Every one of the Fellows at the Kluge Center gives a presentation concerning their research while they are at the Library of Congress. Not every one of the Center’s Fellows also appears, however, on an internationally popular television series. BMI-Kluge Fellow Peter Zilahy is an exception.
Zilahy was featured on the award-winning CNN program “Parts Unknown“ when the show’s host, Anthony Bourdain, made a recent visit to Budapest, Hungary, to explore the rich culture and culinary delights of Peter’s native city. During the program, Peter explained the geography and history of Hungary’s capital city and, over a meal with Bourdain in the famous New York cafe, discussed the spectacular cultural scene of pre-war Budapest.
Back at the Kluge Center, Zilahy also gave a well-attended public lecture entitled “Do We Mean What We See?” that took place in the old Manuscript Room, one of the Library’s beautifully decorated lecture halls in the Thomas Jefferson Building. This was an updated version of a talk he gave at a philosophy conference in Budapest containing ideas on post-literacy in relation to the late works of Ludwig Wittgenstein. Péter Zilahy with a number of his Kluge colleagues also attended a colloquium on trauma, where he gave a presentation on how humor can help to cope with loss.
Péter Zilahy is primarily known as a writer and he came to the Kluge Center as a researcher to use the Library’s extensive collections. His seven month’s tenure has also been unique because of two performances. The first was held on December 8, 2014, when he read both poetry and excerpts from his novel “The Last Window Giraffe.” These readings were woven together with musical interludes played by another Kluge Fellow, the composer and musicologist Elia Corazza, and by a special guest, the concert soprano Sofia Soloviy. Their performance was in the Coolidge Auditorium, a venue that has hosted legendary talents as diverse as the singer-composer Paul Simon and the dancer Martha Graham, who debuted Aaron Copland‘s “Appalachian Spring” on its stage.
The second performance was by request at the home of the British Deputy Head of Mission, who hosted a garden party to honor the Kluge Center’s fifteenth anniversary celebration (#ScholarFest) and our nine year partnership with the Research Councils of the United Kingdom (a program that has brought over two hundred doctoral researchers from British universities to the Kluge Center). Zilahy, Corazza and Soloviy teamed up again and were joined this time by fiddler Deirdre Ní Chonghaile, a former Alan Lomax Fellow at the Kluge Center – the four representing well the international aspect of the Kluge Center being from Hungary, Italy, the Ukraine and Ireland respectively.
That international flavor and collegial approach to scholarship is well summed up in the words written on a scroll presented to the Kluge Center at that very event. ”A chain of wisdom: a gathering of scholarship.”