Representations of Hungary and Transylvania in John Paget’s Travelogue

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Abstract

Hungary was an important destination for British travelers in the nineteenth century, whose travel accounts provide intriguing insights into the cultural and political climate of the period. John Paget’s journey was meticulously recorded in his extensive book entitled Hungary and Transylvania (1839) that served as a travel guide for other British visitors after him. Paget, who took part in the 1848/49 War of Independence, and became a “Hungarian,” opened Europe’s eyes to the Hungarian people and their country, destroying several false myths that existed about Hungarians in Western Europe, thus attempting to shape up a more favorable picture about them. The present paper examines a few questions regarding the representation of Hungary and of Transylvania in general in the travelogue: how did Paget describe particular cities and regions, the inhabitants, as well as their everyday life? I will attempt to look at the (changing) images of Hungary and Transylvania in Paget’s writing, as well as to offer an insight into Hungarian society and culture in the nineteenth century as contrasted to English culture and politics.

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