Imre Madách on national character


“What is national character? Bad habits.”



SOURCE:  Madách, Imre. Össszes Művei [Collected Works], Vol. II (Budapest: Révai, 1942), p. 757.

REFERENCES:

Szegedy-Maszák, Mihály. “From Enlightenment Universalism to Romantic Nationalism,” Hungarian Studies 14, No. 2 (2000), pp. 181-192.

In the pre-revolutionary decade, Madách himself wrote historical tragedies about medieval Hungary — Nápolyi Endre (Andrew of Naples), Mária királynő (Queen Mary), and Csák végnapjai (The Last Days of Csák) - whereas in the post-revolutionary period his chief aim became to give some interpretation of human history as a whole, having realized that the idea of national character, a concept at the basis of most historical tragedies written in the first half of the 19th century, was invalidated by Positivist science.

Szegedy-Maszák, Mihály. “Romantic Drama in Hungary,” in Hungarian Studies, vol. 4, no. 2, 1988, pp. 195-212. Quote referenced on p. 203. Also in Romantic Drama, edited by Gerald Gillespie (Amsterdam; Philadelphia: John Benjamins, 1994), pp. 297-315.


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