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Post Offices of Europe 18th – 21st Century

A Comparative History


Edited By Muriel Le Roux and Sébastien Richez

The cursus publicus, established by the Roman Empire to connect all its conquered territories, may be considered to be the ancestor of all modern post offices. Therefore, mail service networks are part of an organization, dating from Antiquity, which is common to the entire European community.
From the 18 th century onwards, the French mail service network may be divided into three successive phases. First, the consolidation of the transportation system that was being set up. Second, the development of the system’s ability to deal with increasing traffic (through broader human resources). Thirdly, the diversification of its operations and the development of its technical modernisation.
What was the situation in other European countries? Are there similarities and differences in how their networks were set up and organized? Finally, how did European Post Offices cooperate with each other in spite of their differences?
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The Hungarian Post Office and Travel Narratives in the 18th and 19th Centuries: Éva Ring



The mail as a means of communication for sending messages, news, and travel has played an important role over the centuries. Literary references whose subjects are the main participants and methods of transmission, such as postmasters, clerks, letters, parcels, postilions, and post-chaises abound, proving the importance of an institution that enabled ideas, products and people to circulate freely. A broad study of national bibliographies confirms the theory that the history of the postal service is deeply integrated into the development of modern civilization. Pushkin, Tagor and Kotzebue are only three of the well-known authors who have dedicated their work to the subject of the mail.1 The famous novel by Gyula Krúdy, The Red Coach, is also among these countless literary works.2 An outstanding symbolist text (which was made into the film Szinbád [Sinbad] by Zoltán Huszárik in the early 1980s) narrates the life-long voyage of its main hero, the owner of the red coach. Count d’Alvinci’s travels (the author’s alter ego) through various Hungarian cities represent a symbolic pilgrimage through different historical periods. The name Szinbad, a figure of epic proportions whom the author invokes from time to time, confirms the illusion to the eternal voyage of humans between the earth and the transcendental realm during their lifetime. But the title of the novel, The Red Coach, is also symbolic.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the main mode of travel was by train. The characters in the novel,...

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