The Invisible Shining

Balázs Apor

The Invisible Shining
The Cult of Mátyás Rákosi in Stalinist Hungary, 1945-1956

This book offers a detailed analysis of the construction, reception and eventual decline of the cult of the Hungarian Communist Party Secretary, Mátyás Rákosi, one of the most striking examples of orchestrated adulation in the Soviet bloc. While his cult never approached the magnitude of that of Stalin, Rákosi’s ambition to outshine the other “best disciples” and become the best of the best was manifest in his diligence in promoting a Soviet-type following in Hungary. The main argument of Balázs Apor is that the cult of personality is not just a curious aspect of communist dictatorship, it is an essential element of it.

The monograph is primarily concerned with techniques and methods of cult construction, as well as the role various institutions played in the creation of mythical representations of political fi gures. Separate chapters present visual and non-visual methods of cult construction.
The author engages with a wider international literature on Stalinist cults in an impressive manner. Apor uses the case of Rákosi to explore how personality cults are created, how such cults are perceived, and how they are eventually unmade. The book addresses the success—generally questionable—of such projects, as well as their uncomfortable legacies.

Balázs Apor is lecturer in European Studies at the Trinity College Dublin.

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