On Thursday, the 8th of June, visitors to Adna Café, Budapest took part in an interesting and uplifting book launch at 6 PM. Fables by Gáspár Heltai was launched here, a re-print of the 1566 book of the famous Reformer, pastor, writer, and typographer. The realisation of the publication was supported by the Reformation Memorial Committee.

It is perhaps the most famous work of the well-known Reformer and author, one of the great ‘entrepreneurs’ of his age, Gáspár Heltai, that was resurrected by the people at Magyar Napló Press. This is ‘Fables’, that also received an accompanying CD. On the disc, the animal fables are read by Kazinczy laureate Pál Szalóczy, in a period language. The re-imagined publication was launched on the 8th of June at Adna Café, Budapest. The ear-catching melodies of period music group ‘Tabulature’ provided a special atmosphere to the event.

The host of the evening was painter and writer Noémi Vészabó. The book launch started with the thoughts of performing artist Pál Szalóczy, then Dr Károly Hafenscher, State Commissioner of the Reformation Memorial Committee welcomed the attendants.

“When we think about Reformation, we primarily think of a religious movement, that started as a theological dispute. (…) But it still has an effect today. It affected not only theology, Church life, but a number of other fields that define one’s entire life.”

The State Commissioner said that we may see this rejuvenation through human life as well, for example, by examining the everyday life of 16th century reformers. Gáspár Heltai, for example, was originally German-speaking, but he learned Hungarian so well that the eventually became someone who was a part of the language’s evolution. A perfect example is his book of Fables, that still help us live and orient ourselves in live. The next one to speak was Dr András Szabó. He guided the attendants into the details of the life of Gáspár Heltai, underlining that, as a publisher and typographer, Heltai “aimed his work at the Hungarian-speaking market” from the beginning. That was when he decided that he would write himself, as well.

“His fables are primarily moral tales. They are about how to live our lives, and how to behave. He suggests an honourable lifestyle to everyone.”

At the book launch, the publisher, Magyar Napló was also represented, in the persons of chief editor Zoltán Jánosi and editor Ádám Réger. Between speeches, Tabulature played, and even Pál Szalóczy himself read from the book, who, at the end of the event, in his last speech, emphasised the importance of this work, exactly because of its audiobook character. This way we can imagine easier how and in what way our ancestors expressed themselves. Not to mention that the audiobook format is getting more and more popular in the 21st century, and it is more and more widespread in Western Europe. Pál Szalóczy said that he would like to be a Hungarian standard-bearer of this.

Hopefully, this way of consuming literature will become more popular in the near future in Hungary, as well, and we will be able to listen to many more books, maybe even in the ‘interpretation’ of multiple performers.