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Conservative poet calls for cultural renewal

August 11th, 2018

A pro-government poet blames the drop in sales of books of literature on what he calls the elitism which dominates the literary field, and proposes that the national interest should be the priority in literature too.

In Magyar Idők, János Dénes Orbán calls for renewal in the field of literature. The pro-government poet thinks that Hungary was in 2008 not only in an economic crisis, but also a cultural one. He suggests that Hungarians turned away from literature as a result of neoliberalism, the advance of digital culture and consumerism. In order to restore the dignity and popularity of literature, cultural politics needs to take a U-turn, and abandon the elitist ‘navel-watching’ approach. He goes on to suggest that in literature too, national interests should be put before ideological and market interests. Orbán is one of the leading  personalities of the ‘new culture wars’ (See BudaPost, July 23) and has demanded more space for conservative writers following the third crushing victory of the Right in April. His remarks were criticised by another pro-government writer László L. Simon who told him that writers have to gain ‘space’ with their works, rather than through their politics.