B bábi, Tibor


Book Publishing In Hungary



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Book Publishing In Hungary – Monks and priests of the West brought to Hungary the first, mostly liturgical books after the coversion of the Hungarian tribes to Christianity in the 11th century. The majority of these books were lost in the Mongol-Tartar invasion of 1241-1242, as well as in subsequent wars. Only some 120 medieval codices survived. In the wake of the Turkish occupation, from 1526 to 1686, only half a percent of the illuminated manuscripts survived. Before medieval book publishing, Hungary was on equal footing with the rest of Europe. The library of King Mátyás I (Mathias Corvinus) (1458-1490) with its magnificent Bibliotheca Corviniana was second only to that of the Vatican Library. Today there are only 215 of them extant in 49 various libraries of the world. In 1472 András (Andreas) Hess, a monk, set up the first printing press in Hungary. It was the sixth in the world. The first book was the Chronica Hungarorum. With the spread of the Reformation, demands for books grew. In 1690, at the town of Vizsoly, the first complete Hungarian Protestant Bible was translated and published by the Reformed minister Gáspár Károli. It exercised a decisive impact upon the development and the spread of the Hungarian language and was instrumental for the survival of the Hungarian nation and its culture. From 1571 to 1600 some 605 titles were published. In the beginning the printers themselves were the publishers, a common practice in the 17th century. In the 17-18th centuries, as everywhere in Europe, authors published their own works, the printing and publishing expenses being defrayed by friends or patrons. Calendars, compendiums concerning agriculture, weather-conditions, household advices, stories and historical events were published beside ecclesiastical works. Books became cheaper; and even in village markets one could buy it for the price of one kg of beef. From the beginning of the 19th century, with the spread of literacy and national revival, the demand for Hungarian books grew rapidly. Publishers such as Lample, Emrich, Wodianer and Trattner were active in publishing works of writers and poets, as well as dictionaries, encyclopedias, scholarly and technical books. To establish Hungarian publishing houses became only possible following the 1867 Compromise with Austria. The first publisher was the Athenaeum Co. followed by the Révai Brothers; then in 1873, the Franklin Society, in 1884 the Pallas Co., and soon a number of others emerged. Following the Communist takeover in 1948, the State gradually nationalized the publishing firms, printers and booksellers, and took over the publishing of books. In 1953 a Publishing Council was set up to synchronize publishing plans that later became the Publishing Directorate. Larger firms were organized for various fields of publishing, e.g. for children’s and juvenile books, for technical books, for academic publication, for legal and economic subjects, for fiction and poetry, for ideology and textbooks, etc. Thereafter only politically inspected and approved books could be published in Hungary. Following the withdrawal of the Soviet occupying forces in 1991, several private publishers reappeared and resumed business in independent Hungary. In 2008 14,447 book titles were published in Hungary. – B: 1051, 1207, 1020, T: 7673. →Károli, Gáspár.



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