Private collection from artists’ legacies in a Kolozsvár archive

(Literary canons and lists of remembrance)

László Székely (later László Szabédi, 1907-1959), a child at the time, his father, Sándor Székely – a stationmaster born in Szabéd (Săbed, Romania) –, his mother, Emília Rédiger– daughter of a pastor in Szabéd – and his four little siblings moved to their house in Kolozsvár’s Hóstát area in 1914, before the outbreak of WW I. Having miraculously survived the ’ambitious’ urban development programme implemented by the Romanian dictatorship, including the large-scale demolition of homes in the Hóstát in the 1970s and 1980s, the house and its garden are still standing, although in a converted form.

What is now the Szabédi Memorial House at 30 Lázár Street (Gh. Lazăr) was donated to the Hungarian Public Education Association of Transylvania (EMKE) in 1996 together with the written legacy of poet, prose writer, aesthete, literary historian and linguist László Szabédi by Rozália Székely, his sister and the keeper of the legacy.

The reorganised Memorial House was inaugurated in May 2007, the centenary of the birth of László Szabédi, serving as a venue for a large part of the library holdings originating from various legacies as well as for the memorial room reopened on the street front in accordance with Rozália’s wishes.

The interdisciplinary conferences of the Szabédi Days/Day – organised by EMKE since 1993 around the birthday of László Szabédi – not only host professional debates but also ceremonies of remembrance (laying a wreath at the memorial plaque, paying tribute at the poet’s tomb in the Házsongárd Cemetery). The idea of these events was conceived by literary historian Lajos Kántor, who before his death last year had researched Szabédi’s oeuvre and its implications.

The legacies were systematised and a scholarly workshop was set up in 2002-2004, where the staff of the Encyclopaedia of Hungarian Literature in Romania (ed. Gyula Dávid) worked with the manuscripts and periodicals of the collection preserved here at their disposal. The events linked to the collection include temporary exhibitions, presentations, lectures, book presentations and debates.

In a transdisciplinary age, the future of this collection is partly decided by what role literature and the public discourse about it played in the Hungarian culture of Transylvania when the ‘national identity complex’ was formulated, and what role it plays now, when this complex is operated. The interpretation of literature and its legitimacy, the nature of canons and the rules of what to include and exclude are steeped in the social space and time we live in, affecting the selection of canonised works.

Provided the shortage of funds and space is resolved, the future of the Szabédi Memorial House will depend on the extent of its integration into the global network of digital institutions, as well as on its solutions and projects launched in response to today’s multimedia challenges. As a first step, the catalogues of the manuscript legacies that have been systematised and are not subject to special permission have been made available on the institution’s homepage along with the list of the library holdings.