Creating the urban transit: railway building, railways and the construction of the urban periphery in end – 19th century Hungarian fiction

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Zsuzsanna Varga


The construction of the Hungarian nation’s railway network was seen as an index of national and social modernity by Hungarian intellectuals at the end of the 19th century Hungary, but writers of fiction reflected with more sensitivity for the implication of social change and the ephemeral nature of the urban experience. My proposal focuses on the vastly diverse implications and literary meanings of the main railway stations of Budapest in the work of Mór Jókai (1825=1905) whose late fiction associated railway journeys with a loss of class and social status for his aristocratic characters (Gazdag szegények/ The rich poor, 1890) while for the fiction of Ernő Szép ( Lila ákác /Purple lilacs, 1919) reflected on the coming of the railway as a disruption of lower middle class metropolitan idyll. My commentary of the railway’s representation in fin – de – siecle fiction attempts to interrogate the tensions between individual authorial identities embracing technological progress and prising these complex notions apart in fiction.


Published: Nov 14, 2022

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Urban Borderlands – Comparative Perspectives