The subject of the first chapter is Count József Gvadányi, an aristocrat of Italian origins who spent forty years as a cavalry officer before becoming a prolific author in his sixties. Largely forgotten today, Gvadányi was one of the most popular authors of the 1790s. He churned out biographies, military studies, and long, narrative poems. An analysis of the poetry reveals Gvadányi to be a careful observer of northeastern Hungary. The count was supportive of upward mobility through education and largely sympathetic to the diverse peoples who lived in the region (although Jews have no place in his literary landscapes). In this way, Gvadányi's writings begin to construct the "myth of the provinces": namely, the belief that Hungary had great untapped economic potential and that its different peoples lived in relative harmony. Later chapters take apart and add to this myth.
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