz-Jobbik irredentist! Perhaps he is just a bit of a pedant, in whicih case there is some hope that this may still be settled amicably. Here is the latest round: Biruitorul: Just a minute, please: much of what you’ve said distorts or misinterprets my statements. The optimal sort of references are readily identified at WP:RS – “articles, books, monographs, or research papers that have been vetted by the scholarly community” (it’s probably a little too early for those) or “news reporting from well-established news outlets” (of those there have been plenty, and the article touches on them). The problem with Krugman’s blog is not that he… Read more »
Member

apologies for the bold face above: I just meant the names to be boldfaced…

Member

Samoyed Superpower

Perhaps in a firm, time-tested Western democracy a 2/3 supermajority with constitution-changing power would not be such a risk, but in the Balkan Backwater that Hungary is alas repeatedly proving itself to be, unable to shake off the dregs of the Dark Ages, supermajority power, conferred by a bare majority of a minority of voters (53% of about 33%, reportedly, and based on gerrymandered proportionalities — and since sunk to only about 25%) can, as we are now witnessing, become the royal road to ruin.

An
Guest

Sorry Eva, there is some merit to this analysis but it is not a very good one….. and then the final conclusions is a total fail.

Member

Update from Ms Szajer herself about the forcibly retired judges:

In 2012, 231 judges were sent on early retirement.

From these judges, 164 judges started a lawsuit against the Hungarian government.

From this number, 50 judges were reinstated.

http://hvg.hu/itthon/20130325_Hando_231_birot_kuldtunk_nyugdijba_tavaly

Member

I learned two new words: Merils and knout.

Thank you for translating this. It reinforces my conviction that the societal problems in Hungary today cannot be blamed on communism; their roots run far, far deeper than 1949. If you change the names and the location of the newspaper, Ady could have been writing yesterday.

Member

Pibroch :
I learned two new words: Merils and knout.
Thank you for translating this. It reinforces my conviction that the societal problems in Hungary today cannot be blamed on communism; their roots run far, far deeper than 1949. If you change the names and the location of the newspaper, Ady could have been writing yesterday.

“Nine Men’s Morris is a strategy board game for two players that emerged from the Roman Empire.The game is also known as Nine Man Morris, Mill, Mills, The Mill Game, Merels, Merrills, Merelles, Marelles, and Morelles in English.”

Hungarian name: malom.

rodrigo
Guest
http://aristotle.5mp.eu/web.php?a=aristotle&o=Zklf6SNpIF The analysis of László Kéri about Orbán just prior to 2002 is uncanny, spot-on. (I am a bit surprised as he never seemed to be very insightful to me, although I never really followed him). One point should be emphasised: the core group of 30-40 people are all, without exception, lawyers. It’s partly a chicken-egg issue, but lawyers are educated to be zealous and thinking always in set of clear rules and procedures, but the profession also attracts people with an affinity to such behaviour (to do anything for a client, even if the other side, your adversary dispises you). Economists, business people, administrators, teachers etc. cannot possible understand this lawyerly way of thinking and the value system a lawyer has (should have), hence the absolute and utter misunderstanding of Orbán and co. even after their tenure between 1998-2002, by the opposition or foreign politicians or analysts. The opposition doesn’t even know what they don’t know (ie. the lawyerly world view). But for them to understand this thinking would be like telling a man to imagine he is a woman or a white person to imagine he is an inner city black person. A non-lawyer has no idea. The… Read more »
Guest

“This scandal of this most Balkanic parliament opened our eyes. It uncovered the secret that would have been better not ever to be known. We found out that the children of the Hungarian parliament are all the same. It doesn’t matter whether they take their oath to the two-headed eagle, to the dewy pimple of Kálmán Széll, the hat of Lajos Kossuth, the slippers of the infallible Holy Father, it doesn’t matter to what. If one scratches just a little the thick lining of their abstruse cerebrum suddenly they are swarming in front of us in their pitiful similarity.”

The most striking observation: The children of the Hungarian parliament are all the same!

Is it possible that today’s Fidesz, Jobbik, MSzP, Egyutt and others are also all alike? That would explain why the opposition parties cannot unite in resistance to Orbán’s carte blanche constitution. Wouldn’t they mind to govern by such a constitution themselves?

petofi
Guest

The opposition cannot unite because it is very easy to bribe people. Rare is the politician, in Hungary, who will not take it (Gyurcsany, Bokros, Bauer…and a few others).

Member

One third of the graduating high-school students will go abroad for university studies at the best schools in Budapest

http://eduline.hu/erettsegi_felveteli/2013/3/19/Egyre_tobb_diak_jelentkezik_kulfoldi_egyete_Q4SVQW

Member

As of 5:42 PM, March 25, the mega-amendment of the “basic law” has not been promulgated in the Magyar Kozlony.

evitae
Guest

Reblogged this on eVitae and commented:
Magyarország: itt felejtett középkor. Ki hinné, hogy 110 év múlva kb. ugyanott tart az ország, mint amikor Ady Endre fakadt ki az akkori magyar politikai kupleráj miatt a “Menjünk vissza Ázsiába” c., a Nagyváradi Naplóban 1902. január 31-én megjelent írásában. (http://mek.oszk.hu/05500/05551/html/adypr0183.html)
Nem lehet eléggé megköszönni S.Balogh Évának, hogy Ady háborgásait az angolul értők (vagyis a nagyvilág) számára is elérhetővé tette, a múlt és jelenkori magyar politikai mocsárról szóló, rendkívül tartalmas tudósításai keretében.
Many thanks to Eva S. Balogh for her great work.

Andrew R
Guest

Ms. Balogh. Would you have a link to the Ady article in the original Hungarian?

Andrew R
Guest

Sorry – just found the one above from evitae.

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