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Sándor PETŐFI
( 1823 - 1849 )

» Poems (1842-44)
» The Apostle (1948)

Biography

1823 born in Kiskőrös as Sándor Petrovics
1838 first poem published in Aszód Grammar School; the flood of the Danube forces his family, living in Szabadszállás, into bankruptcy
1841-44 plays in several theatrical troops around the country
1841-42 student at the Calvinist College of Pápa; makes friends with Mór Jókai. Joins a theatrical troop, leaves college
1844 first volume of poetry published
1844-45 co-editor of Pesti Divatlap
1846 founds a young poets' society (The Society of Ten, "Young Hungary")
1847 meets János Arany; marries Júlia Szendrey
1848 reciting his song for the public gathered in front of the National Museum, he becomes the voice of the Hungarian National Uprising
1849 serves as a major in the War of Independence; dies probably at the battle of Segesvár

Poems
1842-44

Versek 184244 (Poems) Sándor Petőfi, to date perhaps the best-known Hungarian poet, was the son of a village butcher and innkeeper. He spent his childhood at numerous places on the Great Hungarian Plain, whose images recur all through his poetry. His first book of poems was published with the help of Mihály Vörösmarty, the greatest contemporary poet. Petőfi’s early poetry is characterised by a natural, conversational tone, an eye for detail, a personal approach to nature and a faithful portraying of his family. Although his first editor sustained the romantic image of “the natural poet”, and indeed, Petőfi’s first poems were inspired by genuine folksongs, he learnt Latin at school, German in Pest and Graz as a soldier, and taught himself French and English. During his short life he translated among others from Shelley, Heine, Schiller, Béranger and Moore. He completed the translation of Shakespeare’s Coriolan in 1848 and even started Romeo and Juliet.

The Apostle
1948

Az apostol (1948, The Apostle) In the course of the bloodless Revolution of 1848, however, Petőfi experiences the contradictions of his ideals, the indifference of the people of the street and soon writes this long romantic poem, whose hero, the enthusiastic leader of his people, is executed in the end.

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