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Imprinting Identities

Illustrated Latin-Language Histories of St. Stephen’s Kingdom (1488–1700)

Karolina Mroziewicz

The book demonstrates how illustrated printed books played an active role in identity-building processes in the Hungarian Kingdom. It shows the influence of Latin-language histories of Hungary in the areas of imagery of the Hungarian political community, visual representations of Hungarian patron saints, rulers, nobility and aristocracy. These books were and still are influential carriers of messages about the shared past. They were used as an important means of communication and as objects through which models of self- and collective identifications were imprinted. Their long afterlives, due to numerous editions, translations, adaptations and transpositions into other media, gradually unified the historical imagery, thus forming a key component for the identifications of the books’ recipients.
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1. Introduction

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1.1 Concepts and Research Problems

The winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1973, Konrad Lorenz, observed the instinctive behaviour of animals and noted that they are innately responsive to particular stimuli. Ducklings and goslings proved especially susceptible to a mechanism that resulted in trust in another animal, human or even an item (such as Lorenz’ famous gumboots), on which a very young bird fixes its attention. As a result of the earliest visual, auditory, or tactile experience this object was taken by them as a parent. As a consequence of ‘imprinting’, as Lorenz calls the process, these young animals regard themselves as belonging to the same species (or category of things) as their supposed mother or father. In these cases, ‘imprinting’ concerns the instinctive behaviour of organisms, which directly, and often irreversibly, affects their personal identity.

It has been argued that human children are also susceptible to various types of ‘imprinting’ which affects their mating and sexual preferences. The scholars in favour of this hypothesis claim that adults are likely to prefer partners resembling the individuals who reared them. Studying mating choices, they observed a physical similarity between the preferred partners and the opposite-sex parent.4

More pertinent for the following reflection, however, are those behavioural patterns which affect the mentality of adults. In this context ‘to imprint’ means to ‘to impress (a quality, character or distinguishing mark) on or in a person or thing.’5 Closely related to this...

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