Celebrating the Book

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National Széchényi Library commemorates the 220-year old Hungarian book market by its exhibition entitled “Celebrating the Book” („a Könyv ÜnnepeL) presenting centuries of book trade in Hungary. Selecting from the decorative volumes of the great publishing houses of the 19th century, NSZL shows how, in the past, the book profession could make a notable event, a historical moment or a writer’s jubilee festive. The general public can have a look at a representative selection of decorative works, festive volumes and special editions published by the great publishers of the time including, among others, Conrad Adolf Hartleben, János Tamás Trattner, Gusztáv Heckenast and Mór Ráth. Selection was based on the first list of books published in 1798. These publications will let you know why the great flood of Pest-Buda in 1838 was a milestone in the history of Hungarian publishing houses, how they saluted the coronation ceremony of 1867 or how the Millennium of Hungary had been celebrated.

You can “turn the pages” of the publication history of works by Sándor Petőfi, János Arany or Mór Jókai. You can also take pleasure in the representative volumes published on honorary occasions or for writer’s jubilees. Visitors can have a glimpse of the pamphlet world of calls for subscription by booksellers who wished to collect as many readers as possible and sold their products for “6 frt. pengő forints” (local currency of the time). You can also enter the market of 20th-century booksellers and get to know period poster art. Those interested can have a look at a compilation of posters showing that these books also served as means of cultural political propaganda. During your visit to NSZL’s chamber exhibition, you can give your own, 21st-century answer to the question put by János Arany to Sándor Petőfi: “How do you think the writer should negotiate with booksellers? Do you need a formal request and take a hen or rabbit with you?”

Chamber exhibition entitled “Celebrating the Book” („a Könyv ÜnnepeL”) can be visited at the ceremonial stand of the 22nd International Book Festival Budapest, during the Festival.