2009 | 1(18) | 2 | 42-57
Article title

NOTES ON THE CULTURAL AND IDEOLOGICAL CONTEXT OF THE IDEA OF 'NEPISEG' (POPULISM) IN THE DOCTRINE OF CENTRAL-EUROPEAN SOCIALIST REALISM (Poznamky k ideovo-historickemu kontextu pojmu 'ludovost' v stredoeuropskom socialistickom realizme)

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The aim of the study is to describe and to examine the notion of 'nepiseg' (populism), which was one of the central conceptions of socialist realism and the major political requirement of the so-called new literature in the Stalinist era as declared by political and cultural leaders. This notion has not been researched thoroughly. The authoress of the present study, therefore, expresses her own reservations as far as her definition of the term, which eludes a precise definition, is concerned. 'Nepiesseg' (folksiness, traditionalism) describes the 'appearance of traditional elements in the elite culture' and it belongs to the authentic folkloristic/traditional elements of the culture. On the other hand, 'nepiseg' (populism) means 'traditionalism' which has turned into a 'political ideology' in the 'nepi' (populist) movement. It is obvious that only the latter can be applied to socialist realism. The authoress of the study tries to examine the ideological and cultural roots of these notions, concentrating on the ideological and critical aspects of the problem. The notion originated with Herder. In his 'Ideen zur Philosophie der Geschichte der Menschheit' (1784-1791), the German philosopher claimed that every nation has its own specific character rooted in prehistoric times and that language, popular tales, songs and customs preserve 'the spirit of the people'. This is 'the essence of the nation' and is articulated in several ways according to the members of the 'nepiesseg' literary trend. The idea of the core part of 'nepiesseg', of 'people' itself, however, remained unclear in both the 19th and the 20th centuries. In this way the works of Janos Horvath (1922) and many others following his theory canonized the notion in literary history. This undefined meaning of 'people' was one of the main issues of socialist realism. In the second part of the study, some case studies are presented, presupposing that 'nepiseg' is the most significant link between Hungarian and Czech socialist realism, and it is demonstrated how different the appearance of 'nepiseg' in these national versions of socialist realism was.
  • Magdolna Balogh, Magyar Tudomanyos Akademia Irodalomtudomanyi Intezet, Budapest 1118, Menesi ut 11-13, Hungary
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