Thursday, 13 October 2011

On Hári

...and Pető

Emma McDowell writes --

Hello, Andrew

Having read the amusing anecdote about the theatre visit, and also Susie’s wonderings, Mária Hári rises up from the grave before my mind’s eyes, as I knew her. I have often described my various kinds of encounters with her – and yes, I had heard about the briefcases or shopping bags too, and many other anecdotes – but not about her going to see the play Anna Frank’s Diary with Pető, so thank you, Peter Popper.

 I assume you know that for a time in the fifties you had to show yourself as a true 'proletarian'  by NOT dressing up for the theatre. If you did it was 'decadent' and to be seen as 'decadent' was a dangerous thing. We take it for granted that young women just learn how to dress etc. In Hungary in the post-war years when Hári was young because of poverty and anti-bourgeois ideology, this wasn’t necessarily so.

Having said that, she was a 'late developer' and even looked glamorous (well, as far as she needed to be) on some press photographs; I believe that she even changed her glasses to something less unbecoming.

And She COULD produce a warm, lovely smile.

As for Pető, he fits perfectly the image of the Professor in the autocratic 'clinic' system of Hungary of the time, with the female staff (not all!) swooning before the power-image that he managed to maintain within the Institute Thank goodness for that! Not because of the grotesque hero-worshipping that prevailed within a closed system, but because that way he could produce the tangible results that he had believed were possible, and what he later called conductive education.

Best wishes
Emma

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