East European Communities: The Struggle for Balance in Turbulent Times

By David A. Kideckel | Go to book overview

Notes

Antal Vermes is a pseudonym for a villager I have known since 1976. However, thedata for this chapter were mostly collected in short annual fieldtrips in the period 1990. 1993. An earlier version was read at a seminar at the London School of Economics in November 1993. I am also grateful for comments and advice to Mihaly Sarkany, Nigel Swain, and Katalin Kovacs.

1.
This party had been the single largest party in the country in the 1940s, before being squeezed off the political stage following the infamous communist 'salami tactics'. For details of the reemergence of this party and its precipitous disintegration a few years later see Swain 1993a. In Tázlár the same informant who remembered the election jingle about Ferenc Erdei could also supply one for this party: Ha Magyar vagy, nem sravazhaw masra, / Csak a Fuggetlen Kisgazda Partra! ('If you are a Hungarian you cannot vote for anyone else, / Only the Independent Smallholders' Party!')
2.
See Kulcsar 1988 for a full and very positive evaluation of Erdei's work. The Budapest sociologist Tibor Huszar has also published valuable analyses, particularly of Erdei's formative years; for the most recent see Huszar 1991. Huszar has also edited a selection of Erdei's writings in English translation, to which he has added a concluding chapter that focuses on Erdei's contributions to Hungarian sociology: see Huszar 1988. A useful outline sketch of Erdei's life is provided by his brother Sandor Erdei ( 1972).
3.
Published at the rate of one per year: Hungarian Town ( 1939), Hungarian Village ( 1940), Hungarian Peasant Society ( 1941), Hungarian Tanyas ( 1942). There is also an important manuscript from this period dealing with the structure of Hungarian society in the inter-war period which was not published during Erdei's lifetime; it can be found in Kulcsar 1980, and in English translation in Huszar 1988, pp. 7-93. I am grateful to Laszlo Peter (personal communication) for pointing out to me Erdei's great debt in this work to the historian Istvan Hajnal.
4.
See Swain 1992 for an English-language presentation of this, perhaps the best synthetic work in Erdei's oeuvre. Fragments can also be read in English translation in Huszar 1988, pp. 155-208.
5.
In their commitment to writing that would constitute good literature as well as good sociology/sociography (on this distinction in the Hungarian context see Hann 1987) Erdei and some of his contemporaries offer interesting parallels to the recent literary turn in some so-called post-modern Western social science, including social anthropology.
6.
Erdei 1957 ( 1937): 174. Tázlár was called officially Pronayfalva between 1906 and 1947, when the name was changed back to Tázlár. The reasons for the change are obscure, but Baron Pronay was apparently a nobleman from whom the earlier settlers hoped for some patronage. There is no evidence of his ever even visiting the community, let alone favoring it with aristocratic largesse, and there have been no serious suggestions in recent years that the village should revert to the pre-1947 name. This pattern of dispersed settlement was rather different from the pattern which concerned Erdei most throughout his life, and which he believed to be more characteristic of the Great Plain. This was the pattern not of village networks but of market towns surrounded by a large hinterland of scattered farms or tanyas. Erdei argued consistently that distorted capitalist development had unhinged the proper social links between town and countryside: these needed to be restored for rural poverty and other problems to be overcome.

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