Death: 12 Apr 1996 in Sydenham, Oxfordshire, England
Name: George Frederick Cushing
Birth: 17 Feb 1923 in Sheringham, Norfolk, England
Cushing, George Frederick (1923?1996), Hungarian scholar, was born in Holway Road, Sheringham, Norfolk, on 17 February 1923, the son of George Irvine James Cushing, United Methodist minister, and his wife, Mary Emily, née Hutchinson. He was educated as a foundation scholar at Nottingham high school, before going in January 1942 to Emmanuel College, Cambridge, where he was awarded a major scholarship to read classics, but his university studies were interrupted in June 1942 when he joined military intelligence. He served in Egypt, Syria, and the Lebanon, where he acquired fluency in Turkish and a working knowledge of Arabic and Kurdish. In later life he rarely discussed his wartime career, other than to complain of malaria and camels. In 1943 he was sent to learn Hungarian at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University of London, but on completion of the course he returned to active service in the Middle East. In 1946 he resumed his studies at Cambridge, before graduating with an upper second in classics in 1947.
Title: George Frederick Cushing (1923 - 1996)
In May 1947 Cushing was appointed assistant lecturer in Hungarian language and literature at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, where he remained for the rest of his academic career. In October 1947 he enrolled as a PhD student at the Eötvös College, Budapest, witnessing at first hand the final stages of the communist takeover of Hungary. His teachers at the college included the eminent Hungarian linguist Dezs? Pais and the literary historian János Horváth. He was expelled from Hungary in 1949 and his notes were confiscated (but he had made duplicates). He returned to the School of Slavonic and East European Studies and completed in 1952 at the University of London his PhD thesis, ?Széchenyi, Kossuth and national classicism in Hungarian literature?. He was appointed to a full lectureship in 1950, a readership in 1967, and a personal chair in 1978. He was head of the school's department of east European languages and literature in 1976?9 and 1983?6, and served as acting director of the school in 1979?80. He retired in 1986, after which he was made an emeritus professor.
Cushing's principal contribution to Hungarian literature was as a translator. His translations include Gyula Illyés's People of the Puszta (1967; originally Puszták népe) and his biography of Pet?fi (1973), a collection of studies by Endre Ady (The Explosive Country, 1977), a selection of short stories by Zsigmond Móricz (Seven Pennies, 1988), Géza Gárdonyi's Eclipse of the Crescent Moon (1991, originally Egri csillagok), and Margit Kaffka's Colours and Years (1999, originally Szinek és évek). Cushing's literary translations were marked by a lucidity of style and a precision of vocabulary. His work of translation extended, however, well beyond literature. His long contribution to Doreen Warriner's Contrasts in Emerging Societies (1965) brought together travelogues, memoirs, political speeches, statistics, and reports on society, education, and the economy in nineteenth-century Hungary. In 1975 he translated and adapted from the Hungarian Péter Hajdú's Finno-Ugrian Languages and Peoples (originally Finnugor népek és nyelvek), which cemented a long-held interest in Hungarian linguistics and, in particular, the early history of the Hungarian language.
Cushing published extensively in academic journals on aspects of Hungarian literature and language. These included several contributions to the Slavonic and East European Review, most notably his ?Books and readers in eighteenth-century Hungary? (1969) and ?The desiderative in Hungarian? (1963), which analysed one set of suffixes in Hungarian syntax, and in the journal Folklore a study of the bear in Ob-Ugrian legend (1977). Although for a long time unable to visit Hungary, he was from the 1970s onwards frequently invited to publish and lecture there, surprising audiences with his absolute mastery of the Hungarian language and its idioms. He was awarded several distinctions, including the Pet?fi medal for literature (1973), the Ady medal for literature (1978), and the republic of Hungary's order of merit medium cross (1993).
Cushing was, according to another distinguished Hungarian scholar, Laszlo Peter, ?the scholar who in his time did more for Hungarian studies outside Hungary than anyone else? (The Independent, 29 April 1996). Clubbable and a skilled raconteur, witty and hugely informed, he was also retiring and discreet. True to the family tradition, he remained a strong Methodist throughout his life, and was an elder of Chislehurst Methodist Church, where he also played the organ with considerable accomplishment. He served on a number of committees ranging from Bromley education committee to the Methodist International Committee. He was after his retirement president of the British?Hungarian Fellowship in London. After joining the School of Slavonic and East European Studies he lived mostly in Kent, first in Sevenoaks and then in Chislehurst. He died at St Christopher's Hospice at 51 Lawrie Park Road, Sydenham, on 12 April 1996, of prostate cancer after a long illness. A funeral followed by a service of thanksgiving was held at Chislehurst Methodist Church on 25 April 1996, after which he was cremated. He never married.
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
Obituary: Professor George Cushing
George Cushing will probably be remembered as the scholar who in his time did more for Hungarian studies outside Hungary than anyone else.The son of a Methodist minister, he was educated at Nottingham High School as a Foundation Scholar before going up to read Classics at Emmanuel College, Cambridge in 1942. He finished his studies only in 1947 because during the Second World War years he served in the Special Operations Executive (SOE) and was stationed in the Middle East. It was the war that gave this talented linguist the opportunity to expand into Oriental languages - as Classics scholars frequently do - and take up Arabic, Turkish and Hungarian.
Cushing's military service included the Hungarian course at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES), at London University. This was the institute to which he returned as a lecturer in 1947 to spend a lifetime in academic work. He retired as a professor in 1986.
George Cushing acquired deep knowledge in a very wide area: his mastery of the Hungarian language, most periods of its literature and the country's whole history and culture was a source of astonishment in Hungary, which he frequently visited and where he had many close friends. His affinity with Hungarian culture was not however that of the proverbial Englishman who, besotted with a faraway nation, could find no fault with it. He possessed a sharp, detached, critical mind. He spoke Hungarian, a "hard language", on a native level, a considerable feat for an Englishman.
His scholarly contribution included linguistics; his 1963 paper "The Desiderative in Hungarian" is one example. The Finno-Ugrian Languages and Peoples (1975), an adaptation of Professor Peter Hajdu's Hungarian work of 12 years previously, but partly based on original research, is a standard work of reference. Cushing's studies in literary history mainly concerned the modern periods. He wrote his doctorate on national Classicism in the context of Szechenyi's and Kossuth's politics in the mid-19th century.
This work spawned fine essays that appeared in the Slavonic and East European Review and a major biography of Hungary's greatest 19th- century poet, Sndor Petofi (again an adaptation). English travellers' writings on the Habsburg monarchy, Hungarian memoirs and cultural traditions in Transylvania were particularly close to Cushing's interests. His writing was never facile; it was based on reflective judgement and the subject was presented in concise, lucid prose.
George Cushing had many rather old-fashioned and daring academic and personal qualitites. He was an enthusiastic teacher, most generous with his time (a rare quality among today's academics) to students and visitors wanting to find out something on which he possessed a storehouse of knowledge.
A college man, clubbable, kind, helpful and amusing, Cushing had absolute integrity. In an interregnum between two directors at SSEES he was the natural choice to be Acting Director for the 1979-80 academic session. Although essentially a private man, he served on a large number of public and social bodies, ranging from learned societies in Hungary to Bromley Education Committee and the British Association for Central and Eastern Europe. He was president of the British-Hungarian Fellowship and of the British Hungarian Society. A religious man, he was an elder of the Methodist Church; his recreation was organ playing.
George Frederick Cushing, Hungarian scholar: born Sheringham, Norfolk 17 February 1923; Assistant Lecturer in Hungarian Language and Literature, School of Slavonic and East European Studies, London University 1947-53, Lecturer 1953-67, Reader 1967-78, Professor 1978-86 (Emeritus); died Sydenham 12 April 1996.
The Independent, 26 Mar 2013
Father: George Irvine James Cushing Rev b: 1896 in Shipdham, Norfolk, England
Mother: Mary Emily Hutchinson b: Abt 1900 in England