Múlt és Jövő, September 1916. (YIVO)

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Múlt és Jövő

(Past and Future), literary, artistic, social, and critical periodical, published in Hungary between 1911 and 1944 and renewed in 1988. Founded by József Patai, Múlt és Jövő first appeared in 1911 as a stylish almanac, becoming a monthly from 1912 until March 1919, when the Hungarian Soviet Republic shut it down. In the first years of the counterrevolutionary regime, between 1919 and 1923, it was published as a political weekly. Beginning in October 1921, it reverted to monthly publication, continuing until March 1944. When Patai immigrated to Palestine in 1939, Ernő Molnár—his brother-in-law and the editor of the periodical’s youth supplement, Remény (Hope)—became editor in chief, though the masthead continued to list Patai’s name in that position. Molnár died in the Holocaust.

Although Patai founded Múlt és Jövő on his own initiative, using his wife’s dowry, he had backing from the Országos Magyar Izraelita Közművelődési Egylet (National Hungarian Israelite Educational Society), which gave copies to its members. He also had the support of the Magyar Zsidók Pro Palesztina Szövetsége (Hungarian Jews’ Pro-Palestine Organization). According to the oral testimony of Patai’s sons Raphael and Saul, Múlt és Jövő was published in 5,000 copies, two-thirds of which were distributed to Hungarian-speaking Jews living in territories lost by Hungary as a result of World War I. This national and cultural connection explains why the antisemitic Horthy regime permitted the monthly to be published, even as it banned the political weekly.

In the 1920s, a version of Múlt és Jövő appeared in Cluj and Bratislava. Beginning in that decade, Múlt és Jövő organized cultural trips to Palestine and art exhibitions in Budapest (for Ephraim Lilien, Abel Pann, Herman Struck, and the Bezalel School of the Arts); at the Music Academy of Budapest and in several other cities, it held cultural evenings involving contributing authors alongside actors and musicians.

Múlt és Jövő covered a broad array of Jewish cultural interests, both traditional and modern. It took account of noteworthy Jewish scientists, artists, writers, and thinkers, both in Hungary and abroad. Múlt és Jövő had a decidedly Zionist orientation. Because it paid close attention to the establishment and culture of the Yishuv (the pre-state Jewish settlements in Palestine), the periodical remains a useful documentary source for the Yishuv’s cultural life.

Although no writer except József Patai invested his life work in Múlt és Jövő, the periodical nonetheless published the totality of the Jewish-oriented work of some of the most outstanding Hungarian writers of Jewish origin, among them Zoltán Somlyó, Ernő Szép, Károly Pap, and Zoltán Zelk. Múlt és Jövő was most effective and modern in its coverage of fine arts or, in more general terms, visual culture. This was reflected in its art nouveau typography and in the artistic execution of its visual material, despite the shortage of good-quality paper after World War I that made the printing of illustrations difficult. After it ceased to be a political weekly, the periodical avoided Hungarian politics. The enactment of anti-Jewish laws in 1939 had no effect on it except for the addition of the phrase zsidó lap (Jewish periodical) to the masthead.

Múlt és Jövő was published until 1944. After the Holocaust, several attempts were made in Tel Aviv, Paris, and Geneva to revive it, but none lasted for more than a few issues. In 1988, János Kőbányai reestablished the journal in Budapest, and Múlt és Jövő has been published as a quarterly ever since.

Suggested Reading

János Kőbányai, “Két világ határán, két világ szélén,” in Zsidó szellem ma, pp. 5–22 (Budapest, 1999), an interview with Patai’s son Raphael.



Translated from Hungarian by Imre Goldstein