Ayn Rand Atlas Society

The Fountainhead Comes to Hungary

In recent months, a group of enterprising Hungarians published the first edition of Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead in Hungary…with a little bit of help from The Atlas Society.

Previously, Ayn Rand's works had been virtually unknown in the former Soviet bloc nation. Only a single Rand novel had been published there, and was later banned by the communist regime after World War II. But with the collapse of the Iron Curtain, Rand's ideas inevitably penetrated the once-closed society.

In 2000, Balazs Ungi, a structural engineer, heard about The Fountainhead from a young Australian traveler. He jotted down the book's title, but didn't pursue it further at the time. However, a year later a visiting American enthusiastically recommended Rand's works to Balazs's long-time friend, Eniko Takacsy. An English teacher who also owns a small deposit company, she read The Fountainhead in the winter of 2001, then urged Balazs to do so.

"We love this book," they told The Atlas Society in a recent letter. Even though the pair had no background in publishing, Eniko decided "to translate and publish it in the quality it deserves."

She set about to translate the book, and to publish it through her own company, Path, with Balazs and Levente Lajko serving as the book's editors. Eniko soon came to an agreement with the book's literary agents for the Hungarian publishing rights. Then began a series of further negotiations with booksellers and agents over distribution arrangements. In April 2002, Eniko quit her fulltime job in order to devote more time to the arduous task of translating Rand's great novel from idiomatic English into her native tongue. She completed the first-draft translation last fall.

After that came the equally demanding task of editing and proofreading. At this point, Balazs discovered The Atlas Society's Web site, and contacted TAS for editorial assistance. TAS director Robert Bidinotto was happy to help the editors interpret problematic words, phrases, and American idioms. By late October 2002, the final draft was ready for the printers. The first edition came off the presses on November 21st.

The team whet public interest with its own pre-publication advertising campaign, including a Web site created by Levente: http://www.aynrand.hu/docs/effect.html. In November the first press article about Ayn Rand and The Fountainhead, by journalist Laszlo Seres, appeared in Népszabadság, one of Hungary's largest-circulation newspapers. Soon after, The Fountainhead—Hungarian title Az osforrás—appeared in bookshops.

"Now we can see we did a good job," Balazs and Eniko said in a recent message to Robert Bidinotto. "We hope to continue our work and publish other books from Ayn Rand. Next step: reading Atlas Shrugged."

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