Gáspár Nagy Memorial House
9831 Bérbaltavár Rákóczi Ferenc utca 33 , Magyarország
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Name of collection
- Gáspár Nagy Memorial House
Provenance and cultural activities
The Memorial House was opened in 2013 by the Gáspár Nagy Foundation. The collection is located in the house in which Nagy was born in Bérbaltavár, a small village in Vas County in western Hungary. Nagy spent his childhood in this one-storey, two-room peasant house. Following his death in 2007, his friends and family sought ways to commemorate his life and work. They established the Gáspár Nagy Foundation which, among others things, renovated the house. The opening of the Memorial House and its permanent exhibition was the central act in a series of commemorative events.
The Memorial House’s main target audience is the local youth. Interactive literature classes and field trips are expected to nurture interest in Nagy's work and inspire students to read his poetry, subscribe to the moral values he believed in, and live a religious life. They are also part of a conscious effort to strengthen local identity. At the wider level, the collection is expected to support the integration of Gáspár Nagy into the national pantheon of poets.
The house in which the collection is held is of particular relevance to the political opposition during the socialist period, as it gave shelter to young revolutionaries (who have come in common parlance to be referred to as “Pesti Srácok,” or “Pest boys”) on their way to Austria after the 1956 Revolution had been defeated. According to Nagy, these teenagers told him stories about the fights, and these accounts made a lasting impact on him, in part because he was a child at the time. The “real” story of the Revolution was of great interest to him ever since, and when he started to write poetry after the invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, he often alluded to both revolutions in his works. He saw the two events in parallel, and he became convinced that the “Central European” nations shared a common fate.
From 1970 to 1989, he was monitored by the political police, who suspected him engaging in “opposition activities,” spreading anti-Marxist views, and organizing opposition groups. In 1975, the journal Mozgó Világ (“Moving World”) was launched with his poem Csak néztem Olga Korbutot (“I was simply watching Olga Korbut”). Previously, the censors demanded that the original title, “Szaltószabadság” (Summersault Freedom) be changed, since it referred subtly to the absence of freedom. In 1981, when Mozgó Világ was terminated by the authorities, he was elected (by secret ballot) to serve as secretary of the public body of the Writer’s Union. At the beginning of the 1980s, public debates held at the meetings of the Union were forum for anti-establishment voices. In 1982, his poem “Három megjegyzés: egy válasz” (“Three Comments: One Answer”) were deleted by the censors from an issue of the journal Tiszatáj (“Tisza Region”) honouring poet Gyula Illyés on his 80th birthday. In 1985, he was forced to resign from his position in the Writer’s Union because of a poem he published in the journal Új Forrás (“New Source”) the previous year. The poem, “Öröknyár: elmúltam 9 éves” (“Eternal Summer: I was more than 9 years old”), was a clear call for a reburial of Imre Nagy. In 1986, the editorial board of Tiszatáj was replaced because they had published Nagy’s verse “A Fiú naplójából” (“From a Boy's Diary”). The poem was a protest against the betrayal of the legacy of the 1956 Revolution. These last two poems were distributed in samizdat publications and were publicly recited by Nagy on 16 June 1988 at Imre Nagy’s grave as part of an event organized by the political opposition. In the Memorial House, several manuscripts of these poems and related journal issues are on exhibit.
The original idea was to preserve Gáspár Nagy’s house of birth for the poet emotionally attached to the site. A primary purpose was to present an authentic interior of a peasant house from the middle of the 20th century. From the beginning of 2000s, the Hungarian state supported the establishment and maintenance of literary memorial houses, therefore steps were made to create the memorial site. From 2008, however, the program was terminated, and the project had to be launched as a private initiative co-financed by the family and the European Union’s LEADER grant.
Description of content
The collection consists of manuscripts (and reproductions of manuscripts), dedicated books, photos, personal documents and IDs, prizes, artworks, personal belongings, and restored furniture. The he collection was not intended soley as a commemoration of the dissent activities of Gáspár Nagy, but rather as a tribute to his life and oeuvre in general. However, anti-communist opposition is an important aspect of his story and a recurrent theme in his work, so the exhibition naturally features these aspects as well.
- manuscripts (ego-documents, diaries, notes, letters, drafts, etc.): 0-9
- other artworks (that cannot be classified by other filter categories such as paintings, sculptures, graphics, etc.): 10-99
- photos: 10-99
Date of founding
Place of founding
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- completely open to the public
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Author(s) of this page
- Scheibner, Tamás
"A Nagy Gáspár-emlékház avatása Bérbaltaváron." Magyar Művészeti Akadémia (MMA) [Hungarian Academy of Arts]. Last modified October 7, 2013. https://youtu.be/fw_sMOzSo6I.
"Átadták Nagy Gáspár költő szülőházát." Magyar Művészeti Akadémia (MMA) [Hungarian Academy of Arts]. Last modified October 3, 2013. http://www.mma.hu/muveszeti-hirek/-/event/10180/atadtak-nagy-gaspar-kolto-szulohazat.
Görömbei, András. Nagy Gáspár. Pozsony: Kalligram, 2004.
Kiss, Gy. Csaba. "A zóna ideje, avagy közép-európai emlékezetalakzatok." In Nagy Gáspár-emlékkonferencia: 2012. május 17, 15-22. [Budapest]: Magyar Művészeti Akadémia, 2013.
Vasy, Géza. "Szaltószabadság." In Nagy Gáspár-emlékkonferencia: 2012. május 17, 15-22. [Budapest]: Magyar Művészeti Akadémia, 2013.
Pécsi, Györgyi, Szabó, Márta, interview by , May 19, 2016. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection