Take it with a pinch of salt. George Mikes, Hungarian-born English writer’s bon mot to satirize Hungarians’ obsession to brag with being Hungarian sounds like this in its full context:
”Everybody is Hungarian, and if he isn’t, then his father or his grandmother was.”
Mikes – who made fame as a popular English writer by his How to be an Alien, which proved a great success in post-war Britain – is a good example of the Hungarian paradox: you can make fame if you leave the mother country (very few did out of their own accord, most of them under economic pressure or political persecution). But then, when you have a reputed name, Hungary will embrace you again and claim the glory for the mother country.
The list of talents who gained international reputation is very long, starting with Nobel-prize winner scientists like Leo Szilárd, the father of the A-bomb, Hollywood icons like Michael Curtis, Bela Lugosi or the ill-famed Zsazsa Gabor to inventors like László Bíró, after whose last name the ball-point pen was named in Britain (without the accents).
To be born a Hungarian might be a luck or curse, but you can’t get rid of it. One’s heavy Hungarian accent and the diacritical mark in one’s name (Béla, Gábor, Bíró) can be dropped but all these celebrities can’t ever escape from the grip of the country they or their ancestors left behind. Like it or not, Magyarország will always be proud of her famous dissidents and anybody who inherited a Hungarian sounding name.
If you fall into the latter category (having a Hungarian name) and would like to learn more about your roots, please visit Fungarian’s latest scheme to assist people interested in their ancestors’ past: http://fungarian.hu/find-your-roots/
Those “unfortunate” who can’t claim Hungarian ancestry, the life-stories about Hungarians who contributed to American, Canadian, British and other cultures can be a good read in our FAMOUS HUNGARIANS section to have an idea why the people left behind in mother country Hungary are proud of them. See: http://fungarian.hu/category/hungarian-histories/
For the sake of the whole story of the “EVERYBODY IS HUNGARIAN” bon mot, here is the context of how George Mikes came to this conclusion:
“The simple truth is this: everybody is Hungarian.
This is a basic and irrefutable theorum like that of Pythagoras.”
“One day, I was explaining to my wife that I had just discovered that
the parents of Alfred Adler were Hungarian.”
“”So what?”, she said.”
“What do you mean, ‘so what?’?”
“I mean: why SHOULDN’T THEY be Hungarian. If you think of it, everybody is
“When my wife uttered her theorem I saw that, like Pythagoras’s,
it was TRUE and IRREFUTABLE.”