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JANOS ARANY (1817-1882)

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Originally appearing in Volume V02, Page 318 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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JANOS ARANY (1817-1882), the greatest poet of Hungary after Petofi, was born at Nagy-Szalonta on the 2nd of March 1817, the son of Gyorgy Arany and Sara Megyeri; his people were small Calvinist yeomen of noble origin, whose property consisted of a rush-thatched cottage and a tiny plot of land. An only son, late born, seeing no companions of his own age, hearing nothing but the voices of his parents and the hymns and prayers in the little Calvinist chapel, Arany grew up a grave and gentle, but by no means an ignorant child. His precocity was remarkable. At six years of age he went to school at Szalonta, where he read everything he could lay his hands upon in Hungarian and Latin. From 1832 to 1836 Arany was a preceptor at Kis-Ujszallas and Debreczen, still a voracious reader with a wider field before him, for he had by this time taught himself French and German. Tiring of the monotony of a scholastic life, he joined a troupe of travelling actors. The hardships he suffered were as nothing compared with the pangs of conscience which plagued him when he thought of the despair of his father, who had meant to make a pastor of this prodigal son, to whom both church and college now seemed for ever closed. At last he borrowed sixpence from the stage-manager and returned home, carrying all his property tied up in a hand-kerchief. Shortly after his home-coming his mother died and his father became stone-blind. Arany at once resolved that it was his duty never to leave his father again, and a conrectorship which he obtained at this time enabled them to live in modest comfort. In 184o he obtained a notaryship also, and the same year married Juliana Ercsey, the penniless orphan daughter of an advocate. The next few happy years were devoted to his profession and a good deal of miscellaneous reading, especially of Shakespeare (he learnt English in order to compare the original with his well-thumbed German version) and Homer. Meanwhile the reactionaries of Vienna were goading the Magyar Liberals into revolt, and Arany found a safety-valve for his growing indignation by composing a satirical poem in hexameters, entitled " The Lost Constitution." The Kisfaludy Society, the great literary association of Hungary,' about this time happened to advertise a prize for the best satire on current
End of Article: JANOS ARANY (1817-1882)
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