Monday, 23 October 2017

János Arany and Europeana

This post is dedicated to the János Arany jubilee year in Hungary and to Europeana. The two topics will be linked insomuch as I will explore what an interested reader may find in Europeana about / from János Arany and what (s)he can do with the findings.
Miklós Barabás: János Arany
Anon. photograph
The jubilee year (200th anniversary of his birth) celebrates János Arany as one of the greatest Hungarian poets, scholars, translators in the 19th Century. Arany’s poetry is taught in schools, is recited in theatres, is published again and again in popular and scholarly publications. He is also celebrated as a fantastic translator, who rendered from Greek drama to Shakespeare a great variety of authors into Hungarian. As far as translations are concerned he was not only a awe-inspiring master of the Hungarian language but also did much for the translation of the entire Shakespearean dramatic oeuvre into Hungarian as the president of the Hungarian Shakespeare Committee. The Committee was brought into being as a working committee of the Kisfaludy Society and was responsible for the publication of the first complete Shakespeare (1864-1878). Arany himself translated the Midsummer Night’s Dream, King John and Hamlet for the project, which translations became iconic, sacred translations of these plays and remained so until the end of the 20th century. A more detailed article on Arany can be found in Wikipedia.

My screen image -- ZSA.
Now, what can be found about Arany in Europeana? When searching for the name “János Arany” the user is given 856 hits, most of which are relevant and a few to be eliminated, as they are about contemporaries and other topics, people, objects. Then I used the awesome filtering option of the portal (gateway) to narrow down the search for images and the machine found 435 image files. I have checked them first by 12 images per page. I could find this way interesting portraits about him from a variety of ages and purposes. Some of them represent him as seated in Hungarian traditional garments or just suits with his unmistakeable large moustache, some of them show him as a middle-aged gentleman, some as an old man. Most of the images cannot be included in this post (unfortunately mostly Hungarian), as their copyright statement claimed that permission is to be requested from the institution owning the object.

Arany's statue in front of National Musuem
Maybe I am too lazy, or maybe I represent the majority of users, I did not have the time and energy to request the permission so for the sake of remaining on the safe side I will not include them in this post. The only image that I have found useable from the Hungarian collections can be seen here: “Statue of János Arany in front of the Hungarian National Museum”. The significance of this photo is that it fosters Arany’s iconic status as the statute is located in front of one of the most important Hungarian sites of memory.

Museo Postal y Filatélico de Barcelona
Then I checked images located originally in European countries outside Hungary.
Arany's armchair
Having found digital objects in the UK (Bodleian Library) and in Germany and Spain (this latter is on the left), I would like to mention only the ones from Romania. These images are of objects in Arany’s memorial museum located in Szalonta, Romania. These images can be freely used (OK, NC-ND licence) so you can find some of them here as well. I am not quite sure that Arany actually used these items, whether he sat in this very chair, and if yes, when in his life, whether he used the inkwell below.

Arany's inkwell
Though I am not quite sure about the intimate relationship between Arany and the objects, I am rather positive that these and the rest of the items in Europeana are worth calling attention to. And also that Arany himself is worth remembering as an outstanding poet, a scholar and translator not only in Hungary but in Europe as well. He was a man of great talents and used these talents to culturally integrate and link Hungary to Europe, Europe to Hungary. Both the jubilee year and Europeana remind us of the great cultural heroes in Europe, and present models to follow. Happy Birthday, János Arany!

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