The Fortunes of Hungarian Children’s Literature at Home and in the English-Speaking World


  • Anna Bentley



Hungarian children’s literature, fairy tales, Meseország mindenkié, English translation, publishers, book-shredding, National Curriculum, Móra Könyvkiadó, Pozsonyi Pagony, Bologna Children’s Book Fair, Petőfi Literary Fund


This paper asks why so few works of Hungarian children’s literature have made it to publication in English-speaking countries. It finds that few translated children’s books make it onto the English-language market and those translations that are successful mainly appear in major European languages. Representation at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair has been dogged by a lack of financial resources and polish while Hungarian State funding has lacked continuity. Nearly all the English translations of Hungarian children’s books available today have been published in Hungary, although a book will occasionally find its way to foreign publishers by informal means. This paper also follows the development of Hungarian children’s literature from the late nineteenth century to the present day, noting changes in terms of character, subject matter and attitudes to diversity and use of the fairy-tale tradition. It outlines one recent controversy surrounding the publication of Meseország mindenkié [’Storyland for Everybody’], a book which aims, in contrast to the current regime’s ideology, to represent the marginalized in Hungarian society. It also details recent clashes sparked by the new Hungarian National School Curriculum and one writer’s feminist critique of a classic text.






Thematic Cluster: English Translations from Hungarian: Expanding Genres, Deepening Approaches. Guest Ed: Peter Sherwood