Nyelv, rendszerváltás és személyes élet: Édes Anna, Édes Emma

  • Susan Rubin Suleiman Harvard University
  • Anett Schäffer Miskolci Egyetem Irodalomtudományi Doktori Iskola


Language, Regime Change, and Individual Life: Édes Anna, Édes Emma

“In our age, there is no such thing as ‘keeping out of politics.’ All issues are political issues,” wrote George Orwell in his famous essay on “Politics and the English Language.” How is a change in political regime manifested in language, and how does that affect individual lives? I explore this question by examining Dezső Kosztolányi’s novel Édes Anna (1926), which focuses on the period immediately following the downfall of the Béla Kun regime in 1919, and István Szabó’s film Édes Emma, drága Böbe (1991), which takes place after the end of the Kádár regime, in 1990. Both works show how individual lives are imbricated in collective history and in language. They both ask, implicitly: What constitutes a community, a safe space for human development, in a time of sudden historical change when everyone feels vulnerable and seeks to act only for their own preservation? Szabó stated in an interview after his film’s release: “In my lifetime, there have been six or seven changes in regime which fundamentally transformed society […]. Things change very quickly in this country. Here we‘ve always had to start over with learning things, there are frequent windstorms, and it’s very hard for people to stand on their feet.”