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390 LETTERS IN CANADA 1997 its fiction, its film and art. The heroes of Teleky's book include some of Hungary's more noteworthy citizens and some of its immigrants to North America, and also some who are less noteworthy. For example, Teleky praises Peter Esterhazy for his fine elliptical fiction as intelligently as he defines Hungarian kitsch; he applauds ZsaZsa Gabor and other Hollywood Hungarians; he extols the Hungarian miracle food, paprika; and he documents the influence of Hungary on contemporary television when he mentions Jessica Fletcher, the wily hero of the drama, Murder She Wrote, who in one episode becomes an expert on the Hungary which produced vampires. Although there is a well-paced humour in this tenderly written book, there is also a wise man's longing for a place and a tradition which, until now, has been dispersed by war, politics and other modern tragedies which, because of his own family's immigration, remain at some distance from him. Yet, Teleky shares this longing with some of his heroes: heroes as varied as the soulful photographer, Andre Kertesz, or as practical as the owner of Pannonia Books on Bloor Street in Toronto, Kate (not Kati or Katya) Karacsony (whose face reminds him of the young Vivien Leigh). To read Hungarian Rhapsodies is to learn and enjoy and want more. Teleky ends the book wistfully: 'I wish I could say that my Hungarian studies have made me feel less dissatisfied with my own culture, able to forgive it for some of the details of its own particular and insistent way of being arbitrary. But I can't.' While valuing all that remains with him of Hnngarianness Teleky is also all too aware that truths and conventions which are regarded as 'eternal' are illusory and arbitrary, and need tobe remembered as such. Although Teleky's grandmother, Mari Poczik Takacs- to whom the book is dedicated- never returned to her birthplace, the village of Pali in northwestern Hungary, Teleky reminds himself (and us) that'she didn't put Hungary behind her.' And Teleky remembers that throughout his childhood it is Mari's wound, 'the immigrant wound,' he 'sensed' without fully knowing 'what it was.' Without bemoaning his state, Teleky improvises on his grandmother's loss, a loss that becomes his, a loss that wisely and tentatively grips him, and pushes him into writing Hnngarian rhapsodies rather than tirades or moonlight sonatas. (MARLENE KADAR) Tom Henighan. The Presumption ofCulture: Structure, Strategy and Sllrvival in the Canadian Cultural Landscape Raincoast Books 1996. x, 176. $15.95 So the pendulum keeps swinging in the ongoing cultural wars; as the more extreme exponents of the phenomenon known as political correctness fade in the latter half of the decade, members of the opposing camp obviously feel that it's safe to come out of hiding and make a few tentative rhetorical HUMANITIES 391 attempts to prop up the tattered tenets the enemy has spent the last fifteen or so years tearing apart. ThusJ we have Tom HenighanJs The Presumption of Culture, a book of essays which might well be subtitled, 'oK, Now That We've Got That Out of Our Systems ...' Henighan attempts here to perform both diagnostic and prescriptive functions for an embattled Canadian culture, meaning that to accept the latterJ we must first concur with the former. And that- despite the fact that Henighan makes many eminently reasonable observations- is where this reviewer hits the wall. For, in his rush to lead us away from all the false idols of the fin-de-millennium's politically correct and mass media cultures, Henighan all too easily falls back on the old modernist notion of (High) Art as The Solution For All Societal Ills. Even worse, he seems to feel it is the role of government to facilitate the creation of such an all-encompassing cultural balm (although, as an enlightened liberal, Henighan also constantly stresses the need for fiscal responsiblity). In the name of Truth and Beauty,for instance, Henighan recommends creating something called 'Theatre Night in Canada' as 'a high-culture riposte to Hockey Night In Canada,' presumably with Pierre Berton filling the role of Don Cherry. The absurdity of such notions...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 390-392
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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