Wednesday, 1 July 2015


What is an angel?
One answer, from András Pető

Péter Popper, the psychologist, was born in 1933 and when he was a young man he had known the by then elderly and ailing András Pető. He himself died in 2010. In his own later life Peter Popper was quite a raconteur. I have been recently  reminded by the abridged English edition of Mária Hári's History of conductive pedagogy of yet another of his tales about András Pető, this one invoking angels.
Is András Pető's angel what people usually imply when they use the word 'angels' to describe those who care for disabled children and adults, be they conductors, or family, or anyone?

Peter Popper wrote –
It subsequently became clear that Pető, who was Semitic, had to come home [from Paris to Budapest, in 1938] in order to cure the writer Sándor Morái of his depression. Marái was lying on a sofa in a darkened room suffering. They didn't actually know each other: it was Marai's friends who took Pető (who was regarded almost as a magician) to see him.

'Sándor, get up and write, that's what you have to do,' he said. 
'When God sends one of his angels to tell me to get up, then I'll get up,' Márai said in a faint voice.
Then the bald, fat, Buddha-like doctor, carrying a scrotal hernia the size of a watermelon with inimitable dignity, hit him in the chest.
'Sándor, look here. Here's the angel!'
And Márai got up. That's how the legend goes.
Pető was Sándor Márai's doctor, and this was Márai's account of the events.
G is an excellent doctor of the academic type. He knows much more that my unfaithful old doctor [András Pető], whose healing method practically consisted of laying on of hands, and if he [X] was left alone in the evening, he would carefully lock the door and read old bound volumes of Pesti Futar. But X is a shaman, G is a scholar. X may not have known what was wrong with me but, if he wanted to, he could cure me.
G can diagnose my illness much more precisely, but I'm not sure that he can cure me.
Mária Hári's History

(pp. 27-28)
A few words of annotation...

The above English translation has been transcribed from the abridged English edition of Maria Hari's History, with minor amendments to punctuation and lay-out.
Sándor Márai (1900-1989) was a well-known writer and journalist
Budapest was hardly 'home' to András Pető until he located there from Paris .
There are other accounts of why András Pető went to live in Budapest shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War.
Pesti Futár: 'The Pest Courier'


Hári, M. (2001) The history of conductive pedagogy, abridged English translation, Budapest, International Pető Institute

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