Kányádi, Sándor. “Double speech”: Interpretations of poetry, 2009. Interview
“Double speech” (also called “Aesopian language,” “oblique discourse/language,” “ambivalent discourse” etc.) employed in the official media and other domains of cultural life, as well as the related practices of cultural consumption, namely, “reading between the lines,” represent prevailing practices of cultural opposition under political regimes who relied on severe censorship. Roughly defined, the technique implies encoding texts and demanding the public to interpret them, which eventually results in the emergence of an alternative or secondary public sphere.
This topic frequently emerges in the interviews stored at the RIRNM Documentation Centre too. However, the interview with poet Sándor Kányádi (1929–2018) is of special interest here because he nuances interpretations of “double speech” by claiming that alternative interpretations of particular works emerged even in cases when the writer did not intend to encode prohibited content in his/her own work.
Sándor Kányádi was probably the most popular contemporary Hungarian poet and translator from Romania. He was a major contributor to Hungarian children’s literature, and from 1960 until his retirement in 1990 he was an editor and writer at the children’s journal Napsugár. He was actively involved in the organization of cultural life, and he was a frequent guest of schools, libraries, and culture houses in Romania, and also in regions neighboring Romania and inhabited by Hungarians. The “homeland” and “mother tongue” represent key pillars of national identity in his work, as well as cornerstones of his professional credo. The public was as aware of his commitments, much as it was aware of the intolerance of the regime concerning issues of national minorities living in Romania. Under these conditions, the public presumed the employment of double speech, and identified encrypted messages concerning the situation of the Hungarian minority in all of Kányádi’s works. In the words of the poet: “ […] once it was attached to someone’s name that, say that we save schools, kindergartens, … than they [the public] searched something hidden all over the spaces in-between the lines” (“[…] ha egyszer valakinek a nevéhez hozzátapad, mondjuk olyasmi is, hogy iskolákat mentünk, óvodákat mentünk, … akkor minden sorában már valamilyen mögöttest keresnek.”)
- Kiss, Ágnes