The Poetics and Sociology of the Bath-letter Genre in 18-19th Century Hungarian Literature

The article is an attempt to explore the genre of bath-letter, conceptualized as a peculiar literary form of 19th century Hungarian literary history emerging in the era of the Austro–Hungarian Monarchy. This literary form, which developed in the characteristic bath-culture (Badekultur) within the borders of the Habsburg Empire, transferred to the mass press in the 19th century and has become an astonishingly popular press genre, but precisely because of this, its medial environment (and the devaluation of epistle) could not gain a great prestige among literary genres. Nevertheless, style, “language” and formal characteristics of the bath-letters have appeared in Hungarian prose in the long 19th century. Firstly, I show the main formal- and substantial attributes of this genre and its Hungarian classics (József Gvadányi, count József Dessewffy). This is followed by arguing the importance of the 19th journalism bath-letters in the history of ideas and media history, also referring to the parody of this genre and literary style by the example of Kálmán Mikszáth.  

Released: Replika 126, 89–107.