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“Freedom is the most that people can give themselves”

“Freedom is the most that people can give themselves”

Photographer:Fotograaf: Max Lakner

UM invites world-famous writer György Konrad

Freedom is “our biggest common treasure”, and a free person is able to play with life. This is, among other things, what the Hungarian writer György Konrad argues in his lecture ‘On liberty’, organised by Studium Generale.

Konrad (1933) knows what he is talking about. He was 11 when his parents were arrested by the Gestapo. They survived, but more than ten members of his family died. Among his Jewish classmates he was the only one who survived the Nazi occupation in Hungary. Ten years later, in 1956, he was lucky not to be arrested after taking part in the Hungarian Revolution. He refused to go into exile like many other intellectuals did, and was arrested in 1974. The police found a manuscript with him called Intellectuals on the Road to Class Power. But surprisingly, two years later, he was given permission to go to Germany to accept an academic position. In 1989, he wrote his best-known novel A Feast in the Garden.

In his lecture, he says: “The simple reality is that I’m still alive, even without pain; I have to be grateful for the fate.”

Konrad will speak about freedom – the theme of the Month of Philosophy – and what it means on a national and personal level. A free person, in his words, reflects happiness and is able to improvise, to play with life. A free person can overcome the constant, habitual agony and laugh about difficulties. Konrad remembers the words of a poet he admired as a child: “Freedom is the most that people can give themselves.”

According to Konrad, freedom is genuine “if it coincides with the destination of his biography, in other words, if it is the centreline of his life”. Those who are not free act in the way that is expected of them. They are afraid of being left out and forgotten.

 

Maurice Timmermans

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