I love to explore a city learning about its writers.
Most of the Hungarian authors describe a unique relationship with Budapest. Budapest, from its side, shows a special attachment to them, in the shape of statues, plaques and street names (and, sometimes, drinks). Patriotic poet Sándor Petőfi is regarded as a national hero, so it makes sense that the local museum of Literature carries his name. Opened in 1954, Petőfi Literary Museum (PIM) is the evolution of an institute called “Petőfi House”, from which it inherited a rich collection of documents. The permanent exposition is dedicated to Petőfi and it’s a great way to understand the local mentality and pride, since the young Sándor played a leading role in 1848’s Revolution for the independence from the Habsburg Empire. Together with the ever-changing temporary expositions, a considerable heritage of objects, pictures, furniture and book, it helps even foreigners swim across Hungarian recent history and captures local habits and tastes.
Every time I spend some time there, I come out with a different thought about Hungarian literature. I remember that my first approach to it was hard. I found it too pessimist, soggy and very cerebral, then my horizons expanded and I discovered that there’s much more than melancholy in Hungarian novels.
PIM allows me to travel throughout local history with the eyes of those I consider its national heroes, the intellectuals. After a recent renovation, the Museum has pretty gardens, that were merged with Karoly Gardens, becoming one of the best places to sit and…read an Hungarian novel!