Hungarian Literature

Hungarian literature, prerequisites for the development of Hungarian literature were by 1000 on the grounds of the Hungarian kingdom by Stephen I given.

Middle Ages to Enlightenment

The evidence from nomadic times has been lost, but Finno-Ugric, Turkish and Scythian elements have been preserved in the folk poetry that was handed down later.

The earliest texts in Hungarian literature are translations of sacred texts from Latin, some of which are of considerable poetic quality (including hymns, prayers and the Old Hungarian Lamentation of Mary). The heyday of Latin poetry fell during the reign of King Matthias I Corvinus (1458–90); its most important representative was the humanist Janus Pannonius. However, one can speak of an independent Hungarian literature only from the end of the 15th century, especially after the Reformation.

Protestantism, supported by Hungarian theologians, who a.o. had studied in Wittenberg, spread in the vernacular. This resulted in a cultivation of the Hungarian language (grammars, dictionaries, the establishment of printing works and the like), and also opened up the possibility of literary expression of social dissatisfaction. After several partial translations of the Bible (Hussite-inspired translations as early as the early 15th century; New Testament, 1541), the complete translation by K. Károlyi appeared in 1590. For centuries it was the most widely read Hungarian book, its worldview-shaping and stylistic effect became decisive for education in Hungary. Among the numerous preachers, v. a. Péter Bornemisza (* 1535, † 1584)whose extensive collection of sermons (around 1580) is a rich document of contemporary Hungarian life. The work of his pupil B. Balassi, religious poetry influenced by Petrarkism, soldier and love songs, forms the climax of Hungarian Renaissance literature.

According to A2zdirectory, the leader of the Counter-Reformation, which determined intellectual life in Hungary from the middle of the 17th century, was P. Pázmány, an astute and eloquent Jesuit who created a new, baroque style in polemical writings. Important poets of the Hungarian Baroque were the general M. Zrínyi, author of a heroic epic based on ancient and Italian patterns, »The Fall of Sziget« (1651, German), and István Gyöngyösi (* 1629, † 1704), who made great court wedding songs Gained popularity. National self-confidence was expressed in the patriotic poems of the Kuruc, who designed anti-Habsburg themes and complaints about the devastation of the country in Baroque formal language.

Enlightenment and 19th century

The ideas of the Enlightenment in the age of the reigns of Maria Theresa and Joseph II also renewed literary life. The hub of French ideas was Vienna, where the Hungarian bodyguards of the court, at their head G. Bessenyei, promoted the dissemination of these ideas and the modernization of the Hungarian language and literature through translations and their own works (first independent magazine in the Hungarian language “Magyar Museum”, 1788-1793). The suppression of the conspiracy of the Hungarian Jacobins by Francis II (1794) ended the spread of the Enlightenment prematurely and turned the upcoming spiritual change into an ideologically neutral, purely literary movement. Bessenyei withdrew, and János Batsányi (* 1763, † 1845), a politically thinking writer, could not assert himself against the stylist and linguist F. Kazinczy, under whose leadership the supporters of the classicist style ideal prevailed. In addition to the peasant sluggishness, the orientation towards reality was also pushed out of Hungarian literature.

The poetry written by nobles in the following period was characterized by inwardness and class patriotism. Dániel Berzsenyi (* 1776, † 1836) wrote odes and elegies based on ancient patterns, F. Kölcsey wrote pessimistic and patriotic poetry, political and literary essays as well as significant reviews of literary history. On the other hand, M. Csokonai Vitéz combined elements of Rococo poetry, Rousseau sensibility and folklore in his poetry and in this way shaped the Hungarian attitude to life; he was honored only after his death. Also József Katona (* 1791, † 1830) remained with his Tyrannenmord drama “Banus Bánk” (1815, dt.) Life isolated while Sándor Kisfaludy (* 1772, † 1844) with his sentimental poetry and his brother K. Kisfaludy with his patriotic dramas found favor with the public.

As in the other countries of Eastern Europe, romanticism in Hungary was closely connected with the national liberation movements; the leading poet was initially M. Vörösmarty. His work met the expectations of the Hungarian society, which was strengthened in its national consciousness. The spirit of optimism in the Vormärz found its expression in the founding of numerous companies, magazines and the National Theater, also in the first realistic works (such as the novel “Der Dorfnotar”, 3 volumes, 1845; German) by J. Eötvös. S. Petőfi broke with the upscale style of the Estates Romanticism, who ushered in a new style epoch with his unconventional nature and situation poetry as well as his political and love poems. Next to Vörösmarty and Petőfi, J. Arany was the third major figure in this classic culmination of Hungarian literature. He brought popular poetry to perfection; His works were considered canon in official criticism for decades.

The failure of the revolution of 1848 and the problems of the beginning bourgeois age led to a disintegration of the traditional worldview and the traditional value system, reflected in literature through psychological differentiation (e.g. in the late poetry of Aranys), through images of doom and failure (late poem Vörösmartys, I. Madách’s dramatic poem “Die Tragödie des Menschen”, 1861; German). The pessimistic poet János Vajda (* 1827, † 1897) was the only poet after Petőfi to keep the revolutionary tradition alive. The historical novels of the conservative politician and publicist Zsigmond Kemény (* 1814, † 1875) are still in the romantic tradition.and that of M. Jókai, the dominant figure in Hungarian literature in the second half of the 19th century, who still shapes Hungarian history today. An ironic tone can be felt in the novels and anecdotes of K. Mikszáth, which (even if kept in a traditional style) also conveyed a socially critical message in a certain sense. The last popular, conservative narrator of the prewar period was G. Gárdonyi, who also revealed psychological and social awareness of problems in his marriage and romance novels.

Hungarian Literature

About the author