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KAROLY KISFALUDY

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Originally appearing in Volume V15, Page 835 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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KAROLY KISFALUDY [CHARLES1 (1788-1830), Hungarian author, was born at The. near Raab, on the 6th of February 1788. His birth cost his mother her life and himself his father's of September 1772, educated at Raab, and graduated in philosophy and jurisprudence at Pressburg. He early fell under the influence of Schiller and Kleist, and devoted himself to the resuscitation of the almost extinct Hungarian literature. Disgusted with his profession, the law, he entered the Life Guards (1793) and plunged into the gay life of Vienna, cultivating literature, learning French, German and Italian, painting, sketching, assiduously frequenting the theatre, and consorting on equal terms with all the literary celebrities of the Austrian capital. In 1796 he was transferred to the army in Italy for being concerned with some of his brother officers of the Vienna garrison in certain irregularities. When Milan was captured by Napoleon Kisfaludy was sent a prisoner of war to Vaucluse, where he studied Petrarch with enthusiasm and fell violently in love with Caroline D'Esclapon, a kindred spirit to whom he addressed his melancholy Himfy Lays, the first part of the subsequently famous sonnets. On returning to Austria he served with some distinction in the campaigns of 1798 and 1799 on the Rhine and in Switzerland; but tiring of a military life and disgusted at the slowness of his promotion, he quitted the army in September 1799, and married his old love Roza Szegedy at the beginning of 1800. The first five happy years of their life were passed at Kam in Vas county, but in 1805 they removed to Sumeg where Kisfaludy gave himself up entirely to literature. At the beginning of the 19th century he had published a volume of erotica which made him famous, and his reputation was still further increased by his Reggie or Tales. During the troublous times of 1809, when the gentry of Zala county founded a confederation, the palatine appointed Kisfaludy one of his adjutants. Subsequently, by command, he wrote an account of the movement for presentation to King Francis, which was committed to the secret archives, and Kisfaludy was forbidden to communicate its contents. In 1820 the Marczebanya Institute crowned his Tales and the palatine presented him with a prize of 400 florins in the hall of the Pest county council. In 1822 he started the Aurora with his younger brother Karoly (see above). When the academy was founded in 1830 Kisfaludy was the first county member elected to it. In 1835 he resigned because he was obliged to share the honour of winning the academy's grand prize with Vorosmarty. After the death of his first wife (1832) he married a second time, but by neither of his wives had he any child. The remainder of his days were spent in his Tusculum among the vineyards of Sumeg and Somla. He died on the 28th of October 1844. Alexander Kisfaludy stands alone among the rising literary schools of his day. He was not even influenced by his friend the great critic Kazinczy, who gave the tone to the young classical writers of his day. Kisfaludy's art was self-taught, solitary and absolutely independent. If he imitated any one it was Petrarch; indeed his famous Himfy szerelmei (" The Loves of Himfy "), as his collected sonnets are called, have won for him the title of " The Hungarian Petrarch." But the passion of Kisfaludy is far more sincere and real than ever Petrarch's was, and he completely Magyarized everything he borrowed. After finishing the sonnets Kisfaludy devoted himself to more objective writing, as in the incomparable Reggie, which reproduce the scenery and the history of the delightful counties which surround Lake Balaton. He also contributed numerous tales and other pieces to Aurora. Far less successful were his plays, of which Hunyddi Janos (1816), by far the longest drama in the Hungarian language, need alone be mentioned. undying hatred. He entered the army as a cadet in 1804; saw active service in Italy, Servia and Bavaria (1805-1809), especially distinguishing himself at the battle of Leoben (May 25, 1809), and returned to his quarters at Pest with the rank of first lieutenant. It was during the war that he composed his first poems, e.g. the tragedy Gyilkos (" The Murder," 1808), and numerous martial songs for the encouragement of his comrades. It was now, too, that he fell hopelessly in love with the beautiful Katalin Heppler, the daughter of a wealthy tobacco merchant. Tiring of the monotony of a soldier's life, yet unwilling to sacrifice his liberty to follow commerce or enter the civil service, Kisfaludy, contrary to his father's wishes, now threw up his commission and made his home at the house of a married sister at Vorrock, where he could follow his inclinations. In 1812 he studied painting at the Vienna academy and supported himself precariously by his brush and pencil, till the theatre at Vienna proved a still stronger attraction. In 1812 he wrote the tragedy Kldra Zack, and in 1815 went to Italy to study art more thoroughly. But he was back again within six months, and for the next three years flitted from place to place, living on the charity of his friends, lodging in hovels and dashing off scores of daubs which rarely found a market. The united and repeated petitions of the whole Kisfaludy family failed to bring about a reconciliation between the elder Kisfaludy and his prodigal son. It was the success of his drama Ilka, written for the Fehervar dramatic society, that first made him famous and prosperous. The play was greeted with enthusiasm both at Fehervar and Buda (1819). Subsequent plays, The Voivode Stiber and The Petitioners (the first original Magyar dramas), were equally successful. Kisfaludy's fame began to spread. He had found his true vocation as the creator of the Hungarian drama. In May 182o he wrote three new plays for the dramatic society (he could always turn out a five-act drama in four days) which still further increased his reputation. From 1820 onwards, under the influence of the great critic Kazinczy, he learnt to polish and refine his style, while his friend and adviser Gyorgy Gaal (who translated some of his dramas for the Vienna stage) introduced him to the works of Shakespeare and Goethe. By this time Kisfaludy had evolved a literary theory of his own which inclined towards romanticism; and in collaboration with his elder brother Alexander (see below) he founded the periodical Aurora(1822),which he edited to the day of his death. The Aurora was a notable phenomenon in Magyar literature. It attracted towards it many of the rising young authors of the day (including Vorosmarty, Bajza and Czuczor) and speedily became the oracle of the romanticists. Kisfaludy's material position had now greatly improved, but he could not shake off his old recklessness and generosity, and he was never able to pay a tithe of his debts. The publication of Aurora so engrossed his time that practically he abandoned the stage. But he contributed to Aurora ballads, epigrams, short epic pieces, and, best of all, his comic stories. Kisfaludy was in fact the founder of the school of Magyar humorists and his comic types amuse and delight to this day. When the folk-tale became popular in Europe, Kisfaludy set to work upon folk-tales also and produced (1828) some of the masterpieces of that genre. He died on the 21st of November 1830. Six years later the great literary society of Hungary, the Kisfaludy Tdrsasdg, was founded to commemorate his genius. Apart from his own works it is the supreme merit of Kisfaludy to have revived and nationalized the Magyar literature, giving it a range and scope undreamed of before his time. The first edition of Kisfaludy's works, in to volumes, appeared at Buda in 1831, shortly after his death, but the 7th edition (Budapest 1893) is the best and fullest. See Ferule Toldy, Lives of the Magyar Poets (Hung.) (Budapest, 1870); Zsolt Beothy, The Father of Hungarian Comedy (Budapest, 1882) ; Tamas Szana, The Two Kisfaludys (Hung.) (Budapest, 1876). Kisfaludy's struggles and adventures are also most vividly described in Jokai's novel, Eppur si muove (Hung.).
End of Article: KAROLY KISFALUDY
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