Friday, July 26, 2013

What Hungarian students (are supposed to) read in school

But not many of them really ever do. Looking at the list, it is not at all surprising.

Short note on Literature education in Hungary: it's chronological. That means, if you go to a six-year high school like me (starting the chronology in 7th grade), you start with the oldies.

For general interest, here is a (probably not complete) list of what my generation had for mandatory curriculum reading:

The Odyssey (I was the only one in the class who actually read it)
The Kalevala (ditto, although this was not mandatory reading, we just talked about it for a month)
The underworld sequence of the epic of Gilgamesh
Sophocles: King Oedipus, Antigone
Various Roman poets (although not the Metamorphoses, sadly)
The poetry of Francois Villon (love him to bits, but not many poems were child friendly at the time)
Dante's Inferno (but not the other two parts)
Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet
Moliere: Tartuffe
Goethe: Faust (book one)
Dekameron (selected tales, obviously, although they couldn't completely fool us)
Pushkin: Eugene Onegin (perfectly calibrated for teen angst)
Victor Hugo: The Hunchback of Notre Dame (unabridged)
Balzac: Le Pére Goriot
Stendhal: The Red and the Black
Chekhov: The Seagull
Henrik Ibsen: The Wild Duck
Hemingway: The old man and the sea
Bulgakov: The Master and Margarita (I actually enjoyed the heck out of this one)
Dostoyevky: Crime and Punishment
Tolstoy: The death of Ivan Ilyich
E.T.A. Hoffmann: The Golden Pot (and they tried to tell us the guy was not on drugs...)
Thomas Mann: Mario and the Magician

Naturally these are just the international literature readings, we also have additional books by Hungarian authors.

Are you smarter than a Hungarian high school graduate?... :D

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