Madách'sTragedy of Man and the tradition of the “Poème d'Humanité” in European literature
Post on 16-Aug-2016
DIETER P. LOTZE
MADACH'S TRAGEDY OF MAN AND THE TRADIT ION OF THE "POEME D 'HUMANIT I~" IN EUROPEAN L ITERATURE
Rather than attempting to present a completely new interpre- tation of Mad~tch's drama, this study will try to place it in a wider framework of European literary trends by laying the emphasis on the genre Mad~ch used so effectively. 1 One of the goals of this approach is to show that Imre Mad~ch was both European and Hungarian in his outlook. This is, of course, not a totally new and original insight, but this paper was conceived as mainly a status report on one important area of Mad~ch studies.
Ever since Arany took a first, not very careful 10ok at the manuscript o f Mad~ich's Az ember tragddidja (The Tragedy of Man) and decided that it was yet another imitation of Goethe's Faust, much of the discussion of the work has focused on its relationship to this German drama; and, depending on the critic's point of view, Madgtch appeared either as an imitator, as a devoted disciple of Goethe's, as being influenced by h im in some general way, or as totally independent. Perhaps it was inevitable that German reviewers stressed from the very beginning Madgtch's alleged dependence on Goethe as a model. The first published reviews in German journals referred to
Thus, I will not try to answer the question as to whether Madhch's drama constitutes a true tragedy or is essentially salvationistic. Perhaps a study of Geothe's Faust, labeled a "Tragedy" by the poet, will show that these concepts are not necessarily mutually exclusive, as Thomas R. Mark will have it in his interesting study, "The Tragedy of Man" Salva- tion or Tragedy?" Acta Litteraria Aeademiae Scienartium Hungaricae, 15 (1973), 291--308.
236 DIETER P. LOTZE
The Tragedy o f Man as "a Hungarian Faustiad" and called Madhch "the Hungarian Faust author. ''2 When the play was first performed in Vienna in 1892, the well-known critic Eugen Zabel claimed that Mad~tch's entire way of thinking and feeling could be traced back to a Goethe imitation. 3 But even more recent studies emphasized the Faust parallels. In 1957, Otto zur Nedden subtitled his paper on Mad~ich's play "Eine ungarische 'Faust'-Dichtung" (A Hungarian "Faust" poem), 4 and as late as 1973, Giinther Mahal wrote an article on "Bemerkungen zum 'Ungarischen Faust ' " (Remarks on the Hungarian "Faust"). ~
J. W. Smeed, in his book on Faust in Literature, went even one step further. He gave the title of Mad~tch's play in German and took all quotations from Ludwig D6czi's 1891 German translation, pointing out in his preface: "Quotations are given in the original language, except in the cases of A. Tolstoi and Imry [sic] Mad~ich. Here, since one of the main points made is the link with Goethe's Faust, I have quoted from German translations rather than in English. ''6
Of course it would be foolish to deny that there are very clear parallels, both in general themes and in details. A Hungarian scholar, Vilma Pr6hle, listed 44 literal correspondences (even
2 Anon., "Der ungarische Faustdichter El~aerich Mad~ich", Illustrierte Zeitung (Leipzig), 1864, p. 356; Gottschall, Rudolf, "Eine ungarische Faustiade," Bllitter fiir die literarisehe Unterhaltun9, 1865, p. 540.
a "Die Trag6die des Menschen yon Mad~ich", Zur modernen Drama- turoie II: Studien und Kritiken iiber das ausliindische Theater (Oldenburg- Leipzig, 1899), pp. 212--16.
4 Imre Maddeh "'Die TrayOdie des Menschen": Eine ungarische Faust- Dichtun#, Beitr~ige zur Duisburger Theatergeschichte, 5 (Duisburg, 1957).
5 "Bemerkungen zum 'Ungarischen Faust': 'Die Trag/Sdie des Men- schen' von Imre Mad~ich." Ansichten zu Faust: Karl Theens zum 70. Geburtstag," ed. Gfinther Mahal (Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 1973), pp. 131--68.
6 University of Durham Publications (London-- New York-- Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1975), p. v.
~f-At)~CH AND THE "POEME D'HUMANITE" 237
thought some of those are rather superficial) 7 and any student of Mad/Lch and Goethe could add to that list. But in general, Hungarian critics have tended to play down any connections between the two works. Grza Voinovich, in his very detailed study of Mad~ch's work, 8 attempted to show the complete originality of the play, and Igmic Kont, in his history of Hun- garian literature, went as far as to refer to Mad~ich's acquaint- ance with Humboldt's works for example without even men- tioning Goethe?
The question remains as to how much either of those positions can help us in our appreciation of The Tragedy o f Man and its position in world literature. Influence studies are of some value, to be sure, but if we stop at just demonstrating that one author was familiar with works of another author, and that this acquaintance left certain traces behind, we have not really accomplished much. Unfortunately, for decades, much of Madfich scholarship has been limited to just such investigations, probing into the writer's familiarity with the works of Hans Christian Andersen, Ludwig Biichner, Byron, Dante, Democri- tus-Weber, Hegel, Heine, Victor Hugo, Wilhelm Jordan, Kant, Lamartine, Lamennais, Luther, Milton, Shelley, Soumet, Vigny, and others.
More productive, then, appears the attempt to look at Mad~tch's work, not with the intent of pinpointing the influence of any one writer or any one book, but rather in order to relate the greatest Hungarian philosophical drama of the 19th century to the European literary and philosophical landscape of that time. For Western Europe, the middle of the century marked - as Brla Nrmeth phrased it in the title of a recent article - the "D/immerstunde der Romantik - im Schatten des Positivis-
? Az ember trayddidja ds a Faust (Budapest, 1929), especially pp. 101- 14.
s Madtich Imre ds Az ember trag~ditija (Budapest: Franklin T~irsulat, 1914).
9 Geschichte der ungarischen Litteratur, Die Litteraturen des Ostens in Einzeldarstellungen, 3 (Leipzig: C. F. Amelang, 1909), pp. 218--22.
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mus", the dusk of Romanticism in the shadow of Positivism. a~ Romanticism had run its course in Germany and England, whereas France was the scene of the contest between Romantic tendencies, represented by the older generation of Hugo, Lamartine, Musset and Chateaubriand, and the newly emerging Realistic movement, marked by the novels of Balzac and Flaubert. 1~ Thus, the period we are dealing with was one of competing tendencies in European literature. That this struggle applied to Hungarian literature as well seems obvious, even though West European trends reached Hungary with some delay, and the political events of the time left a unique imprint on her literature.
One of the favorite poetic genres of the Romantic period, especially in France, was the pokme d'humanit~, the attempt to show the development of mankind through one or more of its outstanding representatives in dramatic or epic form, trying to find an answer to the question that has plagued mankind from the beginnings of civilization: "What is man's purpose on earth?" In the preface to one of the outstanding examples of the genre, Victor Hugo's La L~gende des sikcles, the author sums up his objectives: "Exprimer l'humanit6 dans une esptce d'oeuvre cyclique; la peindre successivement et simultantment sous tous ses aspects, histoire, fable, phi!osophie, religion, science, les- quels se rtsument en un seul et immense mouvement d'ascension vers la lumitre; faire apparaltre dans une sorte de miroir sombre et c la i r . . , cette grande figure une et multiple, lugubre et rayonnante, fatale et sacrte, l 'Homme. . . ,,~2 ("To express
lo Acta Litteraria, 15 (1973), 81--121; similarly in his article, "A la recontre de deux 6poques (A propos de l'anniversaire de Mad~tch)", Acta Litteraria, 15 (1973), 271--89.
al I do not want to get into a discussion of the definition of "Roman- ticism" at this point. I cannot, however, accept Jacques Barzun's equation of "Romanticism" and "Realism", as in his Romanticism and the Modern Ego (Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1943), pp. 81 ft.
12 La LOgende des siOeles, I, (Euvres completes de Victor Hugo (Paris: J, Hetzel, n. d.), pp. 3--4.
MADACH AND THE '.POI~ME D'HUMANITI~" 239
mankind in a type of cyclic work; to paint it successively and simnltaneously, in all its aspects, history, fable, philosophy, religion, science, which amount to one single and immense upward movement towards the light; to make appear in a sort of mirror, both dark and bright, . . . that great figure, both unique and manifold, dismal and radiant, fatal and holy: Man . . . ")Certainly Lamartine, but probably also Quinet, Vigny, and Soumet would have accepted this as a summary of some of their literary production, and, except for the degree of optimism expressed here, Hugo's words are an apt description of Mad~ch's Tragedy. As Wilhelm Hoegen, one of the first to treat the poOme d'humanit~ or Menschheitsdichtung as a distinct genre, pointed out in his book, Die Menschheitsdichtunyen der franz6sischen Romantiker, this idea of treating the history of mankind in extensive poems was somehow in the air at that time. 13 The Romantic preoccupation with the individual as well as with universality, with history and with metaphysical ques- tions, led almost inevitably to the development and refinement of a genre whose roots may be seen in medieval chronicles and epics, but even more in Dante's Divine Comedy, Milton's Para- dise Lost, and Goethe's Faust.
A number of scholars have pointed out in the past how well Mad~ch's drama fits into this genre. In 1930, L~szl6 Juh~tsz called Mad~tch "a disciple of French Romanticism" and discus- sed in detail the Hungarian author's familiarity with French literature, especially with the writings of Hugo, Lamennais, and Lamartine, even though his claim that Lamartine's impact on Mad~tch equals that of Goethe is open to question. 14 A 1941 German dissertation, by Wolfgang Margendorff, 15 counts
13 Die Menschheitsdichtungen der franz6sichen Romantiker Vigny, Lamartine, Hugo (Darmstadt, 1908), p. 148.
14 Un disciple du romanticisme fran9ais: Madc~ch et La Trag~die de l'Homme, Etudes Frangaises publi6es par l'Institut Fran~ais de l'Univer- sit6 de Szeged, 4 (Szeged, 1930).
is lmre Madcgch "Die Trag6die des Menschen", Diss. Jena 1941, Das Nationaltheater, 7 ((WOrzburg: Konrad Triltsch, 1943), p. 1.
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Mad~ich's Tragedy among the "great dramatic world poems", together with Goethe's Faust, Ibsen's Peer Gynt and Emperor and Galilean, and Wagner's Ring of the Nibelung, but Margen- dorff did not proceed to any systematic discussion of this genre and the parallels between the dramatic works he listed. This approach, however, was taken one year later by J~inos Barta in his monograph. 16 He sees Goethe as setting a new trend by creating the Faustian hero who rebels against estab- lished order and who demands his part of creation. Madfich's Adam is considered the last of these rebels. While emphasizing the importance of the mythological framework for the pokme d'humanitd, Barta points out two characteristic features to be found in this genre: Through a series of dreams, apparitions or visions, the great problems faced by mankind are presented, usually in chronological order; and the hero or protagonist undergoes a number of role changes during the work. It is easy to see how these features apply to Mad~ch's drama which Barta rightly sees not as an imitation of French pokmes d'huma- nitd but rather as the realization of their potentialities. 17 Istwln S6t6r, in his 1955 inaugural address before the Hungarian Academy of Sciences strongly supported Barta's categorization of Mad~ich's work and tried to show additional European parallels, is In my own Mad~ich thesis, I repeatedly stressed the importance of placing The Tragedy of Man in the general frame- work outlined here, even though my main thrust went in a different direction. 19 The most thorough treatment of the podme d'humanit~ and Madgtch's utilization of the genre was presented in the 1972 dissertation of Enik6 Moln~ir Basa who presented an excellent summary of the pertinent research to date and dealt in detail with the relevant works of Shelley, Byron, Lamartine,
16 Maddch Imre (Budapest: Franklin T~irsulat, 1942). 17 Barta, pp. 104--107. 18 " Imre Mad~tch", Acta Litteraria, 1 (1957), 27--85; 19 "Mad~tchs 'TragSdie des Menschen' in der Begegnung mit der
deutschen Geisteswelt: Studien zu einem Kapitel der Weltliteratur- geschichte". Diss. Innsbruck 1961.
MADACH AND THE "POI~ME D'HUMANITI~" 241
and Hugo. s~ Her discussion of Dante's, Milton's and Goethe's influence on the development of this 19th century genre is of special importance. After discussing the similarities between Byron's Cain and Manfred, Shelley's Prometheus Unbound, Lamartine's La Chute d'un ange, Hugo's La L~gende des si~cles, and Madfich's Tragedy of Man, she concludes: "The affinity is due partly to the debt owed by all of these poems to Paradise Lost and Faust in both form and theme. Yet, the analogies are not extensive for each poet follows his own beliefs and chooses his own style of expression. ''21
Dante's Divine Comedy can rightly be seen as a forerunner. In this epic, we have many of the features that appear in the 19th century works as well. The extra-human framework is clearly established. Through visions, man obtains the answer to his eternal question. Historical personages are presented as examples of human folly and vice, wisdom and virtue. Woman
- Beatrice - guides searching man, and through her, divine love and mercy become tangible. But even though Dante en- counters high representatives of the church, even popes being punished in the Inferno, the poet's basic religious world view is intact. Heaven and earth, world of God and domain of man still form a wonderful oneness, allowing even for a positive role for pre-Christian antiquity.
In Milton's Paradise Lost, the absoluteness of medieval faith is gone. The epic is steeped in traditional Christian belief, to be sure, but the question as to the function of evil in a world God created is asked much more forcefully. Satan emerges as the real hero of the work, a feature that was to have much impact on later works. As in Dante's work, we have one man represent- ing humanity, in this case Adam, the first man. His desire to become like God, based on the promise of the Biblical serpent,
20 "The Tragedy o f Man as an Example of the Po6me d'Humanit6: An Examination of the Poem by Imre Mad~ich with Reference to the Relevant Works of Shelley, Byron, Lamartine and Hugo", Diss. Uni- versity of North Carolina 1972.
21 Basa, p. 133.
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will be echoed in Romantic rebels all the way to Mad~ich's protagonist. But when shown the future in a vision, Milton's Adam realizes that it is not for man to know what Providence has in store.
In Goethe, we have the dramatic rather than the epic mode for the presentation of the confrontation of God, Satan, man, and the world. But Faust, much more so than the poems of Dante and Milton, is the drama of one individual. Even though Faust himself voices the desire to enjoy within his inner self that which is allotted to all of mankind, he remains the exceptional man rather than the undisputed representative of all of human- ity. And Goethe's drama is essentially ahistorical, in spite of some hints at specific events, personalities, or periods. Yet, the questions asked by Dante and Milton demand answers in this play as well. And again, man's struggle is imbedded in a trans- cendental confrontation between the Lord and his rebellious angel, And as in Milton, Evil is depicted in its dual role of God's adversary and His tool.
Despite Goethe's vocal rejection of what he considered "Romantic", his works, especially Faust, represented the single most powerful poetic influence on 19th century Romanticism and thus on the pokme d'humanitd. Nowhere is that influence as obvious as in Byron, even though this was hotly disputed by the English author. But his Manfred is certainly a Faustian hero, sharing with his model the desire to go beyond the limits set for man's knowledge and experience. This quest leads - as in Faust and other Romantic heroes - to his sin, his downfall. He is isolated from his society as is Faust who is surrounded by people incapable of comprehending his drive. But in Byron, this isolation is part of a feeling of despair, of "Weltschmerz" that is rare in Goethe's play. Byron's drama ends with Man- fred's death, Goethe's with Faust's salvation. In Cain, we have again the Faustian individual, longing for freedom, knowledge and immortality, rebelling against an order he did not partic- ipate in establishing. Through Byron's use of a Biblical myth, the universality of Cain's rebellion is more obvious than was
MADACH AND THE "PO1~ME D'HUMANITI~" 243
the case in the individual tragedy of Manfi'ed. The metaphysical setting brings Cain's fate closer to that of Madfich's Adam in the Hungarian po~me d'humanit& Lucifer's role in Byron's drama is similar to that of Goethe's Mephistopheles and to that of Madfich's r~belling Lucifer, and like the latter he tries to lead man away from God through visions of other ages. But again, at the end there is neither the force of the eternal feminine nor God's encouragement to struggle on in confidence. Also Byron's dramatic fragment, The Deformed Transformed, shows Goethe's impact. In the context of our discussion, this play is significant particularly through the element of role change that Barta saw as one of the criteria of the pokme d'humanit&
In striking contrast to Byron's pessimism is the optimistic view expressed in Shelley's poems. Reason and morality will even- tually triumph, and mankind's development is towards a more perfect state. That is the essence of Queen Mab's message. Again, it is a series of visions, albeit not very clearly outlined, that depict the past, present, and future history of humanity. As in Byron, traditional religion is viewed as a means of enslaving man, and consequently rejected but Shelley believes in the healing power of nature, an element missing in Byron's dramas. In Prometheus Unbound, Shelley continues to discuss his un- orthodox religious views. Milton's rebellious Satan experiences a reincarnation here, struggling against a tyrannical god. But Shelley's use of classical rather than Christian mythology makes this relationship more easily acceptable for the general audience. Prometheus, too, has visions of man's future in which the senselessness of the sacrifice of Christ, the inability of man- kind to find true freedom through revolution are shown. Man can reach perfection only within himself and by himself, not through help from without. Only if the individual overcomes hate and embraces love can he truly become free.
It is in French Romanticism that many of the themes and trends discussed above are brought together, even though, true to the spirit of Romanticism, much of the literary production of this era has remained fragmentary. Alfred de Vigny presented in
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his Podmes antiques et modernes a panorama of human history, but the arrangement of individual poems appears somewhat accidental and does not truly amount to a cyclical overview. Yet we do find the Faustian individual, the great historical personality isolated from the masses, in his Moses who, accord- ing to the author, represents merely a mask for man of genius of all centuries. We find in Eloa the Miltonic theme of Satan's fall and witness the attempt to save the fallen angel through love, a theme that will recur in numerous variants during this period. The role of the female, as suggested in "La Maison de Berger" with its famous question "l~va, qui donc es-tu?" ("Eve, who are you after all ?")echoes Goethe's eternal femiale and points to Mad~tch's Eve. 22
Alexandre Soumet's La divine ~pop~e ou r enf er rachet~ belongs in the list ofpokmes d'humanit~, even though its literary merits may be questioned. Edgar Quinet dealt with the Faustian individual in his version of the Prometheus myth (Prom~th~). His Napol~o n celebrates the same historical personage that Victor Hugo was to idolize. But in our context, his Ahasv~rus is most important. Here, once again, we have the series of historic visions. God, dissatisfied with his creation, shows to his angels the corruption of the world in four historic periods. This poem in prose also presents the motive of continuous role changes up to the final salvation through love and faith.
Lamartine set for himself a more ambitious task. In an epic poem of gigantic proportions, he wanted to portray the destiny of mankind. As he stated his goal in the preface to La Chute d'un ange "L'~me humanie et les phases successives par lesquelles Dieu fait accomplir ses destin6es perfectibles, n'est ce pas le plus beau th6me des chants de la po6sie ?-23 ("The human soul and the successive phases through which God fulfills its perfectible destiny, is that not the most beautiful theme of poetic songs ?")
2~ CEuvres Completes de Alfred de Vigny, Poesies, l~dition d~finitive (Paris: Libraire Delagrave, n. d.), p. 193.
2a s de A. de Lamartine, Poesies: La Chute d'un ange (Paris: Alphonse Lemerre, 1885), p. 2.
MADA.CH AND THE "POI~ME D'HUMANITi~" 245
And the preface to Jocelyn points out that time for the individual heroic poem is over, that the task of perfecting man is a collec- tive and eternal task. The individual is no longer of interest, but is rather seen only in terms of whether he obstructs or facilitates the development of mankind. Humanity is the subject: "Mais ce sujet si vaste, et dont chaque po6te, chaque si6cle peut-~tre, ne peuvent 6crire qu'une page, il fallait lui trouver sa forme, son drame, ses types individuels. ''2~ ("But with this subject so vast that each poet, each century perhaps, can write only a single page of it, it was necessary to find for it its form, its drama, its individual types.") The epic of which La Chute d'un ange and Jocelyn represent the first and the last parts has remained a fragment. C6dar has been expelled from the ranks of the angels because of his love for a mortal woman, Daidha. Through a succession of ordeals he may gradually rise to his original posi- tion again. In Jocelyn the nine reincarnations appear completed and C~dar-Jocelyn and his beloved, Daidha-Laurence can be reunited for eternity. But Lamartine's characters remain passive and rather colorless. It is hard to see how they contribute to the perfection of the human race. As in Shelley, salvation seems to lie within the individual, and as in Shelley, we deal with symbols and abstractions or personifications rather than with characters of flesh and blood. If Lamartine had completed his other epic of mankind, Les Visions, we might have a French equivalent of Mad~ch's Tragedy of Man, in concept at least, if not in artistic quality. But only the outline for the ten visions of the history of mankind is left, together with fragments of the first and eighth visions, t~loim, Lamartine's hero, is led by the spirit of God through various periods of history, including the world of the Old Testament, classical antiquity, the age of Jesus (where he becomes one of the disciples), the period of chivalry, and the French Revolution to the end of the world and the beginning of eternity. As in Madfich's drama, l~loim's female counterpart
24 O~uvres de A. de Lamartine, Poesies: docelyn (Paris: Alphonse Lemerre, n. d.), p. 5.
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appears in a number of scenes, representing positive and negative aspects of womanhood.
The emphasis on history is an element Les Visions share with what is usually considered the greatest pokme d'humanit~ in French literature, Victor Hugo's La L~gende des sikcles. As in La Chute d'un ange and Jocelyn, we witness the progress of mankind, the ascent from darkness to light. In the 61 segments of the work, made up of individual poems, we are led "from Eve, the mother of men, to the Revolution, mother of the people" as Hugo states in his preface. The two other major poems that Hugo wanted to combine with "La L6gende des si6cles" into a gigantic triptych, "La Fin de Satan" and "Dieu", have remained fragmentary, but they would have gone from the human to the metaphysical level and made the work even more universal. Once again, we have a Romantic writer dealing with the salvation of Satan. It is inevitable that among the many historical miniatures Hugo presents in his work there are some that show strong parallels to the historical visions Mad~tch chose for his drama. (To interpret this as a direct influence of the French writer on the Hungarian, as Ignace Kont has done, over- looks the chronological impossibility of such influence.) 25 But there are also some general similarities, when both authors show again and again how great ideas become perverted and how evil, and human shortcomings, interfere with the progress of human- ity. Perhaps again it is only natural that there are parallels in the views of both men. As GySrgy Vajda points out: "Hugo 6tait en 6migration effective, Mad~ch en 6migration interne, tous les deux proc6daient ~t un examen de conscience ~ la suite d'une r6volution avort6e, tousles deux prospectaient les immen- ses mati~res 6piques avec un m~me lyrisme introverti et une
25 Etude sur l'influence de la littdrature franfaise en Hongrie (Paris, 1902) note on p: 349: "Si on veut d6gager la nature des influences qui s'exerc6rent sur ce po6me drarnatique.., c'est certainement plutSt vers La L6gende des Si6cles que vers le Faust qu'il faut tourner les yeux." (Quoted in Juh~isz, p. 10).
MAD/~.CH AND THE "POI~ME D'HUMANITI~'z 247
m~me tension dramatique. ''26 ("Hugo was in actual emigration, Mad~ich in internal emigration, both of them conducted a self- examination following an abortive revolution, both of them approached the immense epic subjects with the same introverted lyricism and the same dramatic tension.") Yet, Hugo remains basically optimistic. His vision of a utopic future in which science and technology have enabled mankind to soar higher and higher (it is interesting that both Hugo and Lamartine include descriptions of flying machines in their poems) 27 forms a striking contrast with Madfieh's view of the Phalanstery and the dying earth of the ice region. Hugo's attempt to be all- inclusive, to discuss all aspects of human endeavor and various cultures of the world leads to a diffused overview which is very different from Madfich's economy in selecting significant historic scenes and personages. Even though both writers cannot help including personal experiences in their works, Madgtch seems to have the universal message he wants to deliver in mind at all times, whereas Hugo, especially when dealing with recent and thus personal history, very often allows his own bitterness to obscure the plan of the whole and even goes as far as to include family anecdotes in his work. Therefore, the overall impact of his poem is considerably weakened, and the absence of a central herofurther adds to the impression that the work is a collection of separate "human poems" rather than one "po~me d'huma- nit6."
Madfich's deliberate universality sets his work apart from a drama like Mickiewicz's Dziady (Forefather's Eve) that is more a "po~me de Pologne" than a "po~me d'humanit6." But the Polish work shares many features with some of the works discussed, and George Sand, who compared it with Goethe's Faust and Byron's Manfred (and judged it superior to those two because if its more exact balance between dream and reality),
26 "L'~l~ment europ6en et hongrois dans la Trag~die de l'Homme", Acta Litteraria, 15 (1973), 343.
~r CL Hugo, La LOgende des sidcles, "Vingti6me sibcle: Plein Ciel", and Lamartine, La Chute d'un ange, "Huiti6me vision".
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stressed that Konrad, Mickiewicz's hero, was a representative of modern man, and that his cry resounded like the voice of all humanity to protest against the reign of evil and to implore divine intercession for all humankind. 28 Another Polish work could be mentioned here, Zygmunt Krasinski's Nieboska Ko- medja (The Undivine Comedy) which Allardyce Nicoll sees as the equivalent of Mad~tch's drama. 29
Ibsen's Peer Gynt, too, is not completely outside of the tradition of the pokme d'humanitO, and the simple, but important message, "Be who you are", is meant for all of us, not 0nly for Peer. Here, as in Faust and The Tragedy of Man, the female supplies the ultimate solution. But Ibsen's play is mainly directed at his Norwegian audience whose weaknesses he tried to emphasize (just as Brand established the positive ideal for his people). And the view of history is almost completely absent. Emperor and Galilean deals with history, but it lacks most of the other elements of the genre.
Frequently Wagner's Ring of the Nibelung cycle is mentioned in connection with the podme d'humanitO, but I feel it would help to limit the discussion to literature and not to include the relationship between word and music in Romantic operas, and Wagner's librettos hardly qualify as literary masterpieces by themselves,
Those works of 19th century German literature that could be more justifiably listed as representative of the genre are second- rate or third-rate poetic creations as well, to be sure, but their possible or definite Connections with Mad&ch's play warrants their brief mention at this point. Maria Csonka Farnek has presented strong internal evidence for the fact that Mad~tch might have known Wilhelm Jordan's Demiurgos, an epic that is
28 Cf. Jean Bourrilly, "Mickiewicz and France", Adam Mickiewicz in Worm Literature. A Symposium, ed. Wactaw Lednieki (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1956), p. 258.
29 Worm Drama from Aeschylus to Anouilh (New York: Hartcourt, Brace & Co., n. d.), pp. 408--81.
MADACH AND THE "POI~ME D'HUMANIT#" 249
rightly forgotten today. 3~ Once again, the role of evil in the world is being explored. Lucifer leads Agathadaemon, the good spirit, in human form through the world of man in order to demonstrate that only suffering can keep humanity from bore- dome and stagnation. Many of the disappointments Agatha- daemon-Henrich experiences remind us of similar situations in Mad~ch's play. But apart from their somewhat parallel inter- pretations of the function of evil, which had become common- place since Goethe anyway, there is little overlap between the philosophies of the two poets. Adolf yon Wilbrandt's Der Meis- ter yon Palmyra is a drama that combines the Ahasverus motive with the concept of transmigration of souls. Apelles, the Master of Palmyra, has been granted his wish for immortality and goes through various periods of history, sometimes as an active participant, sometimes as a passive observer. In each era Apelles encounters his beloved, ZoO, in different reincarnations. Finally, when Apelles recognizes the wisdom of limiting man's lifespan so that his immortal being can go through various forms and existences in order to become worthy of reunion with God, he is granted the death he now desires. Wilbrandt, who was director of the Vienna Burgtheater at the time when Ede Paulay staged the first and very successful production of The Tragedy of Man at the National Theater in neighboring Budapest, was probably familiar with the play and was influenced by it. But his Apelles
- much as Byron's Manfred - is a Faustian individual rather than a representative of mankind. Adolf Friedrich von Schack's Ndchte des Orients oder die Weltalter (Oriental Nights'or The WorM's Epochs), an epic poem in twelve chapters, describes the journey of the first-person narrator through the history of man- kind in visions conjured up by All, a mysterious magician. Each historical period presents a new disappointment, and Ali's satirical comments seem to echo Mad~ch's Lucifer in similar situations. Schack's protagonist realizes in the end that the
s0 " Imre Mad~ich's 'The Tragedy of Man' and Wilhelm Jordan's 'Dmiurgos': A Comparison", Diss. State University of New York in Buffalo 1970.
250 DIETER P. LOTZE
golden age lies in the future, not in the past. The final apotheosis of Bismarck's Reich, seen by the author as an obvious contrast to the atmosphere of gloom and despair at the beginning of the poem, is certainly as far apart from the message of the Hungar- ian poOme d'humanit~ as anything could be, and it is not very likely that Schack was familiar with Mad/tch, despite some parallels in their poems. Another German work, however, was conceived and executed as a direct response to what Catholic critics viewed as Madgtch's atheism and hostility towards reli- gion. Eduard Hlatky wrote his dramatic poem WeItenmorgen (Dawn of the World) from a dogmatic Christian viewpoint. His three "actions", "The Fall of the Angels", "The Fall of Man", "The First Sacrifice", are only loosely connected, and are furthermore interrupted by three insertions ("Previous Action in God", "Heavenly Interlude", and "Prelude in Hell"). Hlatky traces the events from the Creation through Cain's murder of Abel, and Lucifer's rebellion is seen as springing from his unwillingness to accept humans (God's representative on earth and the Virgin Mary) as superior to him, a spiritual being. From this perspective, the French Revolution and the advances made by science, hailed as landmarks on the way towards human perfection and towards reunion with God by French Romanticists, are clearly depicted as the work of the devil. Hlatky was no great writer, and his poem lacks the dramatic tension of Mad/tch's tragedy. It is burdened with theological discussions, and its characters remain pale personifications and allegories.
When viewing the development of the poOme d'humanitd in the 19th century, it becomes obvious that the works by Schack, Wilbrandt, and Hlatky are- quite apart from their other artistic shortcomings-epigonic, representative of a poetic tendency of Romanticism that saw its ultimate - and probably most outstanding - realization in Madgtch's drama. It was in the Hungarian play that the various strands evident in other Euro- pean literatures are woven together into the fabric of one significant work. Madfich's Adam is akin to Dante's visionary,
MAD~,.CH AND THE "POI~ME D'HUMANITI~" 251
led by Milton's rebellious Satan, and driven by a Faustian urge to explore and go beyond commonly accepted limitations. Like Milton's Adam and Byron's Cain, he is shown the future of mankind. Mad~ch presents a selected number of historical miniatures reminiscent of the intentions of Lamartine and Hugo. But in none of the ~orks discussed do we find the cohesiveness he offers by making Adam, the Faustian hero, an active partic- ipant rather than a mere spectator in the historic visions. Thus we see an intertwining of individual tragedy, philosophical view of world history, and metaphysical confrontation on an extra-human level not to be found elsewhere. It is Mad~ch's artistry that makes Adam believable as an individual and believable in his various historical roles as well. Most of the works discussed saw Goethe's "Eternal-Feminine" as man's guide and - despite human shortcomings in her various reincarnations - as contributing to or actually accomplishing final salvation. Mad~tch's Eve, who has not gone through the shattering experience of the historic visions by means of which Lucifer has been trying to bring Adam to despair, seems partic- ularly well qualified for the redeeming role of the female.
That it was especially French Romanticism which left its imprint on Mad~ch's work should not surprise. Mad~ch belong- ed to the generation of which J6kai was to say "We were all Frenchmen". Despite the continued impact of German litera- ture and German philosophy (whose tangible evidence is the number of German titles in Mad~ch's own library which far exceeded any other language), ~1 Revolutionary France had become the cultural ideal of the generation after Kazinczy. The experience of the events of 1848 - 49 and of the Bach regime further diminished the importance of German cultural influ- ences. Yet, the same experience separated Hungarian writers from the optimism and absolute belief in a better future so characteristic of much of French literature. The final message of
31 Cf. the breakdown of books according to language, as offered in J6zsef Szficsi's article "Mad~ch Imre k6nyvt~ra", Magyar K6nyvszemle, 23 (1915), 5--28.
252 DIETER P. LOTZE
Madgtch's play is much more complex than Hugo's professed faith in mankind's upward movement towards the light. Even though I do not agree with those critics who see The Tragedy of Man essentially as a drame gt clef in which the author offers mainly cleverly disguised comments on political and social conditions of his native country, zz it is obvious to me that Mad~tch's view of world history is colored by what he saw in 19th century Hungary, intensified by the personal tragedy of the events of the War of Independence. And Madgtch, as a Hungar- ian, shared in the experience that is generally unknown to anyone belonging to a major nation: the concern for the surviv- al of the nation and its culture, representing such a small and linguistically isolated entity. Herder's prophecy of the impending disappearance of the Hungarian people was a verbalization of that nightmare. But Hungary and Hungarians had prevailed over the centuries, and the final words of the Lord to Adam, "Hark to me, Man ! Strive on, strive on, and trust ]" are therefore an expression of national sentiment as well as ,a uniyersal message to mankind.
Thus, Mad~tch has presented us with a work that is on the one hand the realization of the possibilities of the European poOme d'humanitd with its universal message, and on the other hand a literary work that is representative of Hungarian culture as well. To be sure, Mad~ch was the first and only major Hungarian writer to utilize this Romantic genre, but his way had been paved by others within the development of Hungarian literature. Miklds Zrinyi had focused on national history when he wrote his monumental epic about the siege of Sziget, but he, too, had presented human history in a metaphysical framework. By em- bodying the factual happenings in a divine plan for mankind, he was able to find a positive interpretation for a negative devel- opment in the Hungarian past. Thus, a work was created that elevated the defeated above their conquerors and conveyed a universal message as well. Frigyes Riedl was the first, I think, to
32 S6t6r sometimes comes close to that position.
MAD/kCH AND THE "POI~ME D'HUMANITI~" 253
list Ferenc K61csey's pessimistic poem "Vanitatum Vanitas" as one of the works that had prepared the ground for Mad~ich's playY and the perspective of history that views the greatest battles as no more significant than a cock-fight, self-sacrificing virtue as a dream, and the deaths of Socrates, Cato, or Zrinyi insane acts seems to be echoed in the historical visions Lucifer creates for Adam. V6r6smarty, in Csongor and Tiinde, used a symbolic drama as the medium for philosophical discussion but a poem like "Gondolatok a k6nyvfftrban" ("Thoughts in the Library") appears to be closer to Mad~ch's drama. "What is our task in life? To strive for the noblest goals with all of our power." That sounds very much like the final words of the Lord to Adam. Man's responsibility is to advance mankind, to lift the nation out of her errors and misfortunes. There is again, despite the gloomy experiences Of the past, the hope that there will be a future. This is echoed in Pet6fi's long poem, "Az apostol" ("The Apostole"). Even though the protagonist is destroyed by the brutality of the reigning powers and by the apathy or hostility of the masses, a theme that recurs in Mad~ch's work, his life will not have been in vain. The view of the slow development of mankind and of the role of the individual in this development that Pet6fi presents in the grape parable, the ideal of freedom as the only means of achieving happiness, are voiced in the Hungarian pokme d'humanit~ as well.
With V6r6smarty and Pet6fi we have turned to the two great representatives of Hungarian Romanticism, and Mad~ch was thus not only a "disciple of French Romanticism" as L~tszl6 Juh~sz saw it, but also an heir to Hungarian Romanticism. This, of course, has not always been accepted. Paul van Tieghem, in his monumental work on European Romanticism, attempts to show the difference between the Romantic movement in Hungary and elsewhere by emphasizing that Hungarian Roman- ticism is essentially psychological, moral and dramatic, and does not tend towards those long meditations on the fates of man-
3~ Cf. Maddeh, Magyar irodalmi ritksfigok, 26 (Budapest: Kir~ilyi magyar egyetemi nyomda, 1933), p. 18.
254 DIETER P. LOTZE
kind that gave birth to great poems in other countries "unless one extends it all the way to Mad~ch's Tragedy of Man". ~4 Most modern critics, from Barta to S6t6r and N6meth, seem quite willing tO extend Romanticism that far. It may not be going too far to state that with Mad/tch's drama Romanticism had run its course in Europe, and that his play established the culmination of a Romantic genre that could not be used again with any degree of artistry or success. European literature had turned towards Realism, and even in Mad&ch's play, there are realistic features, whether it be the emphasis on socio-economic problems in the London scene, the critical look at scientific and socialist utopia in the Phalanstery, or the brutal description of the dog-eat-dog world of the Eskimo scene. Yet, Mad/tch's Adam is the idealistic Romantic hero whose place is in the epics and dramas that had discussed mankind's fate ever since Goethe, not in the novel that was to become the favorite genre of the age of Realism. Perhaps Mad~tch's eloquent attack on the novel (a genre he viewed as characteristic of Romantic literature) in his inaugural speech before the Kisfaludy Society in 1862 demon- strates most clearly how much he represented a movement that had come to an end? 5 This, as SSter pointed out, was voiced at a time when Balzac, Stendhal, and Dickens had already publisbed their masterpieces. 3~ Similarly, his complaint in Ti~nddrdlom (Fairy Dream) about poetry having fled from a period marked by railroads and steam engines, telegraph, newspapers and gas lights, establishes him as a late Romanticist (whose views in this respect are in strange contrast with the belief in a technological future to be found in French Romanticism).
The Tragedy of Man is the last great po~me d'humanit~ in European literature, a brilliant sunset of literary Romanticism.
34 Le Romantieisme clans la litt~rature europ~enne, L'l~volution de l'Humanit6: Synth6se collective, 76 (Paris: t~ditions Albin Michel, 1948), p. 237.
35 "Az aesthetika 6s t~rsadalom viszonyos befoly~isa", Osszes Mavei, ed. G~bor Hal~isz, II (Budapest: R6vai, 1942), pp. 569--82.
26 SSt6r, p. 42.