At the turn of the nineteenth century, Hungary was the site of a national awakening. While Hungarian-speaking Hungarians sought to assimilate Hungary's ethnic minorities into a new idea of nationhood, the country's Slavs instead imagined a proud multi-ethnic and multi-lingual state whose citizens could freely use their native languages. This vision of emergent nationalism was one in which multi-ethnicity was the cornerstone of a proud Hungarian national identity. When nationalism first arrived in Eastern Europe, the Slavs saw themselves as Hungarian citizens speaking Pan-Slav and Czech dialects - and yet were the origins of what would become in the twentieth century a distinct Slovak nation. How then did Slovak nationalism emerge from multi-ethnic Hungarian loyalism, Czechoslovakism and Pan-Slavism? Here Alexander Maxwell examines the story of how and why Slovakia came to be. He argues that the secret to Slovak nationhood begins with the history of Slovak literacy and secondary education. Most Slovaks described themselves as speakers of a Slavic language, but members of the influential Lutheran intelligentsia, including the celebrated poet Jan Kollr and the famed scholar Pavel A afa?k, saw themselves as both Slavs and Czechs. Similarly, Slovak intellectuals believed that a single language could have written 'dialects'. When ?udovt A tr and his colleagues developed a distinctly Slovak orthography in 1843, they imagined it as a uniquely Hungarian dialect of the Pan-Slavic language. After the First World War, the Czechoslovak schools taught a distinctly Slovak literary standard, presenting it as a dialect of the 'Czechoslovak language'. The resulting educated classes, however, rejected Czechoslovakism as they came to see themselves as a Slovak nation speaking a unique Slovak language. Slovak nationalism had emerged from unrequited Hungarian loyalism, ineffective Pan-Slavism, and counter-productive policies of Czechoslovak nation-building. In this examination of failed national projects, Maxwell shows how national identities are not only contingent, but may emerge from unforeseen circumstances.
Slavic Hungary, the Czechoslovak Language and Accidental Nationalism