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.
(George Orwell, 1984, 1.8.)

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 before 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”. With this term they usually refer 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 with a double meaning which – like all past ages – raises nostalgia and aversion at the same time, is translated by us to English as “brave old world” which, besides the feeling of the “good old times” also implies the irony of Huxley’s “brave new world”. We are curious to know how our readers would translate it to other languages.


Belle époque
The future, a century ago
Cartes de visite
The language of stamps
The first bicycles 1. 2. 3.
A black man in Hamburg
Black people in the zoo
Ghosts on old photos 1. and 2.
   The Austro-Hungarian Monarcy
The tastes of the Monarchy 1. and 2
Hawelka in Vienna and Krakow
A restaurant in Abbazia (es)
I, Anna Csillag: ads from Schulz to Hitler
Beginnings of the Hungarian railway
The Casino of Kőbánya
Hundred years of a tree in Kőbánya
Pharmacies in Kőbánya
The Golden Eagle Inn in Pest
Postcard from Budapest to Florence, 1900, and the vanished Tabán
Temperance campaign at the turn of the century
Shutter labels: Korányi and Fröhlich, Paschka, Sándor Árkai, Czernowitz, Lemberg and Żółkiew
A former passage in Lwów
Multi-ethnic house in Lemberg
Century-old brick graffiti in Budapest
“King Matthias’ palace” in Kassa, 1899-1943
Bram Stoker’s hotel in Beszterce
Vampire-killing sets for a Transylvanian journey
Hungarian Armenians
Art Nouveau in Szabadka
Szabadka 1912-ben, 1. 2. 3. 4.
An Indian in Szabadka
The last postcards of the Monarchy – from Odessa
The Austro-Hungarian army, 1914
Passion play in Oberammergau
Pictures of old summers
A Whitsuntide excursion
The Oxford Arms Inn and old London
Ghosts in the photos of old London
Figures in old photos of Paris
Henri Roger-Viollet, Paris
The Luna Park in Paris
Building and apotheosis of the Eiffel Tower
Train accident, 1895
The last Tsar in Paris, 1896
Zuavs in the French colonial army
The Fifer Boy in the imperial army
French primer of geography, 1905
Az 1910-es nagy párizsi árvíz
Childhood of an Italian patriarch
The first hydrocycle
The Messina earthquake, 1908
Photos of dead children
Old Palma in the photos of the Escalas archive
Palma: The first velocipedists
Palma: The Born Passage and Edison’s voice
The rural world of Mallorca
   The Russian empire
Alexander Roinashvili, the traveler
Dmitry Ermakov, chronicler of the Caucasus
Ernest Chantre’s Caucasian photos, 1881
Flood of the Kura in Tiflis, 1893
Qajar houses in Tiflis
Ivan Boldyrev: Don Cossacks, 1875-76
Marriage ad with a balance
Moscow’s fire brigades 1. and 2.
Constructing the Trans-Siberian Railroad
Sakhalin, 1894-1905
Bike on the dacha
Three Russian family photos from Ekaterinoslav, 1914
Three generations on Russian photos
Russian photos from Odessa
Culture of Odessa in the early 20th c.
The blossoming and end of Jewish Odessa
The Russian army, 1892
Russian sailors at the Messina earthquake, 1908
Moscow in 2259
Russian slides by František Krátký, 1896
The coronation of the last Tsar, 1896
The last Tsar in Paris, 1896
The last day of the peace
   The Ottoman empire
An Ottoman shoebox
Damascus anno
Photographers of the East
Turkish-Hungarian friendship
   The Persian empire
Ahmad Mirza, the last Qajar Shah
Sándor Kégl, Iranian scholar
Qajar houses in Tiflis
   The Heavenly Empire
Studio Po-Chou, Hong Kong, 1897-ben
Yinglish shop label in New York

Great Games
The Gulistan Treaty
The exiles of the Boer war

The Great War
The attempt in Sarajevo in the Russian press
The cut photos of the attempt in Sarajevo
To My Peoples
Soldiers’ trains 1. és 2.
Pink postcards from the front to Óbuda over six years, 1.
The Europeana 1914-1918 project
Conquering eveywhere. War ad of the Pathé Brothers
Versions of the “pointing” recruiting poster
British and Russian children’s propaganda
German military children’s books
Preparation for the war with paper soldiers
Bathing little Venus, delight of children soldiers
Krampus and red devils on the front
Soldiers’ cemetery in the Carpathians (Tatariv)
An evangeliary from Galicia
The Jews of Podhajce greeting Archduke Frederick, 1916
The Jews of Kolomea greeting Charles IV, 1917
Generals in Lemberg’s Café Sztuka
Statues of Hungarian and Romanian heroes in the Carpathians
Songs from the two banks of the Isonzo
Austro-Hungarian artillery in the Holy Land
The five graves of Captain Truszkowski
Jews in WWI. Exhibition of the Vienna Jewish Museum, 2014
Jewish military cemetery at Gorlice (es)
Kraftwagenpark 505: German soldiers in the Holy Land 1. and 2.
People of Véménd in Béla Hernai’s photos, 1916-1918
Christmas greetings by Russian POWs to Sándor Kégl
Photo cut in two in Valenciennes
Merry-making at the news of Russia’s withdrawal from the war

Strange peaces
New borders in Europe
The Hutsul Republic
School at the border: Temesvár/Timișoara
Hungarian coat of arms on the Croatian Parliament, 1918
The Moravians in Hultschin, who said no to Czechoslovakia
Pseudo-referendum on Subcarpathia

The Mexican revolution
The Casasolas, chroniclers of the revolution
Songs of the revolution
José Guadalupe Posada, drawer of the revolution
Holy pictures of the revolution

The world revolution
Photos of the February revolution in the Dicescu collection
Retouched postcards of the February revolution
True pictures of the October revolution
Vladimir Fedorov’s revolutionary cartoons, 1917
Lenin’s Transylvanian bodyguard
The fate of an officer’s family
Fleeing Russia
The birth of the Soviet Union and the Council of People’s Commissars
Eugenetics in the Soviet Union
Boris Kustodiev’s processions
Boris Kustodiev’s great leap
Mayakovsky, lighthouse of the revolution
World revolution for children
Day of Birds and other parades
The NEP period and its songs, 1921-1928
Soviet Photo, 1926
Yuri Yeremin: Moscow, 1926
Branson De Cou: Moscow, Peterhof, Tsarskoe Selo, Odessa, 1931
Ilya Ilf, Russian and American photos
Two New Year photos from Russia
War against the alcohol
Hungarian and French campaign at the turn of the century
Soviet temperance posters, 1920-1991
Say no! Metamorphoses of the poster of 1954
Polish temperance posters
With temperance posters against Coca-Cola
With luboks against the alcohol, 1989

Between two wars
The golden age of Hungarian photography
Hassids in Subcarpathia
Polish Jews: Alter Kacyzne
Polish Jews: Roman Vishniac
Polish Jews: Menachem Kipnis
Kipnis’ cantors
The Al Capone of Tarnów
Jewish quarter in old Lwów
Yiddish shop labels in Lwów
Places of mezuzahs in Lwów
Old book posters from Lwów
Postcards of Rosh Hashana
Photos of the Czech priest Josef Baťka from the New World
Picture cathecism according to the Bernadette method
French family photo with a blacksmith’s workshop
Father and son in Buenos Aires
The Görlitz railway station in Berlin
Willy Römer’s photos on Berlin’s craftsmen in the 1920s and 1930s
Buhse, the shoemaker, by Gabriele Tergit, with a photo by Willy Römer
Organ grinders in Berlin
Organ grinders in Budapest
Old Serbian Gypsy musicians
Wilhelm Miklas in Budapest, 1937
Paleo-GPS’s from the 1930s
Tango’s golden age: Carlos Gardel
Pyotr Leshchenko and Russian homesickness
Bohemian world in Bucharest
Misery in Bucharest
Balance of a hundred years in Bucharest
Who was Essad Bey?
Lenin, Hitler and the children
Mussolini, Perón, Franco and the children
Germany and the Soviet Union in the Paris world exposition of 1937
Warsaw, a week before the war

The Spanish civil war
The last 13 hours of Lorca’s life
The conquest of Potes
Franco, the friend of the children
Bullfight at Stalingrad

The Great Terror
Waiting for the executionExploding the Church of Christ the Savior, 1931 and the photo of Ilya Ilf on it
Crimean Tatars on the photos of Husein Bodaninsky, 1920-30s
God is great and I’m not. Soviet monumental statues
Lenin head in the Altai
Lenin statues on imperial bases
Drawings of Soviet prisoners on Lenin
The Russian Beobachtung, 1935
The snake in German-Soviet propaganda
1 May 1935. Color film by Nikolai Ekk
Voyage from Tula to Moscow for 7 November 1937
Jean Abbe, photographer of dictators
Good wishes for Stalin’s birthday, 1939

Drang nach Osten
The SS officers’ housing estate of Krumme Lanke
The ideal Nazi family
Holidays in Nazi Germany
Nazi May Day, 1933
Anna Csillag, Hitler’s master
Nobel Peace Prize for Hitler
Hitler in the Jewish cemetery of Bucharest
Jew-cleaning game in Vienna
Kristallnacht, destruction of the German synagogues and On the 75th anniversary
Apotheose of Marechal Pétain
Eiffel Tower, 1940
Soldatenkaffees in the occupied Paris (and elsewhere)
German policemen with Black POW
German soldiers’ photos from the Warsaw ghetto
Memorial to the Nazi liberators
The German Kharkov
Johannes Hähle: Kharkov, Lubny, Baby Yar
The last fresco of Bruno Schulz
Drohobycz and the world
Lemberg’s destroyed synagogues
The Janowska death camp in Lemberg
Birth of the Tango of Death
Landscape around Belżec in 1936 and 2014
Tale on the Roman ghetto
The Generalgouvernement’s birthday, 1941
Easter 1942 in the occupied lands
An ordinary day in German Kiev, 1942
The “Death Match” of Kiev, 1942
The lies of BBC on the Death Match of Kiev, 2012
Blooming and destruction of Św. Józef in Galicia

War phrasebooks
War phrasebooks
Russian phrasebook to the occupation of Estonia, 1940
German-Russian phrasebook for a preventive blow, 1941 and a confirmation article on the same
German-Russian mechanical dictionary, 1940(?)
Russian-German phrasebook for the Wehrmacht
Russian-German phrasebook with Nazi feast days, 1942
Russian primer for German soldiers, with prisoners’ camp
A patriotic Polish-Hungarian dictionary, 1940
Romanian primer for the returned Transylvania, 1940
Hungarian-Russian phrasebook on requisition, 1942
Hungarian phrasebook for the Soviet liberators
Belgian phrasebook for the English liberators

The non-war (1939-1941)
Polish-German, two good friends, 1933-1939
Occupation of Lwów, 1939
Soviet-Nazi parade in Brest, 1939
German and Soviet films on crushed Poland
On Stalin’s birthday, 1939
Dovzhenko’s Bukovinian propaganda film, 1940
Cernăuți 1939 – Черновиц 1940
This was – this became. The Estonian government, 1940
Soviet-German poster for the bombing of London

The Great Patriotic War
Yevgeny Khaldei’s war photos
Triangular soldier’s letters
Song on Katyusha
Children in the war
The hero cats of Leningrad
Destroy King Kong!
Parade of captive German soldiers in Moscow, 17 July 1944
Greetings from Trenčín
Triumphal graffiti on the Reichstag
Soviet soldiers’ graves

The world war
Finn video with mistaken map, 1939
Secondary use of military maps
Italian soldier at the Don
British leaflets in Iran on the model of the Shahnameh, 1943
Soviet and German safe-conducts
German, Italian, Soviet illustrated front postcards
Nazi demotivator leaflets for American and British soldiers
Japanese war kimonos
Souvenir of Hiroshima
Robert Capa’s photos on D-Day
Meeting at the Elbe, 25 April 1945
Boris Kobe’s lager card from Dachau, 1945
Mine-free ghost inscription in Vienna

Hungary in the war
Visiting in 1939 the returned Huszt and in Kőrösmező
Pictures of the Kőrösmező railway station
Memory of the Jews deported in 1941 to Kamenets-Podolsk in Kőrösmező
Romanian primer for the returned Transylvania, 1940
Hungarian scout on the front
Our man on the Russian front
Lonely gravepost in Nagykónyi
A poet going to forced service
The Bor Notebook by Miklós Radnóti
Yellow-star houses, Budapest 1944
The yellow-star house of Marcell Komor
Hand-drawn Russian front postcards
Don. A tragedy and its afterlives
Photos of Zoltán Marics from the Don Bend
Hungarian soldiers in Danemark, 1945
Soviet occupation in Csömör
The day of the dead
Mine-free ghost inscriptions in Budapest

La Resistenza
Bella ciao
After the War
After siege: Stalingrad and Budapest
After siege – sixty years later
The blown-up Elisabeth Bridge
The blown-up Marguerite Bridge
Organ grinder in Kígyó Street
Lwów depolonized
Radio Lwów, Radio Breslau
The Nazi elefant and more
Deportation of the Germans from Southern Bohemia
The abandoned cemetery of Ottau/Zátoň (es)

The Cold War
Stamp in Imogen Cunningham’s passport

War on the front of the peace
   The Soviet Union
Russian-Nanay two good friends
Village lunch on Lake Baikal, 1978
The Soviet radical absurd
I don’t speak for all Odessa
Ropeways of the Georgian mining town Chiatura
The building of the Ostankino tower
Moscow, 1956
Jacques Dupâquier: Moscow and Tashkent, 1956
Viktor Akhlomov, the Party’s photographer
Flag science. Soviet flags from the Memento Park
Soviet prison cards, 1967-81
Saints in the woodworker’s shop
May Day in Moscow, 1983
Khayyam brought down to earth
The Lithuanian school of photography
The photos of Romualdas Požerskis
Return of Novruz in Baku
Santiago de Baku
Ideal cities and their fall
Aleksandr Kalion: Province, early 80s
   Central Europe
The Stalin statue in Prague (1952-1963)
Czech provincial trains in winter
Czech trolleybuses
“Village radio” in Český Krumlov (es)
Two poems by Miroslav Holub
Clematis sociology 1 and 2.
Košice, Schalkház Hotel
Soviet officer and his family in Hungary
Russian first
Headwaters of the Lenin Song
Captain Ostapenko’s statue
On the 60th birthday of Comrade Rákosi
No maintenance to be paid for minors fleeing the country
1956 in Polish TV newsreels
Sissi film with Hungarian dubbing, 1956
Prison library
Traiin accident, 1962
Playing in the suburbs of Budapest
Old market in Óbuda
Brick graffiti in the ELTE
Bookmobile in Kőbánya
Statue of Béla Radics in Angyalföld
History sung
Do not wait for May
The sea
The old Beijing, 1946
Mao with the Dalai Lama
Mao lives. Photos by three generations
John Dominis’ photos in the socialist China
Vietnamese leaflets for American soldiers

The Islamic revolution
Restaurants of dictatorships
Political message of beards
Elections in Iran, 2009
It’s winter
Shajarian: Dawn bird
The dawn gives news

Brave new world
Songs of changes of regimes
Viktor Tsoi and the golden city
Night of the bards
Pulling down the Dzherzhinsky statue in the Lubyanka
Autumn in Baku, 1989
The two bear cubs
The museum of censorship
Tbilisi, a city in-between
Steampunk Budapest from the future
Destroying poppy crops in Afghanistan

After the turn: Russia
Abandoned Russian villages 1. 2. 3. 4.
Aleksandr Sennikov’s nostalgic Soviet still lives
The poetry of decay
Service day and night
Front fighter’s vodka after Nazi model
The Nazi model of the Russian great family
Lenin, Marx, Putin
Crisis calendar in Mayakovsky’s style
Anti-Coca-Cola calendar in the style of old Soviet posters
Patriotic War against Coca-Cola
Multi-ethnic Russia, 2011
Reality show. Putin and Medvedev’s breakfast
Russian elections, 1. and 2.
The new cult of Stalin
Pro-Stalin Russian graffiti in Simferopol
Stalin’s church cult in today’s Russia
Apocryphal icons in modern Russia
Katsap and khokhol. Russian-Ukrainian nicknames
Nicknames of other peoples
May Day 2014 for Putin and the Soviet Union
Boycott, August 2014: the food which disappeared

After the turn: Ukraine
The Ferenc Mine in Solotvino
Glory to Ukraine. Nazi pub on Lemberg’s central place
Hitler, friend of the Aryan Ukraine
Kiev’s Maidan on the night of the revolution
Pulling down Lenin’s statues in the Ukraine
Trizuby Stas: Twelve communists. Song for pulling down Lenin’s statues
Yanukovich, lover of old books
Tragedy in Odessa, 2 May 2014
Parade in Donetsk with captive Ukrainian soldiers, 24 August 2014

After the turn: Central Europe
Slovak mistranslations on Hungarian statues
War songs in the Balkans once and now
Red sludge of forty years
Conspiracy of the two-tailed in Mallorca and Prague
Budapest: 2013, the crisis is over!
Tsar of the champagnes: the Soviet champagne
Magic crown in Dunakeszi, Hungary
Nokia box and Cola Cao
Time has stopped in Lwów
Hungary, great power in fooball, 2014

The decadent West
Attila, the hero of Tulln
London, May Day 2014

In search of lost time
A house in Krakow
A door on the Grodzka
A door on the Krisztina boulevard
The memory of walls
A restaurant in Abbazia (es)
Yiddish shop labels in Lwów
The cemetery of Czernowitz
The Calatrava
Siphon bottles of a childhood
Long closed corner shop in Kőbánya
House number from 1940-44 in Aknaszlatina
Ghost inscriptions in Prague’s Lesser Town
Century-old Otta Soap ghost ad in Prague
Metamorphoses of the Golden Angel in Prague
Sursum corda
On the Dam of Eternity

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!”