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Sándor Kisfaludy

Born at Suemeg, Hungary, 27 Sept., 1772; died at Suemeg, 28 October, 1844. He went to school at Raab and later studied philosophy and law at Presburg. In 1792 he gave up the study of law, and having joined the army, was appointed to the Hungarian lifeguards in Vienna. During his sojourn there he was especially attracted to the Hungarian writers living in Vienna at that time. In 1793 he was transferred to Italy, and stationed at Milan. After the surrender of that city to Napoleon in 1796, Kisfaludy was sent a prisoner of war to France, and confined in Provence, but was given his freedom the same year, went to Klagenfurt, and from there was transferred to the Wallis regiment and sent to Wuertemberg. He took part in the Rhine campaign in 1799, but sent in his resignation the same year. He married his early love, Rosa Szegedy, in 1800.

In 1802 Kisfaludy participated in the insurrection of the Hungarian nobles, as orderly officer to the Palatine, by whose command he later wrote an account of the uprising. He became a member of the Hungarian Academy in 1830, and was chosen an honorary member in 1835. He lost his wife in 1832 but later married again, shortly after which his second wife also died. The last years of his life were spent in his native town. Kisfaludy is particularly prominent as a lyric poet. His love-songs, which appeared under the name of "Liebeslieder Himfy's," the first part in 1801, the second in 1807, assured him an immense popularity among his associates. The songs revealed the influence of Rosa Szegedy's love, both before and after their marriage. The metrical rendering of his verses is that of the sonnet; they undeniably show the influence of his stay in Provence, and the impress of Petrarch's songs, and yet they are in no wise servile imitations of the latter. His "Maerchen aus der Ungarischen Vorzeit" is the best of his later works; he also tried the field of drama, but with little success.

(2) Károly Kisfaludy

Author, brother of the above; b. at Tét, 5 Feb., 1788; d. at Pesth, 21 Nov., 1830. He was the originator of the romantic tendency in the national Hungarian literature and comedy, also pioneer in the field of Hungarian novelwriting. His birth having cost his mother her life, he was brought up by his sister. He pursued his studies at Raab, but did not finish them as he, as well as his brother, chose a military career, taking part in the wars with Italy. He resigned his commission in 1811, causing a breach with his father, which, in spite of repeated attempts at reconciliation, was never healed; nevertheless he was not disinherited. Even during his military career, Kisfaludy assiduously cultivated literature, and henceforth he devoted himself to it. When he could no longer expect any pecuniary assistance from home, he earned his living as an artist in Vienna and Italy and, later, on his return to Hungary. At the same time his literary energy was not dormant. Besides poetry, he wrote plays and dramas. In 1818-19 he experienced not a little dramatic success. About this time he published his first work in the field of Hungarian comedy which likewise met with popular favour. He made up for his lack of early education by deep study; he became still more careful of his language, more modern, his productions little by little bearing evidence of this culture.

His style was rather romantic than classical, and not infrequently approached modern realism. His influence especially on the public, became ever greater so that in a certain sense he was the centre of the Hungarian literary life in Pesth. In 1821 he published the first volume of his annual "Aurora," the leading literary review of his time, which numbered the most prominent writers among its contributors. After Kolesey, he was the first to cultivate the ballad, he also wrote elegies, Italian verse, and national songs. Of his prose works, his humorous ones are better than the more serious, as his comedies are better than his dramas; the Hungarian novel also owes its ascendancy to him. An early death snatched him away in the midst of his literary activity. The Kisfaludy Society, so named in honour of him, was established in 1836, and is devoted to the cultivation of good literature. The Hungarian national theatre also honours him by giving yearly one of his plays. He survives not alone in his books, but much more in his personal influence over the writers of his day, whose leader and model he was, in this way proving himself of immortal service as the regenerator of Hungarian literature. Many editions of his works were issued by Franz Toldy, and one in six volumes by Banoczi (Budapest, 1893).

TOLDY, Lives of Hungarian Poets (Pesth, 1870), in Hungarian; SZINNYEY, Lives and Works of Hungarian Writers (Budapest, 1899), IV, 400-27, in Hungarian.


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