Wednesday, 9 November 2011

András Pető at Harvard

Well, at least a considerable documentary record
You should use it!

Gábor Pintér writes –
The Moreno collection is in the Medical Faculty of Harvard University (Francis Countway Library of Medicine, 10 Shattock Street, Boston, Massachusetts, 02115), which I visited in 1993 with a personal recommendation from Zerka Moreno [Jacob Marino’s widow]. The collection comprises a total of 2002 (11) thick files, each containing a huge amount of material (100 or more documents in a single file): articles, letters, films, periodicals, personal and family documents, material relating to contacts abroad – a multitude of documents, hand-written by Moreno and others, typed, and printed. I was able to look through only a few of the two thousand files. Three files (Nos 1148-1150) contain material relating to Hungary – letters and documents from Hárdy, Noszlopi, Völgyesi and others.
But the name that occurs most frequently is that of Pető, later that of Mária Hári. There was continuous correspondence with Pető from the first exchanges of letters right up to the time of Pető’s death. It was startling to see Pető’s handwriting on the open yellow postcard bearing an old 20 fillér stamp (the one with the articulated tram), with his Budapest address as the sender’s address, and to be confronted in Boston with the Hungarian-language notification of his death. In their correspondence I was able to discover the deep and intensive emotional threads of friendship on both sides. In addition, due to the political checks on letters going to America, Pető’s writing style was noticeably full of implication and avoided being specific. Pető gave lengthy accounts of his work and the new discipline of conduction, and sent copies of his articles. He likes to look back on the years they spent together in Vienna, and openly said how fond he had become of Moreno and family *. Moreno was pleased that Pető’s ‘brilliant method’ had also proved a success in England. He tried to establish contacts for Pető with movement therapy institutes in America. Later he expressed anxiety about Pető’s deteriorating health. After their visit to Budapest, he wrote:
Dear András, words cannot express my deep gratitude to you and your good friends in Budapest. Please pass on my warmest personal greetings to Mária Hári and the girl who looked after Johnathan. I hope your professional program is on the right track. I now have a better understanding of your problem.
Immediately after Pető’s death Jacob Marino wrote in a letter:
He was one of my best friends, an unforgettable man!
A nice little PhD there for someone. At the very least, a manageable personal study and a magazine or journal article to help drag CE into more serious (and relevant?) academic consideration…

We live in hope.

Contextualising their friendship

Other than this brief encounter in 1963, their actual personal friendship had occurred in the years before the Great War. Chapter 2, ‘The university years’, of René Marineau’s biography of Marino provides the only second-person account of András Pető’s life from all his years up till after 1945.

Fascinating reading it is too.

References and footnote

Marineau, M. (1989) Jacob Levy Moreno, 1889-1974: father of psychodrama, sociometry, and group psychotherapy, London, Royledge

Pintér, G. (2003) András Pető and Jacob Levi Moreno. Conductive Education Occasional Papers, no.10. Budapest: International Pető Institute, pp. 1-12

*    Moreno went to Budapest in 1963, at Pető’s invitation… accompanied by his wife Zerka and their young son Johnathan. Moreno gave a lecture at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, organised by the Institute of Sociology.

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