Most Hungarian critics consider Imre Madách their country’s greatest philosophical dramatist. This assessment is based almost exclusively on his most important play, The Tragedy of Man, frequently referred to as the “Hungarian Faust.” His other works are important mainly in their relation to his one masterpiece or as historical and biographical documents. The Tragedy of Man is rightly seen as the culmination of various trends of European Romanticism. The drama gives an overview of the history of humankind within a wider metaphysical framework. Madách’s work stands in the tradition of the poème d’humanité or Menschheitsdrama of the nineteenth century and shows the impact of various European writers and thinkers. Although the playwright chose a topic of universal significance and deliberately avoided specific references to his native culture, Hungarians have for many generations recognized the spirit of his drama as uniquely representative of their national experience. Since its first successful production at the Budapest National Theatre in 1883, it has remained a popular favorite on the Hungarian stage. Performances abroad as well as adaptations for radio and television in Europe and the United States, although frequently hampered by inadequate translations, have acquainted an international audience with Madách’s play. In 1981, it even stimulated an opera, Ein Menschentraum (a dream of man), by the West German composer Peter Michael Hamel, in which the playwright’s life and his drama are intertwined.