18th-century Section


The history of the 18th-century Section

The 18th-century Research Group (later 18th-century Section) was established in 1970, with József Szauder at the helm. He stayed head of the section until 1972, then Lajos Hopp headed the section from 1973 until his death in 1996. He was followed by György Kókay. Gábor Tüskés has been head of the section since 2000.

The main goal of the program for research, textology, and the management of science is to uncover the literary heritage of the century, to evaluate it and integrate it into an international context, with special emphasis on the precursors of the Enlightenment, its processes of cultural history, and its European context. One of the top goals of the section is to present the European values and networks of eighteenth-century Hungarian literature with the help of philology, literary studies, and digital humanities. An important goal is to explore the principles and traditions behind the works, as well as the influences and interrelationships shaping ideals and taste. The research projects include the back story of literary studies, and they focus on uncovering the self-reflection of literature and the phenomena of literary criticism. They use the methods of the sociology of literature and the history of reception, analyse the relationship between writer and audience, and they use the paradigm of literature as a system of instruments and institutions.

The section’s activities center around text and source publication, the history of science, the history of genre, and intellectual history, as well as comparative studies. Between 1964–1988 the entire critical edition of Kelemen Mikes was published in six volumes, and the electronic version of the entire main text of the critical edition and the notes to the first volume has been completed. The critical edition of the complete oeuvre of György Bessenyei has been completed. Four volumes of the critical edition of the works of Francis II Rákóczi, prepared in collaboration with historians, were published between 1978–1997. The fifth volume is under preparation. The publication of the sources of seventeenth and eighteenth-century scholastic theatre has begun and made great headway in A magyarországi iskolai színjátszás forrásai és irodalma (The Sources and Literature of Scholastic Acting in Hungary) and the series Régi Magyar Drámai Emlékek XVIII. század (Old Hungarian Dramatic Memories 18th Century). The source publication Latin nyelvű protestáns iskoladrámák a XVII–XVIII. századból (Protestant Scholastic Dramas in Latin from the 17th and 18th Centuries/Ludi scaenici linguae latinae protestantum in Hungaria e saeculo XVII–XVIII) was published in 2005. The eighteenth-century Hungarian translation of Francesco Petrarca’s treatise De remediis utriusque fortune was published in 2015. Until 2018, 16 volumes of the series Régi Magyar Költők Tára (Corpus of Early Hungarian Poetry 18th Century) were published. One outcome of the research on the history of science is the bibliography Irodalomtörténet-írás a XVIII. században (Literary History Writing in the 18th Century), also available online, as well as the collection of essays Historia litteraria a XVIII. században (Historia Litteraria in the 18th Century) (2006). A significant collaborative undertaking of the past decade has involved the two volumes of the source publication Magyarországi gondolkodók XVIII. század, Bölcsészettudományok (Hungarian Thinkers, 18th century, Humanities) (2010, 2015) in the series Magyar remekírók (Hungarian Classic Authors).

Between 1994 and 2013 a total of nine research projects funded by OTKA grants were housed in the section, on the European connections of narrative literature, emblematics, the correspondence and shorter works of Francis II Rákóczi, the history of Hungarian literary studies and criticism between 1701 and 1772, the genres of ecclesiastic literature, the oeuvre of György Kalmár, the oeuvre of Kelemen Mikes, and the genres of popular poetry. Since 2017, a Lendület (Momentum) grant is in progress to explore the Western Hungarian literary public sphere between 1770 and 1820.

Bolyai János Research Scholarships of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences: Béla Hegedüs Ismeretelmélet és érzékenység. Az érzékenység fogalmának jelentésváltozásai a 18. századi magyar irodalomban (Epistemology and sensitivity. Changes in the meaning of sensitivity in 18th-century Hungarian literature) (2012–2015); István Csörsz Rumen: monograph on popular poetry (2009–2012) and research on chapbooks: editing an anthology and a short monograph on the topic (2013–2016). Réka Lengyel A 18. századi magyarországi fikciós és tudományos-ismeretterjesztő fordításirodalom filológiai és eszmetörténeti vizsgálata (A philological and intellectual history analysis of 18th-century Hungarian translation literature of fiction and scientific-educational literature) (2016–2019).

The head of the section coordinates the work of the boards of trustees for the Tarnai award, the Faludi award, and the Lajos Hopp award. Prominent among past international conferences are the sessions on the Enlightenment held in Mátrafüred in the 1970s and 1980s, the materials of which were published in the six volumes of La Lumière en Hongrie, en Europe Centrale et en Europe Orientale between 1971–1987. The collection of studies Les Lumières en Pologne et en Hongrie (1988) is the product of the cooperation between the section and the Institute of Literary Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences. The international conferences of the last ten years include:

Literaturtransfer und Interkulturalität im Exil: Das Werk von Kelemen Mikes im Kontext der europäischen Aufklärung (2011); Nunquam autores, semper interpretes – A magyarországi fordításirodalom a 18. században [Eighteenth-Century Hungarian Translations] (2014); Számítógép az irodalomtudományban [The Computer and Literary Studies] (2015); Római költők a 18–19. századi magyarországi irodalomban – Vergilius, Horatius, Ovidius [Roman Poets in the Hungarian Literature of the 18th and 19th Century – Virgil, Horace, Ovid] (2016); Aufgeklärte Sozietäten, Literatur und Wissenschaft in Mitteleuropa (2017); Sajtó és irodalom a többnyelvű Magyarországon (1770–1820) [Media and Literature in Multilingual Hungary (1770–1820)] (2018); The Culture of the Aristocracy in the Habsburg Monarchy, 1750–1820 (2019); Ungarn als Gegenstand und Problem der fiktionalen Literatur (ca. 1550–2000) (2019).

The section maintains close connections with the academic workshops focusing on the literature of the century. Its activities are characterized by analysis based on independent basic research and uncovering original sources; the consistent use of the comparative approach and the principle of interdisciplinarity; elucidating lesser-known fields with the help of new methods; continuous publication of results in international scientific forums; and involving external contributors in the process of uncovering, processing, and publishing sources. The section, together with the accompanying working group and Magyar XVIII. Századi Társaság (Hungarian Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies) organizes monthly debate sessions, and arranges book launches twice a year and scientific conferences every two to three years. 




Research projects

  1. Textology

Francis II Rákóczi’s Confessio peccatoris is a critical edition of his eighteenth-century French translations. The publication of the French translations was prepared by the working group operating beside the section, in cooperation with the editors of the Latin text. The digital copies were purchased in 2015 and 2016. The complete manuscript of the critical edition was completed in spring 2019. The volume will be published in 2019 by the Honoré Champion publishing house in Paris. The research is supervised by Gábor Tüskés.

Gábor Tüskés, Éva Knapp,La bibliothèque de Rodostó (Tekirdağ, Turquie) du Prince François II Rákóczi. Nouvel essai de reconstitution”, Wolfenbütteler Notizen zur Buchgeschichte 39, 2 (2014) 185–208.

Gábor Tüskés, “Psychomachie d’un prince chrétien: au carrefour des genres autobiographique et religieux: François II Rákóczi: Confessio peccatoris. I–II”, Chroniques de Port-Royal 66 (2016) 401–426, 67 (2017), 323–341.

Gábor Tüskés, “Schuld und Sühne in der Confessio peccatoris von Fürst Ferenc Rákóczi II.”, Simpliciana 38 (2016) 379–414.

The eighteenth-century popular poetry series Régi Magyar Költők Tára (Corpus of Early Hungarian Poetry 18th Century) publishes anonymous texts the first version of which appeared in manuscripts or print between 1700 and 1800. Four volumes have been published so far, with almost 6,000 versions of approx. 1,000 text families (between 1700 and the 1840s), alongside their contemporary tunes: 1. Mulattatók (Comic Poetry); 2. Társasági és lakodalmi költészet (Social and Wedding Poetry); 3/A–B. A társadalmi élet költészete (Social Poetry) (http://real.mtak.hu/7608/1/RMKT_K%C3%B6zk%C3%B6lt%C3%A9szet%203-A_v%C3%A1gott.pdf, http://real.mtak.hu/25024/1/RMKT_XVIII_Kozkolteszet_3B.pdf).

At present, additional texts are being verified, sources and variants discovered later are added, and notes are being finalized. Editorial work on the volume will be completed by the end of 2019. The research is supervised by István Csörsz Rumen.

Rumen István Csörsz, “Die Sprache der Fremden in der ungarischen populären Dichtung des 18.-19. Jahrhunderts”, in Mehrsprachigkeit in Zentraleuropa: Zur Geschichte einer literarischen und kulturellen Chance, Hg. András F. Balogh, Christoph Leitgeb, 91–104 (Wien: Praesens Verlag, 2012).

Rumen István Csörsz, “Slovakian-Hungarian Interferences in 18–19th Century Popular Poetry: Tunes, Metrical Forms, Texts”. In Ethnic Mobility in Ballads: Proceedings of the 44th International Ballad Conference of the Kommission für Volksdichtung, edited by Andrew C. Rouse [epub] (Pécs: SPECHEL – Angol és Magyar Kulturális Egyesület, 2017).

The critical edition of György Kalmár’s works will be completed in 2019.  His works, written in several different languages, are difficult to access, with their understanding, or indeed their reading, also made more difficult by his own notation system. This presents major philological and textological challenges for the preparation of the critical editions. The research is supervised by Béla Hegedüs.

A digital edition of the translation literature of eighteenth-century Hungarian fiction and scientific-educational texts. The exploration of the volumes containing eighteenth-century Hungarian translations was completed by September 2019, and approx. 38 sheets of verified literal transcription have been completed of approx. 100 translations of fiction and scientific-educational texts. The transcriptions will be available from January 2020 in the database for eighteenth-century Hungarian translations (http://maford18szazad.hu/). The research is supervised by Réka Lengyel.

  1. Mikes dictionary

The Mikes dictionary is a 1.5 million-word dictionary processing the Mikes oeuvre, and the first electronic complete author’s dictionary. At present the dictionary contains approx. 16,000 entries. After finalizing the editorial principles, the online image of the dictionary and the interface enabling multi-criteria search have also been created. The first version of the processed material is available at http://mikesszotar.iti.mta.hu, and the database is continuously extended. The dictionary has become the basis of research on literary history and the history of grammar, resulting in state-of-the-art, paradigm-shifting results in basic research. The project has been included in university education. The research is supervised by Margit Kiss and Gábor Tüskés.

Margit Kiss, “The Digital Mikes-Dictionary” In eds. Tüskés, Gábor; Bernard, Adams, Literaturtransfer und Interkultralität im Exil…  (Bern, Switzerland: Peter Lang Verlag, 2012) 288-297.

  1. Mikes database

Work on the Mikes database started in 2015, linking the main text and the annotations of the critical edition of Leveleskönyv (Epistolae familiares) with the dictionary’s vocabulary. A database based on these different types of texts is under construction, to include data available from further, external data sources that can be analysed beyond the authorial texts. The TEI XML coding of the main and critical texts has been completed, as well as the complete dictionary material (currently being copy-edited), the unified linked storage system of the texts, and the first demo version [GitHub link]. The project is run with the cooperation of the professors and students of the Department of Measurement and Information Systems of the Budapest University of Technology and Economics (BME). Supervisor of the research in the Institute: Margit Kiss.

On the results and methodology of the research so far:

Tamás Mészáros and Margit Kiss, “The DHmine Dictionary Work-flow: Creating a Knowledge-based Author's Dictionary”, In Proceedings of the XVII EURALEX International Congress, 2018.

 Tamás Mészáros and Margit Kiss, “Knowledge Acquisition from Critical Annotations”, Information 9, 7 (2018) 1-10.

  1. Popular poetry, chapbook literature

One important yet still mostly unexplored layer of eighteenth-century Hungarian literature is the secular song and poetry material that was disseminated in manuscripts and popular prints. Preparation of the critical edition of this group of sources is ongoing, and the Doromb series publishing studies on the subject of popular poetry is published annually. Two monographs and several studies have been published on this topic. Recent results of the research on chapbooks include the first volume of a series functioning as an anthology of chapbooks (http://reciti.hu/2018/4672) , and a planned short monograph. Within the Lendület (Momentum) research group an online database was launched in 2018 to process early modern popular prints, which makes detailed thematic description and parallel data management possible: http://ponyva-lendulet.iti.btk.mta.hu/menu.php The research is supervised by István Csörsz Rumen.

Csörsz Rumen István, Mikos Éva, “Cheap Print in Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Hungary”. In Cheap Print and the People: European Perspectives on Popular Literature, eds. David Atkinson and Steve Roud, 274–306 (Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2019).

  1. Language theory

Research on the early phase of Hungarian literature in terms of language theory has been conducted since 2006, which is closely linked to understanding the great modern turn in epistemology and language theory. More than twenty Hungarian and foreign-language studies have been published on the results so far. A short monograph is being prepared to summarize the research. The research is supervised by Béla Hegedüs.

Béla Hegedüs, “Literary History as an Argument for the Existence of Literature: Miklós Révai’s Call in Magyar Hírmondó and Költeményes Magyar Gyűjtemény”. In Media and Literature in Multilingual Hungary 1770–1820, edited by Ágnes Dóbék, Gábor Mészáros, and Gábor Vaderna, 165–179. Reciti Konferenciakötetek 3. Budapest: reciti, 2019. http://reciti.hu/wp-content/uploads/11_Hegedus.pdf.

Béla Hegedüs, “Was bedeutet Wissenschaft und Literatur für eine gelehrte Gesellschaft? Wissenschafts- und Literaturtheorie in Preßburg im 18. Jahrhundert”. In Aufgeklärte Sozietäten, Literatur und Wissenschaft in Mitteleuropa, edited by Dieter Breuer and Gábor Tüskés, 206--214. Frühe Neuzeit 229. Berlin/Boston: De Gruyter, 2019.

  1. Translation

Analysis of the eighteenth-century Hungarian translation literature of fiction and scientific-educational literature in terms of philology and intellectual history has been conducted since 2016. Between 2016 and 2019 the research was supported by the János Bolyai Research Fellowship Grant and the NKFIH PD 121063 scholarship of the Postdoctoral Excellence Program. Based on the relevant reference bibliographies and library data collection, a complete bibliography of the translations published during the eighteenth century was completed in 2019, as well as the bibliography of eighteenth-century Hungarian translation literature. Based on the bibliographies a database was launched in 2019, available at http://maford18szazad.hu/ The research is supervised by Réka Lengyel.

On the results of the research so far:

Réka Lengyel, “Rediscovered Treasures: The Library of Farkas Széll (Knihovna Kubelíkova-Széllova) Available on Google Books / Poklady znovu objevné: Farkas Széllova Knihovna (Knihovna Kubelíkova-Széllova) k dispozici na Google Books”, In Libraries V4 in the Decoy of Digital Age – Knihovny zemí V4 nástráhách digitalního věku (Brno, Moravská zemská knihovna, 2016) 143–155.

Réka Lengyel, “The Sources of Ferenc Verseghy’s Handbook of Aesthetics (Usus aestheticus linguae hungaricae, 1817)” In Hrsg. von P. Balogh; G. Fórizs Anthropologische Ästhetik in Mitteleuropa 1750−1850 – Anthropological Aesthetics in Central Europe 1750−1850 (Hannover, Wehrhahn Verlag, 2018, Bochumer Quellen und Forschungen zum achtzehnten Jahrhundert, 9) 211–224. 


Special projects

Lendület (Momentum), Literary Culture in Western Hungary, 1770–1820

The Lendület (Momentum) research group Literary Culture in Western Hungary, 1770–1820 was started in 2017, supervised by István Csörsz Rumen (https://iti.btk.mta.hu/hu/lendulet/nymi1770-1820/magunkrol/bemutatkozas). Its main goal is to uncover and analyze the documents of cooperation among enlightenment-era writers, scholars, and intellectuals either coming from Transdanubia or living there, especially contemporary media, the publication of books and chapbooks, and the reading culture of aristocrats and commoners. International conferences: Sajtó és irodalom a többnyelvű Magyarországon (1770–1820) – Media and Literature in Multilingual Hungary (1770–1820), (2018); The Culture of the Aristocracy in the Habsburg Monarchy, 1750–1820 (2019)



Series of publications

Régi Magyar Költők Tára (Corpus of Early Hungarian Poetry, 18th century)


The eighteenth-century volumes of the Corpus of Early Hungarian Poetry [RMKT] publish complete oeuvres of poets. In some cases a critical edition has been prepared for particularly prominent volumes. The third type of volume in the series are source anthologies. So far four volumes have been published in the Popular poetry subseries (see the entry on Research projects in progress)

Doromb. Studies on popular poetry


The series publishing studies on popular poetry has been published since 2012, edited by István Csörsz Rumen and published by Reciti; the series is available free of charge. The seventh volume will be published in 2019, with support from the Lendület (Momentum) Research group Literary Culture in Western Hungary, 1770–1820 at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. It includes a group of international studies, and topics from the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries regarding Hungarian historical folklore studies, primarily with ties to Transdanubia.


The ReTextum series [http://reciti.hu/category/reciti-konyv/retextum], published by Reciti, prints previously unpublished text sources. According to the concept, the critical republication of a text or its first publication does not imply an ideal, final text version: the texts published in the series should also be considered text variants themselves. Since the launch of the series in 2013, eight volumes have been published, which are accessible free of charge through the publisher’s website. 

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