Here in Transylvania, it feels okay to be proudly English


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  • Vicky Papaprodromou
Here in Transylvania, it feels okay to be proudly English

As nationalities proliferate, the English want their turn, says Rod Liddle — who considers himself British first. St George’s Day and ‘Englishness’ have been partially decontaminated, but we are no closer to a definition of what ‘England’ is — and quite right too

Miklosvar, Transylvania

It is very easy for the majority Hungarian population in this most wild and beautiful quarter of Europe to define their essential Hungarian-ness: they are defined, principally, by what they are not. They are not Romanian, for a start — a rather backward people, they feel, a confused, hysterical, limping hybrid of two mutually exclusive racial types, the Slav and the Latin. Imagine an unsuccessful Neapolitan thug marrying a penniless whore from Novgorod and their issue would resemble something equating to your average Romanian. That, I ought to add, is how the dispossessed Hungarians see it. And the Hungarians are certainly not gypsies — a people whom they (and the Romanians, so far as I can tell) consider to be indolent, stupid and dishonest.

The Hungarian language, which is more closely related to Finnish than anything emanating from the Balkans or points further east, also marks them apart from their neighbours. As does, to a lesser degree, their cuisine, which is vigorously, irrepressibly unhealthy — consisting almost entirely of fried pork — and without the fresh whiff of the south which predominates in the restaurants of Constanta and Bucharest. There is their history, too, which has been at times a grand thing, around about the time of Franz Joseph, and at times a tragic thing. Then there is religion — primarily, they are not Orthodox, like the Romanians; but dig much further than this and we reach a problem because they are not exclusively Roman Catholic, either. There are sad pockets of Unitarian Magyars, persecuted by the popish majority, living alone in their Unitarian villages. There’s a complex and highly entertaining hierarchy of racial and religious loathing in this part of the world; there are Romanian villages, gypsy villages (which they’ve nicked from the departed Saxons and cheerfully ruined), Hungarian Catholic villages and blue-nose no-surrender Hungarian proddy villages. The differentials go way beyond race; but nonetheless, the Hungarians know they are not Romanian or, far worse, gypsy, and that seems to be good enough as the basis for a national identity around here.



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