Brave old world

‘The beer was better,’ he said finally. ‘And cheaper! When I was a young man, mild beer – wallop we used to call it – was fourpence a pint. That was before the war, of course.’
‘Which war was that?’ said Winston.
‘It’s all wars,’ said the old man vaguely.
(Orwell, 1984, 1.8)

The happy times of peace
Cartes de visite
An Ottoman shoebox
Damascus anno
Photographers of the East
Chronicler of the Caucasus
Don Cossacks, 1875-76
Flood of the Kura in Tiflis
Turkish-Hungarian friendship
A mollah in the cemetery
Professorship for passion
I, Anna Csillag
Pharmacies of a century
The Casino of Kőbánya
Mikszáth and the Golden Eagle Inn
Palma anno
The rural world of Mallorca
The Luna Park of Paris
Building and apotheosis of the Eiffel Tower
The first bike craze
Black people in the zoo

Yinglish shop label in New York
Passion play in Oberammergau
Marriage ad with a balance
Moscow’s fire brigades
Russian slides by František Krátký
Constructing the Trans-Siberian Railroad
Sakhalin, 1894-1905
This was brought by the railway
Three generations
The real enemy
The Russian army, 1892
The Austro-Hungarian army, 1914
Shah Ahmad Mirza, the last Qajar
The coronation of the last Tsar
The last Tsar in Paris
The last day of the peace
The Great War
The attempt in Sarajevo
War is a kids’ game
Evangeliary from Galicia
Russian and Austro-Hungarian paper soldiers
Our troops standing at Gaza
The fifth grave of the Hero of Gaza
Songs from the two banks of Isonzo
The Mexican revolution
The Casasolas, chroniclers of the revolution
Music of the revolution
Design of the revolution
Holy pictures of the revolution
The world revolution
Lenin’s bodyguard
The great leap
World revolution for children
New statues on old bases
Lighthouse of the revolution (ru)
Waiting for you, comrade bird
Soviet photo, 1926
Photo findings from Kostroma
The Russian civil war
• A primer for Red Soldiers (forthcoming)
Between the two wars
The golden age of Hungarian photography
Hassids in Subcarpathia
Jewish world in Poland: Alter Kacyzne
Jewish world in Poland: Menachem Kipnis
The cantors of Kipnis
Yiddish shop labels in Lwów
Postcards of Rosh Hashana
Statesmen and children
Wilhelm Miklas in Budapest
Tango’s golden age: Carlos Gardel
Bohemian world in Bucharest
Shadows in Bucharest
Balance of a hundred years in Bucharest
Who was Essad Bey?
War against the alcohol
Early 19th-c. French and Hungarian campaigns
Soviet temperance posters, 1920-1990
With temperance posters against Coca-Cola
With luboks against the alcohol, 1989
The Great Terror
Waiting for the executionGod is great and I’m not
Moscow, 1931
Tsarskoe Selo
Ilf and the Savior’s Cathedral
Shooting dictators is a great fun
The Spanish Civil War
The last 13 hours of Lorca’s life
The conquest of Potes
Franco, friend of the children
Bullfight at Stalingrad
The non-war (1938-41)
Japanese war kimonos
Hitler in the Jewish cemetery
Nobel Peace Prize for Hitler
Occupation of Lwów
The Generalgouvernement’s birthday
Soviet-Nazi parade in Brest
The Estonian government’s fate, 1940
On Stalin’s birthday
Soviet plans against Britain
Lenin, Hitler and the children
The Second World War
War dictionaries
Russian primer for German soldiers
Russian-German war dictionary
German-Russian war dictionary
The same from the other side
Hungarian-Russian war dictionary
Estonian-Russian war dictionary
Scouts’ Easter cards
Italian soldier at the Don
The Shahnameh’s propaganda version, 1943
The Normandy landings
Belgian-Tommy war dictionary
Souvenir of Hiroshima
A lonely gravepost in Nagykónyi
Lager card from Dachau
A poet going to forced service
The Bor Notebook
The day of the dead
The Great Patriotic War
Massacres at Lubny and Baby Yar
The “Death Match” of Kiev
The German Kharkov
Easter in occupied lands
The last fresco of Bruno Schulz
Drohobycz and the world
Triangular soldier’s letters
Illustrated front postcards
Russo-German safe-conducts
Children in the war
King-Kong poster in Leningrad
The hero cats of Leningrad
Greetings from the past Trenčín
The Soviet Capa
Graffiti on the Reichstag
Soviet soldiers’ graves
La Resistenza
Bella ciao
After the war
World history in local view
After siege. Budapest
After siege. Stalingrad
What did the tovarish say?
Lwów depolonized
Radio Lwów, Radio Breslau
The Nazi elefant
The Cold War
• Khrushchev in the museum (forthcoming)
War on the front of peace
Russian first
Captain Ostapenko’s statue
Headwaters of the Lenin Song
Tengri, the blue sky
Soviet prison cards
Czech rural trains in wintertime
Library in the prison
History sung
The Lithuanian school of photography
The photos of Romualdas Požerskis
Do not wait for May
Clematis sociology 1
Clematis sociology 2
Košice, Schalkház Hotel
Saints in the woodwork shop
Red sludge of forty years
Restaurants of dictatorships
Khayyam brought down to earth
Temperance propaganda
Courtyards in Lwów
Doorbells in Lwów
Return of Novruz
Santiago de Baku
Night of the bards
There is a city
The revolution of 1956
No maintenance must be paid for minors who fled the country
The Islamic revolution
Beard science
It’s winter
The dawn gives news
Brave new world
Songs of changes of regimes
The two bear cubs
Autumn in Baku
Russian graffiti
Service day and night
Calendar in times of crisis
Patriotic Kvas War
Patriotic Kvas Calendar
Nokia box and Cola Cao
Attila, the hero of Tulln
Restoration of the Czar
Lenin, Marx, Putin
Destroying poppy crops in Afghanistan
Time has stopped in Lwów
In search of times past
A house in Cracow
A door on the Grodzka
A door on the Krisztina boulevard
The memory of walls
Yiddish shop labels in Lwów
Modern Soviet still life photos
Moscow’s courtyards
Moszkva 1900-1960
Moscow, 1981 (?)
Ideal cities
The Calatrava
Siphon bottles of a childhood
Sursum corda
On the Dam of Eternity
The Hungarian term ántivilág – “ánti-world” – is a complex one, difficult to translate. It is used almost exclusively in the locative form: “in the ántivilág”, where the prefix is the abbreviation for ante bellum, “before the war”. But which war? Because we have not been short of wars since 1914 when, as an old man told me in the Transylvanian Tibód, “they set ablaze the four corners of the world and it has been burning since ever”. They usually refer with this term to the “happy times of peace” before WWI, whose relative stability and prosperity has been long transcended into a Golden Age in the light – or rather darkness – of the continuous destruction, loss, insecurity, oppression and occupation since 1914. But every war embellishes the bygone peacetime, so the term is also used for the period between the two wars, and even – ironically – for the pre-1989 era of Socialism and Cold War.

And this already takes us to the other meaning of ántivilág, where the prefix is not interpreted as “ante” but rather as “anti-”, that is the opposite and negative mirror of our world, such as the antipodes living upside down in the southern hemisphere. Ántivilág is not only the world which perhaps was not even true, but also the one in which nothing was true, the world of manipulation and propaganda. Indeed it is usually the propaganda that creates the anti-worlds proclaimed as the best of all existing worlds, and which at the same time – when looking back or from the outside – exposes in the most absurd way the futility of such efforts.

This concept of a double meaning which, as all past age, raises nostalgia and aversion at the same time, is translated by us to English as “brave old world” which, besides the atmosphere of the “good old times” also implies the irony of Huxley’s “brave new world”. We are eagerly looking forward to know how our readers would translate it to other languages.

2 comentarios:

Effe dijo...

Nell’ultimo dopoguerra c’era una locuzione, ormai desueta, nata da una falsa mitologia di un tempo aureo che in realtà è stato tutt’altro che dorato: “si stava meglio quando si stava peggio”.

Studiolum dijo...

Bella locuzione, paradigmatica per il primo significato dell’ántivilág che cerca di localizzare la sua utopia nel passato prima dell’ultimo grande cambio delle cose.

La sua controparte che invece cerca di localizzare l’utopia nel presente, così dando vita al secondo significato dell’ántivilág, sarebbe quello che si legge sotto l’ultima immagine di questo post: “Ogni giorno si vive più allegri!”