B bábi, Tibor

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Berze Nagy, János (John) (Besenyőtelek, 23 August 1879 - Pécs, 6 April 1946) – Ethnographer, school inspector. He was born into a peasant family as the eleventh child. His high school studies were at Gyöngyös (1889-1896), Eger (1896-1897) and Jászberény (1897-1898), where he matriculated. He started his ethnographic collecting at the age of 14. He studied at the Arts Faculty of the University of Budapest, concluding with a Ph.D. in Arts in 1905. In the same year he started to work as a school inspecting clerk at Lugos (now Lugoj, Romania). From 1907 to 1913 he worked on his magnum opus: the Vocabulary of Fables (Meseszótár), accepted for publication by the Athenaeum Publishers, while he worked at Nagyenyed (now Aiud, Romania) from 1908, and at Csíkszereda (now Miercurea Ciuc, Romania) from 1915. This great work became lost. In the middle of World War I, when the Romanians invaded Transylvania, entering the war against the Central Powers, thus hoping to gain more, Berze Nagy had to flee with his family, and as a result he lost his 800-volume library. For a year he found refuge and work in Debrecen. However, from 1917, after the intruding Romanian army units were driven out from Transylvania, he could go back to Csíkszereda and work there. Then he was appointed as Royal Hungarian School Inspector at Pancsova (now Pančevo, Serbia). Despite the upheavals caused by the dismemberment of Historic Hungary, he found work in Szekszárd (1919); then, from 1924 until his retirement in 1939, he worked at Pécs in southern Transdanubia. In order to salvage his lost collection of fables, he assembled a great catalogue of more than 500 Hungarian folk-tales, the first of its kind in Europe. His work on mythology remained in manuscript form, entitled the Origin of the Ancestral Hungarian Religion (A magyar ősvallás eredete) remained in manuscript form and was published only after his death with the new title of Tree Reaching to the Sky (Égigérő fa) (1958, 1961, 2004). Another significant work by him is the Hungarian Folktale Types, vols. i,ii (Magyar népmesetipusok, I-II) (1957). The high school of Gyöngyös was named after him in 1971. – B: 1031, 1105, T: 7456.

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