“Traditional Hungarian-Polish relations have perhaps begun to wane in recent decades, but they have been given renewed impetus by Poland’s Hungarian Cultural Season, which has once again brought Hungarian cultural values closer to the people of Poland”, Minister of State for Cultural and Science Diplomacy István Íjgyártó told Hungarian news agency MTI on Friday on the opening day of the Katowice International Book Fair, where Hungary is guest of honour.

“The series of events lasting some 18 months has been given a unique framework by literature: the Warsaw International Book Fair last May and the Katowice Book Fair that began today. The official closing ceremony will be held in Warsaw in December”, he added.

With relation to the Book Fair, the Minister of State said it provides for the widest possible spectrum of tastes on the part of Polish readers in view of the fact that Hungary is represented at the Fair with over 60 books, including not just novels but children’s books, lyrical works and historical fiction.

DownloadPhoto: Jakub Włodek

Hungarian books published in Polish for the Fair include two by Sándor Márai, Memoirs by Péter Nádas and György Szöllősi’s biography of Puskas, as well as a full drama anthology, a novel and two stories by Krisztina Tóth and the historical works of István Kovács, Mr. Íjgyártó listed.

The Minster of State said that in his opinion the events of the 18-month Hungarian Cultural Season had contributed greatly to the fact that interest in Hungarian literature has significantly increased, but they had also done their best to present the widest possible spectrum of Hungarian culture at the gook fair.

Mr. Íjgyártó recalled that the inspiration for Poland’s Hungarian Cultural Season was “the joint experience of 1956”, in view of the fact that the process leading up to the 1956 Hungarian Revolution began with the Poznan Riots and the events in Hungary on 23 October 1956 also began with an expression of solidarity with the people of Poland. “Accordingly, the 60th anniversary of the events of 1956 provided an excellent opportunity to once again place Polish-Hungarian friendship at the focus of attention”, he pointed out.

DownloadPhoto: Jakub Włodek

The diverse range of programmes included a historical playground and an exhibition by Hungarian avant-garde artists, in addition to which the Polish public had the opportunity to become acquainted with several plays, dance performances and pieces of Hungarian folk and popular music. “We did our best to divide presentations not only according to genre, but also geographically, because the Southern Polish regions traditionally maintain close relations with Hungary, and accordingly we wanted to push this imaginary border north towards Warsaw and made sure to also include cities in northern Poland”, he stressed, adding that the Hungarian Cultural Season was particularly welcomed in these areas and the people living there were also open to Hungarian culture.