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Endre Bojtár (1940 - 2018) - Biography

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I wrote about Hrabal, Kundera and Havel, I translated their works, I gradually subscribed to their intellectuality and thus I became more and more opponent to the political regime.

Endre Bojtár, literary historian and translator, was born on May 26, 1940 in Budapest. He graduated in Kölcsey Secondary School and then he studied Russian and Czech literature and language at the Faculty of Arts of Loránd Eötvös University where he got his university degree in 1963. As research fellow of the Institute for Literary Studies of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences he focused on the vanguard literatures and on the comparative study of the Eastern European literatures as well as on the theory of literature. He translated Polish, Czech and Lithuanian literature into Hungarian. It was him who introduced the works of the contemporary Czech writers (Bohumil Hrabal, Václav Havel, Ladislav Fuks, Milan Kundera etc.) to the Hungarian readers being a reviewer of the Európa, Móra, Magvető and Zrínyi Publishing Houses as well as of the Hungarian Radio. In 1964 he translated from Czech into Hungarian Havel's first play „The Garden Party". He edited several anthologies of East Central European contemporary literature. From 1968 to 1969 he participated in the foundation and in the editing of the paper Eszmélet (Consciousness) which was later abolished. He was put on publication ban because of his ideas, research activity and publications for five years after the resolution of the Working Committee on Cultural Policy of the Hungarian Socialist Workers' Party named him among the so called deviants. His papers published abroad however made him known in international literary circles. He took part in the editing of the samizdat periodical Máshonnan Beszélő (Speaking from Elsewhere). Between 1977 and 1980 he lectured literary history of Central and Eastern European literature at Attila József University in Szeged. In 1979 he was progged in the party for having signed the protest of solidarity with the participants of the Charta movement. He was among the authours of the István Bibó Memorial Book for which he received a party punishment. In 1986 he was nominated head of department of the Department of Central and Eastern European Literatures of the Institute for Literary Studies. He is an expert in Baltic languages and literatures, founding father of the Baltic studies in Hungary. In 1985-86 he got a Soros scholarship and he spent four months in Los Angeles. The Soros foundation asked him to organize courses on comparative Eastern European literary studies from 1989 to 1991 in Dubrovnik which gave the idea of founding the Central European University. He has been one of the editors of the literary periodical 2000 since 1989. He is a Doctor of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences since 1999.

Awards: Medal of Gediminas (Lithuania, 1994), Officer Grade of the Order of Merit of the  Hungarian Republic (1998), Attila József Award (2006), Széchenyi Award (2010).


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