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Religions 2018, 9(10), 320;

A Place of Pretense and Escapism: The Coffeehouse in Early 20th Century Budapest Jewish Literature

Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70803, USA
Received: 13 September 2018 / Revised: 7 October 2018 / Accepted: 16 October 2018 / Published: 18 October 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Jewish Secular Culture)
Full-Text   |   PDF [251 KB, uploaded 18 October 2018]


In Budapest, going to the coffeehouiennese Café and Fin-De-Siecle Cultuse was the quintessential urban habit. The coffeehouse, a Judaized urban space, although devoid of any religious overtones, was Jewish in that most of the owners and significant majority of the intellectual clientele were Jewish—secular and non-affiliated—but Jewish. The writers’ Jewishness was not a confessed faith or identity, but a lens on the experience of life that stemmed from their origins, whether they were affiliated with a Jewish institution or not, and whether they identified as Jews or not. The coffeehouse enabled Jews to create and participate in the culture that replaced traditional ethnic and religious affiliations. The new secular urban Jew needed a place to express and practice this new identity, and going to the coffeehouse was an important part of that identity. Hungarian Jewish literature centered in Budapest contains a significant amount of material on the coffeehouse. Literature provided a non-constrained and unfiltered venue for the secular Jewish urban intellectuals to voice freely and directly their opinions on Jewish life at the time. In the article I examine what the Jewish writers of the early 20th century wrote about Budapest’s coffeehouses and how their experience of them is connected to their being Jewish. View Full-Text
Keywords: Jewish Budapest; literature; coffeehouse; secular; rituals Jewish Budapest; literature; coffeehouse; secular; rituals
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Rethelyi, M. A Place of Pretense and Escapism: The Coffeehouse in Early 20th Century Budapest Jewish Literature. Religions 2018, 9, 320.

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