Dr. Flóra Kozmutza, wife of Gyula Illyés was born 110 years

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2015/09/01 - 2015/11/28

On September 1, 2015, at 3 p.m. an exhibition entitled Because you are sitting opposite to me … will be opened on Floor 7 of National Széchényi Library. The exhibition is going to give an insight into the life of Dr. Flóra Kozmutza, wife of Gyula Illyés who was born 110 years ago.

In addition to original materials borrowed from the Library’s general and manuscript collections, the exhibition will also feature never before published documents originating from family legacy or given by the Special Education College of Budapest. It will present the magnanimous personality of the psychologist who died twenty years ago and whose private life was full of passionate willingness to help others. Flóra’s altruistic logic explains why she, who had attended the Arts Faculty, finally chose special education as her profession and vocation, why she was called, together with István Benedek, “Szondi’s page” by her fellow colleagues, and what kind of role the saying attributed to French philosopher Guyau – “suffers so I love her” – played in Flóra’s becoming a muse.

Our exhibition will present the last love letters written by Attila József to Flóra Kozmutza and a letter of sentiments written by Gyula Illyés to his wife. This letter inspired the title of our exhibition: Because you are sitting opposite to me … From the diary of the poet we get to know why he could not include his wife’s name into his poems and whether, during their marriage lasting over four decades, he would make an exception or not.

The autograph manuscript of Könnyező (Weeping), a poem of heart-breaking beauty by Gyula Illyés plays a central role at the exhibition. This poem is about the last visit that Illyés paid to Attila József, who stayed in Siesta nursing home.

We can see an original photograph taken of Attila József, and the surface above the show case focusing on Attila József is decorated with a copy of works by artist Melánia Domby-Szántó.

It is not widely known that Flóra Kozmutza was the first female professor working for the Special Education College of Budapest. As of 1973, she served as director of the institution and she was also the founder of the new building complex in Damjanich Street. The exhibition shows her professional activity as well as her literary activity performed by the side of Gyula Illyés.

Flóra typed her husband’s manuscripts and held contact with editors and publishers, while their family had close friendship with several famous people. Based on material owned by National Széchényi Library, the exhibition focuses on the correspondence of Mrs. Gyula Illyés with the daughter of Ferenc Molnár, the widow of György Sárközi, Márta Sárközi, who typeset and published the re-launched journal Válasz (Response). After the death of her husband, Mrs. Gyula Illyés was taking caring of the legacy. Exhibited will be books published during this period, too.

As a founder of Hungarian special education psychology, Mrs. Gyula Illyés performed research work and published regularly on top of practical work. Her major writings are also shown at our exhibition. Dr. Flóra Kozmutza’s oeuvre included ardent work for the early recognition of disability and she made her voice heard for the acceptance of those living with disability.

The exhibition can be visited on Floor 7 of NSZL, in the catalogue space, from September 1, 2015, during the opening hours of the Library. Visitors who do not own a Reader Pass to NSZL can have a look at our temporary chamber exhibitions for a flat fee of HUF 400.

Invitation card