Romani Studies

The concept of baxt in the bilingual short-story collection glücksmacher - e baxt romani by Samuel Mago and Károly Mágó

Romani Studies (2020), 30, (2), 217–241.


This article presents a close reading of the Romani characters and their actions in five stories by Viennese Romani writer and activist Samuel Mago and in two stories by his brother, Hungarian award-winning journalist Károly Mágó, in their bilingual Romani and German collection glücksmacher - e baxt romani. Brief biographies and an outline of the history of Roma and antiziganism in Austria provide background to textual analysis that focuses on how characters in the stories engender baxt/“Glück,” which means both happiness and luck. This dual meaning has inspired philosophical, psychological, economic, and anthropological studies, but literary scholars have rarely examined the concept in texts by Roma. For the protagonists in the brothers’ stories, happiness and luck become based less on monetary fortunes than on other means to live and survive in dark times of persecution and discrimination. The characters’ decisions unveil perceptions of baxt that rely largely on acquiring food, preserving and passing down family heirlooms, receiving an education, and freeing oneself and one’s family from persecution.

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