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John Lukacs’s “Budapest 1900: A Historical Portrait of a City and Its Culture” is perhaps one of the most read book concerning the social history of Budapest at the turn of the century. Lukacs, an american historian, obviously hungarian by origin, knows to catch the reader attention using an essayst style that’s close to novelist’s:

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“Lukacs’s book is a lyrical, sometimes dazzling, never merely nostalgic evocation of a glorious period in the city’s history. . . . {His} true sympathy lies . . . not with the famous expatriates, but with the writers and intellectuals who lived and died at home: the poets Endre Ady and Mihaly Babits; the novelists Ferenc Herczeg, Sandor Hunyady, Frigyes Karinthy, Dezso Kosztolanyi, Gyula Krudy, Kalman Mikszath, and Zsigmond Moricz; the political essayist DezsoSzabo; the playwright Erno Szep; the literary historian Antal Szerb; and others. . . . {John Lukacs} sets out to explain Hungarian literature to English-speaking readers. Though I have no idea whether or not he will succeed, few interpreters of Hungarian literature have made a more touching and eloquent attempt.” — The New York Review of Books

However, when I first read the book, I wasn’t impressed only by the content of the book tiself. In my opinion, what’s also cathing eye on that book was the photo on the cover. It represents the terrace of a well known coffe-house at the turn of the century, in Andrassy utca, just in front of the Opera, in the VIth district. Nowaday the coffe-shop doesn’t exist no more and the building itself is on reconstruction. I tried to take a picture exactly in the same position of the original 1900′s photo.

The Lukacs essay’s cover picture on the very left, while on the right is the same view at the present date:

lukacs.jpg cimg0186.jpg

People simply disappear with an effect not so far by those used in tv-series such as C.S.I., isn’t ?

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