József Méliusz, the Melancholic Traveler


Abstract: A fine observer of the places he discovers while travelling to Transylvania in 1943, Méliusz József, a Hungarian writer born in Timișoara, captures many aspects of the Central‐European history of the region, particularly the contrast between the gloomy present and the dynamic past. His volume Destiny and Symbol or the Novel of a Transylvanian Journey in Nineteen Fourty‐Three is a synthesis of Méliusz József’s activity as a travel writer, uncovering the original structures of a memory‐mediated perspective upon identity and otherness. My interest is focused on a close investigation of the factors that favor Méliusz József’s rich vision, that of a traveler exploring his present through the many lenses of the past, a writer expressing a complex type of cultural identity in a time of dramatic change and unrest. A poet as well, Méliusz József impregnated his other travel and fiction writings (among which the critically acclaimed novel The City Lost in Mist about his native Timișoara) with an indefinable mixture of melancholy and nostalgia, one of the trademarks of his dense artistic vision.

Keywords: travel literature, communism, cultural identity, imagology, Hungarian writers in Romania