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Hiisi szarvasától a csodaszarvasig, a Kalevala magyar fordításai, P. Ildikó Varga

The Finnish epic Kalevala has been translated into Hungarian five times in the time span of over a century, as follows (in chronological order, mentioning the names of the authors): Ferdinánd Barna 1871, Béla Vikár 1909, Nagy Kálmán 1972, István Rácz 1976, and Imre Szente 1987. Fragments of the epic were translated by Antal Reguly, Pál Hunfalvy and István Fábián in the 19th century, as well as by Géza Képes and Domokos Varga in the 20th century. In my book I am going to deal only with the complete translations. The choice of my topic was mainly motivated by the absence in Hungarian Kalevala research and literature of studies focusing on the comparative study and analysis of the translations of the epic employing a translation studies framework.The aim of this book is to locate these Hungarian texts in the Hungarian literary polysystem through a comparative study of the five complete Hungarian translations, investigating these translations both linguistically and in their cultural historical context.The present analysis uses Itamar Even-Zohar’s polysystemic theory, further developed by Gideon Toury´s Descriptive Translation Studies, and by José Lambert and André Lefevere´s works as well.The two literary systems I am dealing with, the Hungarian and the Finnish, occupy a peripheric position in the (Western)European macrosystem, the main reason being the “isolation” of the two languages in (Western)Europe. Both are Finno-Ugric languages, and this fact leads further than the simple scheme of “two kindred languages”; in different ages it is the attitude towards each other based on the affinity of languages that determines the mode of the approach to translations.The analysis is based on the relations that may have influence on the reception of the translations: the context in which the source text and the target texts were born (the strategies followed by Lönnrot, the compiler/author and by the Hungarian translators in the creation of the texts) and the critics. This is followed by the comparative analysis of the source and target texts, examining the translators’ solutions regarding the form of the epic: rhythm, metre, schemes (alliteration, parallelism) and the translators’ interpretation of the text as regards the Kalevala as original myth, as well as the emphasis laid on the transmission of tradition from one generation to the other and on popular motives and features. I introduced the notion of a “Finno-Ugric network” as a main means of constructing an individual character.The network itself implies the existence of text systems (all texts written in a Finno-Ugric language) and of a conceptual grid (a tool of identification, it concentrates on similarities that may be necessary for its creation, as well on differences emphasizing those “alterities” that differentiate the Finno-Ugric network from the concepts determined by the Western network).The study revealed that the existence of the Finno-Ugric network was crucial in the reception of the first two Hungarian translations. The intentions of Ferdinánd Barna were to fill in the gap generated by the absence of a national epic from the Hungarian literary system, under the flag of Finno-Ugric affinity. He tried to show how a major Hungarian national epic could be created using poetic means borrowed from the Finnish epic. This attempt failed for several reasons. First, the cultural centre in Hungary at the end of the 19th century did not consider the epic poem to be an adequate genre for a major national epic work. Second, the translator was inconsequential by sustaining the conceptual grid only in the Notes-part of the edition and also having the idea to reconstruct a Finno-Ugric mythology. The second translator, Béla Vikár, saw the Kalevala as a genre pattern and as a starting point for tracking down a Finno-Ugric mythology that could serve as a basis for a conceptual grid, but without the idea of reconstructing this mythology.The success of Vikár’s translation in the 1930s and the following years was due to the joint effect of several factors. Vikár combined in his text archaistic language with a dialectical one and used a domesticating strategy regarding the formal solutions, translating or transcribing Finnish names into Hungarian and adapting the Kalevala-metre and rhythm to Hungarian accentual verse of 4/4 rhythm with end rhyme. With a sense for the literary politics of his age the translator chose Dezső Kosztolányi, a well-known poet in the centre of the literary system, to write an introductory essay for the 1935 edition of his translation at the time of the Finno-Ugric movement, where personal and semi-official Hungarian–Finnish relations turned into official relations. The cult towards the translator also had a key-role in the succes of the translation and in gaining a central position in the Hungarian polysytem.The situation started to change in the 50s along with the change of paradigm in translation studies. Instead of domestication the maintenance of the foreign sonority, for example through formal solutions, was considered acceptable. Archaistic and dialectical language was also criticized.The first re-translation, Kálmán Nagy’s, uses the common Hungarian idiom of the 70s. The translator’s person led to an ambivalent reception for this work. As a Romanian Hungarian he was unknown to critics in Hungary, and his early death, which preceded the publication of his work in the communist Romania, made his person and life stand in the centre of attention. His translation received only meagre critical response. Kálmán Nagy’s translation may be considered as centring on the source culture and also on the text by being loyal to the distinctive forms of the Finnish epic. He emphasized a distant attitude towards the text by preserving the foreign sonority, that is the Finnish orthography of names. He did not wish to borrow the genre as a pattern or to create some kind of a Finno-Ugric network. In his interpretation the Kalevala is the original history of the Finnish people, a product of the Finnish collective subconscious and of Lönnrot at the same time. The language used by the fourth translator of the Kalevala, István Rácz, is close to Nagy’s language. His methods had the aim of domesticating the source-text, following Vikár’s example in formal solutions, and he also translates or transcribes Finnish names into Hungarian.The last complete Hungarian Kalevala, Imre Szente’s translation, which was published twice during past decade in Hungary, may also be considered to be domesticated due to the fact that its vocabulary includes notions borrowed from the Hungarian cultural sphere. The textual analysis partly confutes this, since it proves the use of Finnish orthography (thereby the preservation of the foreign nature of the text) contrary to the domesticating intention.Vikár´s translation held its central position for decades, but was gradually peripheralized by the new re-translations. Even if in the hypothesis I stated that this position could only be taken by a text based on a totally different concept, after analysis I reached the conclusion that it was Rácz`s translation that has occupied this place. The reason why this may be the case is the employment of a translation strategy in many forms similar to Vikár’s, as well as the translator’s original view on poetics: the creation of a Hungarian Kalevala based on alliteration
Literary Form
non fiction
Physical Description
1 online resource (234 pages)
Specific Material Designation
Form Of Item


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