Northern Illinois University Press

Seeing Red

Hungarian Intellectuals in Exile and the Challenge of Communism

Lee Congdon

"Superb and moving."—István Deák, East European Politics and Societies

"Pioneering!... A stimulating and skillfully written analysis of the Hungarian émigré political left."
—Joseph Held, Editor of The Columbia History of Eastern Europe in the Twentieth Century

Scarred by Europe's wars, Hungary produced an extraordinary number of the twentieth century's leading intellectuals, many of whom lived outside their native land. In exile first from Hungary and then from their adopted homes in Germany and Austria, these thoughtful men and women led some of the key political discussions of their day. All of them spoke in one voice to condemn nazism, but their attitudes toward communism differed. For some, the "Soviet Experiment" promised utopia; to others it was another form of totalitarianism.

When Hitler came to power, Hungarian intellectuals, many of Jewish origin, began to look for new places to settle. For the Communists, the Soviet Union was the obvious choice. Others—among them Arthur Koestler, Michael Polanyi, Karl Polanyi, Aurel Kolnai, and Frederick Antal—opted for England, where they became prominent figures in the international debate over the theory and practice of communism. After the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, still others, all of whom had experienced life in Stalinist Hungary, sought refuge in England.

Prodigiously researched, Seeing Red argues that the great debate over communism was at the crux of the lives and thought of the Hungarian intellectuals in exile. In some cases, disagreements about communism strained personal relationships to the breaking point. communism, these thinkers recognized, both raised and answered questions that went to the heart of what it means to be human. Interpreting the experience of two generations, Congon illuminates the ideas of Hungarian émigré intellectuals in the context of the modern crisis of belief.

(2001) 240 pp.
ISBN: 978-0-87580-283-1
cloth $44.00

Lee Congdon is Professor of History at James Madison University and author of The Young Lukács and Exile and Social Thought.

Table of Contents

Introduction: A New Faith
Chapter One: "The Soviet Experiment"
Chapter Two: The War Years
Chapter Three: The Cultural Cold War
Chapter Four: The New Emigrés
Epilogue: Beyond Anticommunism

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ISBN: 978-0-87580-283-1
cloth $44.00