Imre Madách Analysis

Other Literary Forms

(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Imre Madách wrote numerous poems, most of which were published posthumously. Only a few, including one slim verse collection, Lantvirágok (1840; lyre blossoms), appeared in print during his lifetime. He wrote five prose tales of scant literary significance. His newspaper articles, essays, speeches, and parliamentary addresses give evidence of his broad educational background and impressive rhetorical ability.


(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

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.


(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Lotze, Dieter P. Imre Madách. Boston: Twayne, 1981. A basic examination of the life and works of Madách. Includes bibliography and index.

Madách, Imre. The Tragedy of Man: Essays About the Ideas and the Directing of the Drama. Budapest: Hungarian Centre of the International Theatre Institute, 1985. In addition to a translation by Joseph Grosz of The Tragedy of Man, this work contains a set of essays analyzing the play, discussing its reception, and describing and criticizing productions of the work. Contains bibliography.