Online Encyclopedia

ARAN

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V02, Page 319 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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ARAN ISLANDS- events. Arany sent in his work, and shortly afterwards was awarded the 25-gulden prize (7th of February 1846) by the society, which then advertised another prize for the best Magyar epic poem. Arany won this also with his Toldi (the first part of the present trilogy), and immediately found himself famous. All eyes were instantly turned towards the poor country notary, and Petofi was the first to greet him as a brother. In February of the following year Arany was elected a member of the Kisfaludy Society. In the memorable year 1848 the people of Szalonta elected him their deputy to the Hungarian parliament. But neither now nor subsequently (1861, 1869) would he accept a parliamentary mandate. He wrote many articles, however, in the gazette Nepbardtja, an organ of the Magyar government, and served in the field as a national guard for eight or ten weeks. In 1849 he was in the civil service of the revolutionary government, and after the final catastrophe returned to his native place, living as best he could on his small savings till 185o, when Lajos Tisza, the father of Kalman Tisza, the future prime minister, invited him to his castle at Geszt to teach his son Domokos the art of poetry. In the following year Arany was elected professor of Hungarian literature and language at the Nagy-Koros gymnasium. He also attempted to write another epic poem, but the time was not favourable for such an under-taking. The miserable condition of his country, and his own very precarious situation, weighed heavily upon his sensitive soul, and he suffered severely both in mind and body. On the other hand reflection on past events made clear to him not only the sufferings but the defects and follies of the national heroes, and from henceforth, for the first time, we notice a bitterly humorous vein in his writings. Thus Boland Istbk, the first canto of which he completed in 185o, is full of sub-acrid merriment. During his nine years' residence at Nagy-Koros, Arany first seriously turned his attention to the Magyar ballad, and not only composed some of the most beautiful ballads in the language, but wrote two priceless dissertations on the technique of the ballad in general: " Something concerning assonance " (1854), and " On Hungarian National Versification " (1856). When the Hungarian Academy opened its doors again after a ten years' cessation, Arany was elected a member (15th of December 1858). On the 15th of July 186o he was elected director of the revived Kisfaludy Society, and went to Pest. In November, the same year, he started Szepirodalmi Figyelo, a monthly review better known by its later name, Koszeru, which did much for Magyar criticism and literature. He also edited the principal publications of the society, including its notable translation of Shakespeare's Dramatic Works, to which he contributed the Midsummer Night's Dream (1864), Hamlet and King John (1867). The same year he won the Nadasdy prize of the Academy with his poem "Death of Buda." From 1865 to 1879 he was the secretary of the Hungarian Academy. Domestic affliction, ill-health and his official duties made these years comparatively unproductive, but he issued an edition of his collected poems in 1867, and in 188o won the Karacsonyi prize with his translation of the Comedies of Aristophanes (188o). In 1879 he completed his epic trilogy by publishing The Love of Toldi and Toldi's Evening, which were received with universal enthusiasm. He died suddenly on the 24th of October 1882. The first edition of his collected works, in 8 volumes, was published in 1884-1885. Arany reformed Hungarian literature. Hitherto classical and romantic successively, like other European literatures, he first gave it a national direction. He compelled the poetry of art to draw nearer to life and nature, extended its boundaries and made it more generally intelligible and popular. He wrote not for one class or school but for the whole nation. He introduced the popular element into literature, but at the same time elevated and ennobled it. What Petofi had done for lyrical he did for epic poetry. Yet there were great differences between them. Petofi was more subjective, more individual; Arany was more objective and national. As a lyric poet Petofi naturally gave expression to present moods and feelings; as an epic poet Arany plunged into the past. He took his standpoint on tradition.3.19 His art was essentially rooted in the character of the whole nation and its glorious history. His genius was unusually rich and versatile; his artistic conscience always alert and sober. His taste was extraordinarily developed and absolutely sure. To say nothing of his other great qualities, he is certainly the most artistic of all the Magyar poets. See Posthumous Writings and Correspondence of Arany, edited by Laszlo Arany (Hung.), (Budapest, 1887–1889) ; article " Arany," in A Pallas Nagy Lexikona, Kot 2 (Budapest, 1893) ; Mbr Gaal, Life of Jdnos Arany (Hung.), (Budapest, 1898) ; L. Gyongyosy, Janos Arany's Life and Works (Hung.), (Budapest, 1901). Translations from Arany: The Legend of the Wondrous Hunt (canto 6 of Buda's Death), by D. Butler (London, 1881); Toldi, poeme en 12 chants (Paris, 1895) ; Dichtungen (Leipzig, 188o) ; Konig Buda's Tod (Leipzig, 1879); Balladen (Vienna, 1886). (R. N. B.)
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