The Philosophy of Heroic Civility in G. Ottlik’s Novel Buda

Ferenc Hörcher (Pázmány Péter Catholic University, Hungary)


This paper deals with a novel by the 20th century Hungarian author, Géza Ottlik entitled Buda. It takes this work as an example of the way cities get fictionalised in contemporary fiction. The novel presents interconnected stories (personal memories, historical episodes and urban legends) all linked to the author’s birthplace, Buda, Hungary, narrated by a quasi-autobiographical voice. The fundamental claim of the paper is that civility and heroism (two, seemingly contradictory values) are both extremely important values in the self-perception of the writer’s alter ego. Through his rebellious kind of civility Ottlik’s self-referential hero, BB is able to counterbalance the historical drama of World War II. In this fictional world, both the author and his hero rebels against overheated and passion ridden politics, preserving the tone and overtone of an urbane and civil Hungary. The paper recalls some of the key episodes in this respect (like when his hero is caught between the two parties of the war), as well as analysing its ironic tone and some of its further key concepts, including friendship, elegance and civil manners. It presents the author and his self-referential fictional hero as mirroring each other, this way establishing (self-fashioning) the legendary figure of Ottlik in post-war Hungary, the paradigm “burgher” of Hungarian civil society.

Article in: English

Article published: 2017-12-27

Keyword(s): civility; elegance; friendship; heroism; Hungarian civil society; self-referential novel; urbanity; World War II.

DOI: 10.3846/cpc.2017.285

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Coactivity: Philosophy, Communication / Santalka: Filosofija, Komunikacija ISSN 2029-6320, eISSN 2029-6339
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