Hungarian literature is the body of written works primarily produced in Hungarian,〔(''Hungarian literature'' ), ''Encyclopedia Britannica'', 2012 edition〕 and may also include works written in other languages (mostly Latin), either produced by Hungarians or having topics which are closely related to Hungarian culture. While it was less known in the English-speaking world for centuries, Hungary's literature gained renown〔
Lóránt Czigány, (''A History of Hungarian Literature: from the earliest times to the mid-1970s'' ), Clarendon Press, 1984〕 in the 19th and 20th centuries, thanks to a new wave of internationally accessible writers like Mór Jókai, Antal Szerb, Sándor Márai, Imre Kertész and Magda Szabó.
==Earliest writings in Hungarian==
The beginning of the history of Hungarian language as such (the proto-Hungarian period) is set at 1000 BCE, when — according to current scientific understanding — the language had become differentiated from its closest relatives, the Ob-Ugric languages. No written evidence remains of the earliest Hungarian literature, but through folktales and folk songs, elements have survived that can be traced back to pagan times. Also extant, although only in Latin and dating from between the 11th and 14th centuries, are shortened versions of some Hungarian legends relating the origins of the Hungarian people and episodes from the conquest of Hungary and from campaigns of the 10th century.〔
In earliest times the Hungarian language was written in a runic-like script, although it was not used for literary purposes in the modern sense. The country switched to the Latin alphabet after being Christianized under the reign of Stephen I (1000–1038). There are no existing documents from the pre-11th century era. The Old Hungarian period is reckoned from 896 CE, when Hungarians conquered the Carpathian Basin, settled down and started to build their own state. Creation of the first extant written records followed soon after. The oldest written record in Hungarian is a fragment in the Establishing charter of the abbey of Tihany (1055) which contains several Hungarian terms, among them the words ''feheruuaru rea meneh hodu utu rea,'' ("up the military road to Fehérvár," referring to the place where the abbey was built). This text is probably to be read as ''Fehérü váru reá meneü hodu utu reá'' with today's spelling, and it would read as ''a Fehérvárra menő had() útra'' in today's Hungarian. The rest of the document was written in Latin.
The oldest complete, continuous text in Hungarian is ''(Halotti beszéd és könyörgés)'', a short funeral oration written in about 1192–1195, moving in its simplicity.〔 The oldest poem is ''Ómagyar Mária-siralom'' (the Lamentations of Mary), a free translation from Latin of a poem by Godefroy de Breteuil.〔 It is also the oldest surviving Uralic poem. Both the funeral sermon and the Lamentations are hard to read and not quite comprehensible for modern-day Hungarians, mostly because the 26-letter Latin alphabet was not sufficient to represent all the sounds in Hungarian before diacritic marks and double letters were added.
During the Middle Ages and well into the Renaissance, the language of writing was mostly Latin. Important documents include the ''Admonitions of St. Stephen,'' which includes the king's admonitions to his son Prince Imre.
Among the first chronicles about Hungarian history were Gesta Hungarorum ("Deeds of the Hungarians"), by an unknown author, and Gesta Hunnorum et Hungarorum ("Deeds of the Huns and the Hungarians") by Simon Kézai. Both are in Latin. These chronicles mix history with legends, so historically they are not always authentic. Another chronicle is the ''Képes Krónika'' (Illustrated Chronicle), which was written for Louis the Great.
Further, Rogerius's 13th century work was published with János Thuróczy's chronicle in the late 15th century. In Split (now a part of Croatia) Thomas of Spalato wrote on local history, with much information on Hungary in the 13th century. At that time Dalmatia and the city of Split were part of the Kingdom of Hungary.
The 15th century saw the first translations from the Bible. Two Transylvanian preachers, Thomas and Valentine, followers of the Bohemian religious reformer Jan Hus, were responsible for this work, of which the prophetic books, the Psalms, and the Gospels have survived. A great part of the vocabulary created for the purpose is still in use.〔
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