Page:A history of Hungarian literature.djvu/6

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PREFACE

Hungarian poet, Arany, a book of remarkable power, which brought Professor Riedl into immediate prominence in his own country.

Competent translators were found in Mr. Ch. Arthur Ginever and his wife (born Ilona de Gjöry), a daughter of the Hungarian poet Gjöry, who have brought to the work all possible skill and care. I am also much indebted to Mr. and Mrs. Ginever for help and advice in translating and revising a few of the specimens of Hungarian poetry.

The book is unique in its kind in that it has been written entirely for the English public, and has never appeared in Hungarian ; indeed no such work exists in Hungary, and it will be as new to the Hungarian public as it is to the English. All honour is due to the Hungarian Academy for their generosity in thus spreading knowledge among the nations.

Hungarian literature makes, I think, special appeal to Englishmen. It is generally recognised how closely our literature is bound up with the country's religious life and political history. But in no country in the world is literature so much a part of its history, of its patriotic feelings, and of its struggles to preserve its liberties, as in Hungary. The epic and lyrical poetry, the drama, and the prose of every class, all alike sound those notes, and the melody is triumphant or despairing according to the period of the nation's history in which it was composed. Less perhaps than any other European literature has Hungarian literature been influenced by the literature of other lands. It mirrors throughout the simple, unsophisticated feelings and thoughts of men who loved their country wholly, sincerely, faithfully, and were ready to lay down their lives to preserve its freedom. Here, if ever, the soul of a people is revealed in its literature.