In memoriam Mihály Szegedy-Maszák

Mihály Szegedy-Maszák, Regular Member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Professor of Central Eurasian Studies and Comparative Literature at Indiana University Bloomington, and a long-standing functionary of the ICLA, passed away on 24 July 2016 after a brief illness. He died peacefully, surrounded by his family. Mihály will be greatly missed.

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2 thoughts on “In memoriam Mihály Szegedy-Maszák”

  1. György C. Kálmán shares his thoughts after the death of his friend and colleague Mihály Szegedy-Maszák:

    Mihály Szegedy-Maszák, a great comparatist and expert in literary theory, comparative studies and Hungarian literature, passed away on 24 July 2016 in Budapest. Mihály was a great man of letters – an excellent scholar, a wonderful partner in discussions and debates, a kind personality and a fantastic teacher.

    It must have been his early interest in the international context of Hungarian literature and in literary theory that led him very soon to comparative studies. He was a member of the AILC/ICLA as of 1972, and had different functions in the Association from 1983. His official career in this field was absolutely well founded: not only did he publish extensively in various scholarly journals in English and French while actively participating in the congresses and committee workshops and meetings, but he also contributed to discussions, debates and talks, and his interesting, innovative and critical contributions were always warmly welcome. Besides, he was a charming social figure, always open to scholarly and personal dialogue, always helpful in relation both to students and to colleagues.

    Mihály seemed to know everything – he had a wide and deep knowledge not only of classical and contemporary world literature, but also a constant and intensive interest in music (he was an excellent pianist) and visual arts. He used his grandiose erudition with a natural ease, without any trace of pompousness. He was endowed with a continuous curiosity – he read (listened to, saw) everything new or interesting, he was open to whatever interesting or strange he could find. In his scholarly and personal communication, he made use of his vast knowledge with a crushing virtuosity, humor and amiability. He loved understatements, diplomatic and ironic formulations, which reflected his aversion to final truths and monologic dictums. While having a firm and clear system of values, he always relied on self-criticism, reservations and irony, always accepting and reflecting upon other positions and possible standpoints.

    The loss of Mihály Szegedy-Maszák is painful for the whole community of comparatists and literary theorists. But he will be remembered personally, by some of us, and through his works, by the new generations of scholars.

    György C. Kálmán

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  2. Péter Hajdu writes about the lasting mark his friend and colleague Mihály Szegedy-Maszák has left as a member of the ICLA:

    Mihály Szegedy-Maszák contributed immensely to the ICLA. He joined the association in 1972, and in 1983 he became a member of the Coordinating Committee, which is responsible for the prestigious book series “Comparative History of the Literatures in European Languages.” Between 1992–2001 he was Vice President and between 2001–2006 President of the Coordinating Committee. He was thus involved in the activities of the book series for twenty-two years, during which period sixteen volumes were published. He also contributed to a volume that appeared after the end of his presidency (Vol. III of History of the Literary Cultures of East-Central Europe).

    Between 1991–1997 he was a member of the Executive Council, and between 1997–2004 Vice President of the ICLA. In 2012 he became the President of the Hungarian national committee.

    Mihály will be greatly missed.
    Péter Hajdu

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