It is a great honour to publish a volume of academic essays to celebrate György Schöpflin’s contribution to our intellectual wellbeing (using the date of his birthday is simply a pretext).
I was still a student and a penniless East European visitor to London when, in the summer of 1981, we met for the first time at one of the cosy streets of Hamstead.
Gyuri was accompanied by Mátyás Sárközy whom I knew from Budapest. We started a conversation like old friends about basically everything: the economic crisis in Hungary, the chances of Polish Solidarnosc and the world system theory of Immanuel Wallerstein. This conversation between us has continued ever since. Schöpflin is an intellectual in the broadest sense of the word with the expansive knowledge and curiosity about the world: his intellectual appetite encompasses literature (its hard to name an author he hasn’t read) food, politics (both global and local), history, languages, travels and jokes. His wit is accompanied with self-irony – and the readiness to deliberate, argue and contemplate. His endless curiosity brought him to Kőszeg when with Jody Jensen and Elemér Hankiss we began our international summer university program in the mid ’90s. He too fell in love with the foothills of the Alpes and supported the community and municipality of the picturesque town after becoming a member of the European Parliament with all possible means.
It is no accident that he has served as the president of iASK’s international advisory board since the beginning of the Institute’s existence.
The essays in this volume were written by younger and more senior members of iASK who reflect the continous conversations we have had with Gyuri and they focus on some of the most outstanding contributions of his academic ouvre: European integration, global change and above all: Central Europe. If you not only tolerate but enjoy disagreements you have to be Central European.
György (for some George) Schöpflin is a par exellence Central European intellectual with a Hungarian heart.
Schöpflin: A Central European Intellectual by Ferenc Miszlivetz