Archive for the ‘Bibliophilia’ Category

A very mysterious manuscript was traveling through north and center Europe in the last few months as well as in the last few centuries. The Story itself is quite intriguing since the legends wants the Manuscript have being written by a monk under the Faustian supervision and consulting of Lucifer himself. From The Prague Post, September 12th, 2007 issue

 

By Sezin Rajandran

For the Post

How does one gauge the value of a soul? Faust learned this lesson the hard way, by selling his soul and then regretting it. American musician Robert Johnson supposedly sold his soul in order to become the best guitar player the blues had ever seen.

To the Bohemian monk who created the Codex Gigas,otherwise known as the Devil’s Bible, legend has it the price of his soul was worth the one night it took to create the biggest medieval book in the world.

The Devil’s Bible was taken as war booty from a small monastery in Podlažice, near Chrudim, by the Swedish Army during the Thirty Years’ War. For the past 359 years, it’s been on display in the National Library of Sweden. And now it’s coming back — albeit only temporarily, in a special exhibit at the National Library in Prague that opens Sept. 20 and runs through Jan. 6.

The air of mystery surrounding this amazing artifact has been deepened by the National Library’s refusal to say a single word about the exhibit prior to a press conference Sept. 18. But the basic facts about the book are well-known.

Made of the skins of about 160 animals — some say donkeys, others say calves — the manuscript measures a king-size 90 x 50 x 22 centimeters (roughly 36 x 20 x 9 inches) and weighs 75 kilos (165 pounds), requiring two people to lift it.

According to the National Library’s Web site (www.nkp.cz), legend holds that a monk was sentenced to be buried alive for a breach in Benedictine conduct. In order to forgo his punishment, he agreed to make the most magnificent book the world had ever seen in honor of his brotherhood. The catch was that he was given just one night to complete this Herculean task.

Around midnight, the monk realized he would not be able to finish by daylight, so he invoked the devil to help him, selling his soul in the process. As a tribute to his helper, the monk included a quirky image of the devil within the manuscript, thus giving the book its nickname.

The real story of the Codex Gigas is not fully known, but no less intriguing. Although there are no records of the origins of the book or its author, the first mention of theCodex Gigas appeared in the year 1295. However, the National Library Web site notes it is very likely that the Devil’s Bible dates to as early as 1229. Scholars believe the book was most likely the life’s work of one scribe, who is estimated to have spent 20 years or more creating it. The unity of the writing, as well as the synchronization of the overall composition and minute details, supports the idea that it was the work of a single person.

The leather parchment pages contain both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible in pre-Vulgate Latin and much more: a Penitential (a priest’s manual of sins and suitable penance); Isidore of Seville’s Etymologiae, a 20-volume encyclopedia from the seventh century; Josephus’ Antiquities of the Jews; a necrology of the Podlažice monastery as well as a list of all the living monks in Podlažice; and numerous texts of mystical incantations for everything from curing illnesses to catching thieves.

In terms of local history, perhaps the most significant entry is the Chronicle of Bohemia (Chronica Bohemorum), written by Cosmas of Prague, which details major points of Bohemian history and genealogy.

While the secrecy surrounding the return of the Devil’s Bible is intriguing and curious, it’s not entirely inappropriate. Years ago, the Codex Gigas was attacked while on display in the National Library of Sweden; details of that event are still sketchy. Access to the book’s various incantations has always been restricted. And the fact that a primarily religious work includes codified pagan and mystical beliefs makes the book an extremely rare and even more bizarre artifact.

[…]

The special Lucifer signature in form of an illuminated figure of a Daemon, is well visible in the infamous page 289 recto:

and what about the relationship with Prague ? Within the several manuscripts which constitute the whole book, there is also the famous text  Chronica Bohemorum, written by Cosmas of Prague. The books 4 till 9 of this text report the legend of Princess Libuse, the mythical founder of the city of Prague ! (courtesy of Czech Digital Library, http://www.manuscriptorium.com)

Capitulum quartum

Quarum maior natu nuncupata est Kazi que Medee Cholchice herbis et carmine nec Peonio magistro arte medicinali cessit, quia sepe Parcas cessare interminali ab opere.

Ipsaque fata sequi fecit sua carmine iussa. Unde et incole huius terre, quando aliquid est perditum et quod se posse rehaberedesperant, tale proverbium de ea ferunt: "Illud nec ipsa potestrecuperare Kazi."

Ad Cereris natam hec est ubi rapta tyrannam, eius usque hodie cernitur tumulus, ab incolis terre ob memoriam sue domme nimis alte congestus, super ripam fluminis Mse iuxta viam, qua itur in partes provincie Behin, per montem qui dicitur Osseca ..

Laude fuit digna, sed natu Tethka secunda, Expers et maris, emuncte femine naris, que ex suo nomine Tethin castrum natura loci firmissimum prerupte rupis in culmine iuxta fluvium Msam edificavit. Hec stulto et insipienti populo Oreadas, Driadas, Amadriadasadorare et colere et omnem supersticiosam sectam ac sacrilegosritus instituit et docuit; sicut actenus multi villani velut pagani, hic latices seu ignes colit, iste lucos et arbores aut lapides adorat, ille montibus sive collibus litat, alius, que ipse fecit, idola surda et muta rogat et orat, ut domum suam et se ipsum regant.

Tertia natu minor, sed prudentia maior, vocitata est Lubossa, que etiam tunc potentissimam iuxta silvam, que tendit ad pagumZtibecnam, construxit et ex suo nomine eam Lubossin vocitavit. Hec fuit inter femi

nas una prorsus femina in
consilio provida, in sermone strennua, corpore casta, moribus proba, ad dirimenda populi iudicia nulli secunda, omnibus affabilis, sed plus amabilis, feminei sexus decus et gloria, dictans negocia providenter virilia. Sed quia nemo ex omni parte beatuspozn., talis ac tante laudis femina – heu dira conditio humana – fuit phitonissa. Et quia populo multa et certa predixit futura, omnis illa gens commune cnsilium iniens patris eius post necem hanc sibi prefecit in iudicem. Ea tempestate inter duos cives, opibus et genere eminentiores et qui videbantur populi esse rectores, orta est non modica litigio agri contigui de termino pozn.. Qui in tantum proruperunt in mutuam rixam, ut alter alterius spissam unguibus volaret in barbam, et nudis conviciis semet ipsos turpiter digito sub nasum confundentes intrant bachantes curiam ac non sine magno strepitu adeunt domnam et, ut ratione iusticie dubiam inter eosdirimat causam, suppliciter rogant. Illa interim, ut est lasciva mollicies mulierum, quando non habet quem timeat virum, cubito subnixapozn.ceu puerum enixa, alte in pictis stratis nimis molliter acubabat.Cumque per callem iusticiepozn.incedens, personam hominum non respiciens tocius controversie inter eos orte causam ad statum rectitudinis perduceret, tunc is, cuius causa in iudicio non obtinuit palmam, plus iusto indignatus terque quaterque caput concussitpozn.et more suo terram ter baculo percussit ac barbam pleno ore saliva conspergenspozn.exclamat: O iniuria viris haud toleranda! Femina rimosa virilia iudicia mente tractat dolosa. Scimus profecto, quia femina sive stans seu in solio residens parum sapit, quanto minus, cum in stratis accubat? Re vera tunc magis est ad accessum mariti apta quam dictare militibus iura. Certum est enim longos esse crinespozn. omnibus, sed breves sensus mulieribus. Satius est moripozn., quam viris talia pati. Nos solos obprobrium nationibus et gentibus destituit natura, quibus deest rector et virilis censura, et quos premunt feminae iura. Ad hec domna illatam sibi contumeliam dissimulans et dolorem cordis femineo pudore celans subrisit et Ita est, inquit, ut ais; femina sum, femina vivo, sed ideo parum vobissapere videor, quia vos non in virga ferreapozn. iudico, et quoniam sine timore vivitis, merito me despicitis. Nam ubi est timorpozn. pozn., ibi honor. Nunc autem necesse est valde, ut habeatis rectorem femina ferociorem. Sic et columbepozn. olim albiculum milvum, quemsibi elegerant in regem, spreverunt, ut vos me spernitis, et accipitrem multo ferociorem sibi ducem prefecerunt, qui fingens culpas tam nocentes quam innocentes cepit necare; et ex tunc usque hodie vescitur columbis accipiter. Ite nunc domum, ut quem vos cras eligatis in dominum, ego assumam mihi in maritum.

Interea predictas advocat sorores, quas non inpares agitabantfurores, quarum magica arte et propria ludificabat populum per omnia; ipsa enim Lubossa fuit, sicut prediximus, phitonissa, utChumeaSibilla, altera venefica ut Colchis Medea, tercia malefica, ut Aeaeae Circes pozn.. Illa nocte quid consilii inierint ille tres Eumenidesaut quid secreti egerint, quamvis ignotum fuerit, tamen omnibus luce clarius mane patuit, cum soror earum Lubossa et locum, ubi duxfuturus latuit, et quis esset nomine indicavit. Quis enim cerederet, quod de aratro sibi ducem prerogarent? Aut quis sciret, ubi araret, qui rector populi fieret? Quid enim phitonicus furor nescit? Aut quid est, quod magica ars non efficit? Potuit Sibilla Romano populo seriem fatorum fere usque in diem iudicii predicere, que etiam, si fas est crederepozn., de Christo vaticinata est, sicut quidam doctorpozn. in sermone sue predicationis versus Virgilii pozn. ex persona Sibille de adventu Domini compositos introducit. Potuit Medea herbis et carmine sepe e celo Hyperionem et Berecinthiam deducerepozn.; potuit ymbres, fulgura et tonitrua elicere de nubibus; potuit regemEgacum pozn. de sene facere iuvenem. Carmine Circes socii Ulixesconversi suntpozn. in diversas ferarum formas et rex Picuspozn. in volucrem, que nunc dicitur picus. Quid mirum? Quanta egerunt artibus suis magi in Egypto, qui pene totidem mira carminibus suis fecerunt, quot Dei famulus Moyses ex virtute Dei exhibuisse perhibetur. Hactenus hecpozn..

Capitulum quintum

Posterea die, ut iussum fuerat, sine mora convocant cetum,congregant populum; conveniunt simul omnes in unum, feminaresidens in sublimi solio concionatur ad agrestes viros: O plebs miseranda nimis, que libera vivere nescit, et quam nemo bonus nisi cum vita amittitpozn., illam vos non inviti libertatem fugitis et insuete servituti colla sponte submittitis. Heu tarde frustra vos penitebit, sicut ranaspozn.penituit, cum ydrus, quem sibi fecerant regem, eas necare cepit. Aut si nescitis, que sint iura ducis, temptabo vobis ea verbis dicere paucis. Imprimis facile est ducem ponere, sed difficile est positum deponere; nam qui modo est sub vestra potestate, utrum eum constituatis ducem an non, postquam vero constitutus fuerit, vos et omnia vestra erunt eius in potestate. Huius in conspectu vestra febricitabunt genua, et muta sicco palato adherebit lingua pozn.pozn.. Ad cuius vocem pre nimio pavore vix respondebitis: „Ita domine, ita domine“, cum ipse solo suo nutu sine vestro preiudicio hunc dampnabit et hunc obtruncabit, istum in carcerem mitti, illum precipiet in patibulo suspendi. Vospozn.ipsos et ex vobis, quos sibi libet, alios servos, alios rusticos, alios tributarios, alios exactores, alios tortores, alios precones, alios cocos seu pistores aut molendinarios faciet. Constituet etiam sibi tribunos, centuriones, villicos, cultores vinearum simul et agrorum, messores segetum, fabros armorum, sutores pellium diversarum et coriorum. Filios vestros et filias in obsequiis suis ponet; de bubus etiam et equis sive equabus seu peccoribus vestris optima queque ad suumplacitumtollet. Omnia vestra, que sunt potiora in villis, in campis, in agris, in pratis, in vineis, auferet et in usus suos rediget. Quid multis moror
? Aut ad quid hec, quasi vos ut terream, loquor? Si persistitis inincepto et non fallitis voto, iam vobis et nomen ducis et locum ubi est indicabo. Ad hec vulgus ignobilepozn. confuso exultat clamore; omnes uno ore ducem sibi poscunt dari. Quibus illa: En, inquit, en ultra illos montes – et monstravit digito montes – est fluvius non adeo magnus nomine Belina, cuius super ripam dinoscitur esse villa, nomineZtadici pozn.. Huius in territorio est novale unum in longitudine et inlatitudineXII passuum, quod mirum in modum, cum sit inter tot agros in medio positum, ad nullum tamen pertinet agrum. Ibi dux vester duobus variis bubus arat; unus bos precinctus est albedine et albo capite, alter a fronte post tergum albus et pedes posteriores habens albos. Nunc, si vobis placet, meum accipite thalitarium et clamidem ac mutatoria duce digna et pergite ac mandata populi atque mea referte viro et adducite vobis ducem et mihi maritum. Viro nomenestPrimizl, qui super colla et capita vestra iura excogitabit plura; nam hoc nomen latine sonat premeditans vel superexcogitans. Huius proles posterahac in omni terra in eternum regnabit et ultra pozn..

Capitulum sextum

Interea destinantur, qui iussa domne et plebis ad virum perferant nuncii; quos ut vidit domna quasi inscios de via cunctari: Quid, inquit,cunctamini? Ite securi, meum equum sequimini, ipse vos ducet recta via et reducetpozn., quia ab illo non semel illa via est trita.

Vana volat famapozn., nec non et opinio falsa, quod ipsa domna equitatu phantasmatico semper in noctis conticinio solita sit ire illo et redire pre gallicinio, quod Iudeus credat Apellapozn.. Quid tum? Procedunt nuncii sapienter indocti, vadunt scienter nesciipozn.vestigia sequentes equi. Iamque montes transierant, iam iamque appropinquabant ville, ad quam ibant, tum illlis puer unus obviam currit, quem interrogantes aiunt: Heus bone indolis puer, estne villa ista nomine Ztadici aut si, est in illa vir nomine Primizl? Ipsa est, inquit, quam queritis villa, et ecce vir Primizl prope in agro boves stimulat, ut quod agit cicius opus peragat. Ad quem nuncii accendentes inquiunt: Vir fortunate, dux nobis diis generate! pozn. Et, sicut mos est rustieis, non sufficit semel dixisse, sed inflata bucca ingeminant: Salve dux, salve, magna dignissime laude, Solve boves, muta vestes, ascende caballum!Et monstrant vestessternutantemquecaballum. Domna nostra Lubossa et plebs universa mandat, ut cito venias et tibi ac tuis nepotibus fatale regnum accipias. Omnia nostra et nos ipsi in tua manu sumuspozn., te ducem, te iudicem, te rectorem, te protectorem, te solum nobis in dominum eligimus. Ad quam vocem vir prudens, quasi futuroruminscius, substitit et stimulum, quem manu gestabat, in terram fixit et solvens boves: Ite illuc, unde venistis!dixit; qui statim cicius dicto ab oculis evanueruntpozn., et nusquam amplius comparuerunt. Corilus autem, quam humi fixit, tres altas propaginespozn. et, quod est mirabilius, cum follis et nucibus produxit. Viri autem ili videntes hec talia ita fieri stabant obstupefacti. Quos ille grata vice hospitum invitat ad prandium et de pera subere contexta excutit muscidum panem et formatici partem et ipsam peram in cespite pro mensa et super rude textum ponit et cetera. Interea dum prandium sumunt, dum aquam de anphora bibunt, due propagines sive virgulta duo aruerunt et ceciderunt, sed tercia multo alcius et lacius accrescebat. Unde hospitibus maior excrevit ammiratio cum timore. Et ille: Quid ammiramini? inquit. Sciatis, ex nostra progenie multos dominos nasci, sed unum semper dominari. Atqui si domna vestra non adeo de hac re festinaret, sed permodicum tempus currentia fata expectaret, ut pro me tam cito non mitteret, quot natos heriles natura proferret, tot dominos terra vestra haberet.

Capitulum septimum

Post hec indutus veste principali et calciatus calciamento regali acrem ascendit equum arator; tamen sue sortis non inmemor tollit secum suos coturnos ex omni parte subere consutos, quos fecit servari in posterum; et servantur Wissegrad in camera ducis usque hodie et in sempiternumpozn.. Factum est autem, dum per compendia viarumpozn. irent nec tamen adhuc illi nuncii ceu ad novicium dominum familiarius loqui auderent, sed sicut columbe, si quando aliqua peregrina ad eas accedit, inprimis eam pavescunt et mox in ipso volatu eam assuefaciunt et eam quasi propriam faciuntet diligunt; sic illi cum fabularentur equitantes et sermocinationibus iter adbreviarent ac iocando per scurilia verba laborem fallerent, unus, qui erat audacior et lingua promptior: O domine, dic, inquit,nobis, ad quid hos coturnos subere consutos et ad nihilum nisi utproiciantur aptos nos servare fecisti; non satis possumus admiraripozn.. Quibus ille: Ad hec , inquit, eos feci et faciam in evum servari, ut nostri posteri sciant, unde sint orti, et ut semper vivant pavidi et suspecti neu homines a Deo sibi commissospozn. iniuste opprimant per superbiam, quia facti sumus omnes equales per naturam. Nunc autem et mihi liceat vos vicissim percontari, utrum magis laudabile est de paupertate ad dignitatem provehi an de dignitate in paupertatem redigi? Nimirum respondebitis mihi, melius esse provehi ad gloriam quam redigi ad inopiam. Atqui sunt nonnuli parentela geniti ex nobili, sed post ad turpem inopiam redacti et miseri facti; cum suos parentespozn. gloriosos fuisse et potentes aliis predicant, haudignorant, quod semetipsos inde plus confundunt et deturpant, cum ipsi per suam hoc amiserunt ignaviam, quod illi habuerunt per industriam. Nam fortuna semper hanc ludit aleam sua rota, ut nunc hos erigat ad summa, nunc illos mergat in infima. Unde fit, ut dignitas terrena, que erat aliquando ad gloriam, amissa sit ad ignominiam. At vero paupertas per virtutem victa non se celat sub pelle lupina, sed victorem suum tollit ad sydera, quem olim secum traxerat ad inferapozn..

Capitulum octavum

Postea vero quam iter emensi fuerant et iam iamque prope ad urbem venerant, obviam eis domna stipata suis satellitibus accelerat et inter se consertis dextris cum magna leticia tecta subeunt, thoris discumbunt, Cerere et Bacho corpora reficiunt, cetera noctis spacia Veneri et Himineo indulgent. Hic vir, qui vere ex virtutis merito dicendus est virpozn., hanc efferam gentem legibus frenavit et indomitum populum imperio domuit et servituti, qua nunc premitur, subiugavit atque omnia iura, quibus hec terra utitur et regitur
, solus cum sola Lubossa dictavit.

Capitulum nonum

Inter hec primordia legum quandam die predicta domna phitone concicata presente viro suo Primizl et aliis senioribus populiastantibus sic est vaticinata: Urbem conspicio, fama que sydera tangetpozn. pozn., Est locus in silva, villa qui distat ab ista Terdenis stadiis, quem Wlitaua terminat undis. Hunc ex parte aquilonali valde munit valle profunda rivulus Bruznica; at australi ex latere latus mons nimis petrosus, qui a petris dicitur Petrin, supereminet loca. Loci autem mons curvatur in modum delphini, marini porci, tendens usque in predictum amnem. Ad quem cum perveneritis, invenietis hominem in media silva limen domus operantem. Et quia ad humile limen etiam magni domini se inclinant, ex eventu rei urbem, quam edificabitis, vocabitis Pragampozn.. Hac in urbe olim in futurum bine auree ascendent olivepozn. pozn., que cacumine suo usque adseptimum penetrabunt celumpozn. et per totum mundum signis et miraculis coruscabunt. Has in hostiis et muneribus colent et adorabunt omnes tribus terrepozn. Boemie et nationes relique. Una ex his vocabitur Maior Gloria, altera Exercitus Consolacio pozn. pozn..

Plura locutura erat, si non fugisset spiritus pestilens et prophetans a plasmate Dei. Continuo itur in antiquam silvampozn. et reperto dato signo in predicto loco urbem, tocius Boemie domnam, edificantPragam. Et quia ea tempestate virgines huius terre sine iugo pubescentes veluti Amazonespozn. militaria arma affectantes et sibi ductrices facientes pari modo uti tirones militabant, venacionibus per silvas viriliter insistebant, non eas viri, sed ipsemet sibi viros, quos et quando voluerunt, accipiebant et, sicut gens Scitica Plauci sivePicenatici pozn., vir et femina in habitu nullum discrimen habebant. Unde in tantum feminae excrevit audacia, ut in quadam rupe non longe a predicta urbe oppidum natura loci firmum sibi construerent, cui a virginali vocabulo inditum est nomen Devin pozn.. Quod videntes iuvenes contra eas nimio zelo indignantes multo plures insimul conglobati non longius quam unius bucine in altera rupe inter arbusta edificant urbem, quam moderni nuncupant Wissegrad, tunc autem ab arbustis traxerat nomen Hvrastenpozn. pozn.. Et quia sepe virgines sollertiores ad decipiendos iuvenes fiebant, sepe autem iuvenes virginibus fortiores existebant, modo bellum, modo pax inter eos agebatur. Et dum interposita pace pociuntur, placuit utrisque partibus, ut componerent cibis et potibus symbolum et per tres dies sine armis sollempnem insimul agerent ludum in constituto loco. Quid plura? Non aliter iuvenes cum puellis ineunt convivia, ac si lupi rapaces querentes edulia, ut intrarent ovilia. Primam diem epulis et nimiis potibus hilarem ducunt. Dumque volunt sedare sitim, sitis altera crevitpozn., Leticiamque suam iuvenes vix noctis ad horamdifferunt. Nox erat et celo fulgebat luna serenopozn., Inflans tunc lituum dedit unus eis ita signum dicens: Lusistis satis, edistis satis atque bibistispozn.; Surgite, vos rauco clamat Venus aurea sistropozn.. Moxque singulipozn. singulas rapuere puellas. Mane autem facto iam pacis inito pacto, sublatis Cerere et Bacho ex earum oppido murus Lemniaco vacuos indulgent Vulcano. Et ex illa tempestate post obitum principis Lubosse sunt mulieris nostrates virorum sub potestate.

Sed quoniam omnibus Ire quidem restat, Numa quo venit et Ancuspozn., Primizl iam plenus dierumpozn., postquam iura instituit legum, quemcoluitvivus ut deum, raptus est ad Cereris generumpozn.. Cui Nezamizl succcessit in regnum. Hunc ubi mors rapuit, Mnata principales obtinuit fasces. Quo decedente ab hac vitaVoyn suscepit rerum gubernacula. Huius post fatum Vnizlau rexit ducatum. Cuius vitam dum rumpunt Parce, Crezomizl locatur sedis in arce. Hoc sublato e medio Neclan ducatus potitur solio. Hic ubi vitadiscessit, Gostivit throno successitpozn.. Horum ugitur principum de vita eque et morte siletur, tum quia ventri et somno dediti, inculti et indocti assimilati sunt peccori, quibus profecto contra naturam corpus voluptati, anima fuit oneripozn.; tum quia non erat illo in tempore, qui stilo acta eorum commendaret memorie. Sed sileamus, de quibus siletur, et redeamus, unde paulo deviavimus.

This post will be the first of a series.I will try to digitize my very Art Nouveau/Jugendstil/Secession oriented library and share it with you.
First digitizedbook of the new Bibliophilia section is Die Träumenden Knaben, a poem written and illustrated by the Austrian artist Oskar Kokoschka. This version is a close copy of the original booklet printed in 1908.

What is here presented is really an outstanding Historic document. It is a reproduction of the famous Jugendstil devoted magazine Deutsche Kunst und Dekoration published in Darmstadt, reporting the Hungarian presence at the Turing World Exhibition in 1902. The text (in German language) reported the efforts due by the Hungarian artists to achieve a very National style and a characteristic Hungarian declination of Art Nouveau.

The reportage covers mainly the work and the researches of the Hungarian architect and interior designer Ede Wigand (who was also one of our favorite artist, as you can read on previous szecesszio.com articles)  and the outstanding applied art production:

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The colored and full of dynamic and curve lines of the Zsolnay pottery are, obviously, also present. Some of the pieces presented during the exhibition in the Hungarian pavilion were produced by the Pecs pottery factory, with slightly modifications, in the following years till the present time:

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Lajos Kozma (Kiskorpad, 1884 – Budapest, 1948) is one of the most interesting and original artist in the history of the Hungarian Szecesszio. He studied architecture in Budapest when in his own 20th, even if his interests were also in the illustration graphics, in furniture design and in buildings decoration. This one will be the first of a series of articles on this exceptional and maybe rather unknown artist, maybe one of the most interesting figure in the history of Hungarian Secesszio.

In this article the work of Kozma as book illustrator is presented. Eventually, the article contains a digitized version of Révész Béla’s Találkozás Hamupipőkével, one of the most important piece of art as far as the book illustration during the turn of the century period in Hungary.

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As for Bela Lajta and Karoly Kos, the mainstream interest for Kozma was the Hungarian national artistic tradition (Magyar nepvuveszet). He studied the popular art in the rural area of Kalotaszeg and influences from those studies are well evident in his graphical works as well as his decorations for some Lajta architected buildings. However popular art wasn’t the sole source of inspiration for Kozma. He was very acknowledged of the work of the Wiener Werkstaette (eventually himself tried to proceed in the foundation of an Hungarian Budapester Werkstaette which, however, never reached the level of the wiener counterpart). and in particular of the geometric style of Josef Hoffman and of Koloman Moser. Geometrism in a black and white graphic which inherited some influences from the English Arts and Crafts tradition (William Morris, as far as the complexity of the lines are concerned) and of the later British symbolism (Aubrey Beardsley). In the comments included in the presentation of the Találkozás Hamupipőkével illustrations themselves, some evidences of strong influences from symbolist visions of Gustav Klimt and Ferdnand Khnopff are also noticed.

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Here you can find an almost complete list of antiquarian bookstore here, in Budapest.

The very part of this list is due to the effort of the site http://www.szabadgondolkodo.hu/ismeretterjesztes/antikvariumok

However, I’ve geotagged those informations and now you can see the entire list displayed on a google map ! Just take care to point and click on the blue flag in order to obtain more information about one specific bookshop. Quite easy, isn’t it ?

As a consequence, the former link to antiquarian libraries on the right navbar promptly disappeared. In the near future I will take care to maintain the map and give directions in english. Stay, as ever, tuned !

CLICK to see the map !!

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The Nyugat magazine was one of the most influencing cultural, artistic and literary journal of the fin-de-siecle Hungary. Founded in 1908, Nyugat birth was consequence of the convergence of other previous three literary magazines, Magyar Géniusz, Virágfakadás and Figyelö. Illuminated by an engraving by the Hungarian artist Beck Ö Fülöp, the first number of Fygielö, eventually published in 1905, opened with an article by Osvát Ernö. In this article he described the cultural environment of Hungary as populated by an artistic production that was completely tradiotionalist, without any true revolutionary forces in a word, ruled by a renunciation attitude. In order the talented artist, let alone if writer, painters or poets, could express their peculiarities, the Fygielö magazine was conceived as a sort of a club, in which every member could freely reveal their own artistic ability.
After the experience of the Fifyelö magazine, the whole group of artists began to publish their intervention on Nyugat.

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First of all a service information: we are now reachable also using our hungarian domain, at the address http://www.secession.hu ! You haven’t more excuse not to keep in mind the not-so-english-compliant spelling of the hungarian word “szecesszio”. Just remember “secession” (very understandable in german and in english language) and paste the hungarian suffix “.hu”. that’s all folks !

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:

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

Dante Alighieri’s “Divina Commedia” is one of the (if not simply “the”) most famous piece of italian literature. According to wikipedia:

 

The Divine Comedy describes Dante’s journey through Hell (Inferno), Purgatory (Purgatorio), and Paradise (Paradiso), guided first by the Roman epic poet Virgil and then by Beatrice, the subject of his love and another of his works, La Vita Nuova. While the vision of Hell, the Inferno, is vivid for modern readers, the theological niceties presented in the other books require a certain amount of patience and knowledge to appreciate. Purgatorio, the most lyrical and human of the three, also has the most poets in it; Paradiso, the most heavily theological, has the most beautiful and ecstatic mystic passages in which Dante tries to describe what he confesses he is unable to convey (e.g., when Dante looks into the face of God: “all’alta fantasia qui mancò possa” – “at this high moment, ability failed my capacity to describe,” Paradiso, XXXIII, 142).

Dante wrote the Comedy in a new language he called “Italian”, based on the regional dialects of Tuscany, Sicilian and some elements of Latin and other regional dialects. By creating a poem of epic structure and philosophic purpose, he established that the Italian language was suitable for the highest sort of expression. In French, Italian is nicknamed la langue de Dante.

In this article I describe my own copy of a very special hungarian translation performed by the famous poet Mihaly Babits (author of works such as Leaves from the Garland of Iris [Levelek Irisz koszorújából], 1908; But Prince, if Winter Should Come [Herceg, hátha megjön a tél is], 1911; Recitativ,[Recitative] 1916; Island and Sea [Sziget és tenger], 1925; and In Race With the Years [Versenyt az esztendôkkel], 1928; The Book of Jonah [Jónás könyve] 1941) and illustrated by the hungarian secession artist Zádor István.

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It’s not really a style, strictly speaking, nor an artistic school or movement. It’s, perhaps, a philosophical more than artistic way to describe the obscure forces of an evil Nature, to use the symbolic element in order to let the spectator regard at the incubus and demonic vision of the author.

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One of the most influent artist who tried to give a representation of his demonic visions was the austrian Alfred Kubin. In the rest of this article you will able to find out a confrontation between some works of Kubin (mainly from my own copy of the famous album entitled ” Hans von Weber mappe” for the editor Spangmberg) and other works by hungarian artists such as Sazndor Nagy, Aladar Körösfői-Kriesch, Emil Sarkady, Lajos Gulacsy, Mednyánszky László.

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