Attila Dósa

Muriel Spark’s Reception History in Hungary: From the Socialist Sixties to the Present

My paper focuses on the Hungarian reception history of Muriel Spark, with particular attention to the translation, publication, and criticism of her fiction from the early sixties to the present. First, I sketch the general direction of her criticism through a reading of reviews and articles published in the sixties, when her fiction received immediate and, not infrequently, insightful attention in socialist Hungary, largely thanks to the efforts of a handful of translators. Second, I point out the conceptual continuities in her critical reception that extended from the sixties to the seventies. Third, I lay out the possible reasons why Hungarian interest in her work waned after the mid-eighties, when the socialist regime gave way to the market economy. Finally, I suggest that although she aroused a brief and isolated academic interest in the early 2000s, she has not yet regained the reputation she enjoyed in the socialist sixties, when her fiction became popular in Hungary with little or no delay. For example, her masterpiece novel, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1961), was published belatedly in Hungarian translation in 2015 and has not received significant critical or public attention. I argue that some fallacies in her criticism from the 1960s, which persist to this day, are responsible for her failure to receive due recognition in the contemporary Hungarian context.

Attila Dósa, University of Miskolc, Hungary