Page:A history of Hungarian literature.djvu/5

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PREFACE

"O mächtig ist der Trieb des Vaterlandes."

Some years ago, when travelling in Hungary, I paid a visit to my friend Dr. Szily, then Secretary of the Royal Hungarian Academy in Budapest, and chanced to take up a volume of Mr. Gosse's "Literatures of the World" series, published by Mr. Heinemann, which was lying on his table. "Ah," I said, "we ought to have a book like that in England about Hungarian literature. Very few of us know anything of your literature, of the fine poetry it contains, of the many features which distinguish it from other European literatures." "Well," replied Dr. Szily, "if you can get the book published in Mr. Gosse's well-known series, the Hungarian Academy shall commission the ablest exponent of Hungarian literature in Hungary to write it, and present the manuscript to you as a gift."

"Your offer is very handsome," I said, "and as soon as I get back to England, I'll ask Mr. Heinemann if he will accept it."

That is the story of the origin of this history of Hungarian literature. The publisher and the editor alike expressed their willingness to accept the generous offer of the Hungarian Academy.

The choice of the Academy finally fell on Professor Riedl, Professor of Hungarian Literature in the University of Budapest, and the author of a biography of the