Critical Evaluation

(Essentials of European Literature)

The name of Mór Jókai is inseparably connected with the course of Hungarian history in the nineteenth century. He began his career as a writer largely through patriotic motives, and at one time he was exiled because his books were so highly regarded in the revolutionary circles of Hungarian Youth. Later, he served as a member of the Hungarian Parliament and in the House of Magnates. Although Hungarian was not a popular literary language, Jókai’s works were widely read and translated into many languages during his lifetime. Influenced chiefly by the Romantic writers of England and France, he excelled in the field of the imaginative romance, one which depended for its effect upon a wealth of incident and character, an involved plot mingling the ideal and the fantastic, and an idyllic, pastoral atmosphere. A MODERN MIDAS, the work of a master of storytelling and romantic atmosphere, is typical of Jókai at his best.

A MODERN MIDAS must be read within the context of Turkish-Hungarian political relations to make sense to the modern Western reader. Beginning with military campaigns in the late fourteenth century, the Turks established in the early fifteenth century a dictatorial occupation of Hungary which lasted until 1718. The cruel and barbarian Turkish rule so outraged Hungarians that, even in 1787, a retaliatory war against the Turks was launched. Given this animosity against the Turks, Hungarians in Jókai’s time, and to this day,...

(The entire section is 541 words.)