While the first with the Christmas Dream, with Annuska and with The wine frees popular drama from the operettistic elements and the false idealizations of peasant life, the second obtained deserved successes first (with Brigadier Ocskay) as the continuer of the new romantic tendencies that began towards the 1870 (Eugenio Rákosi, Luigi Dóczi and Luigi Bartók) and then with several historical and social dramas (Dolova’s Daughter of the Nabob, etc.). He also gave his country the best modern tragedy: Byzantium, and opened the way to foreign countries for the new Hungarian comedy (The castle of dreams, The blue fox). An even more celebrated representative of this kind of witty comedy, full of modern problems, is Ferenc Molnár (born in 1878), one of the greatest virtuosos of theatrical technique.
The slow, gradual disappearance of the national spirit, which began in the last decade of the century. XIX, is partly explained by the ever increasing foreign influences and partly by the activity of writers of foreign origin. A fin de siècle spirit, imported from France, took hold of most of the younger generation.
According to baglib, the most marked literary individuality of this address was the critic and short story writer Zoltán Ambrus (1861-1932), while Alessandro Bródy (1863-1924) and Tommaso Kóbor (born in 1867) are the first representatives of naturalism in the Hungarian novel.
Eugenio Heltai (born in 1871) introduced naturalistic elements in his easy poems, which move on the margins of prose. Giulio Krudy (1878-1933) and Desiderio Szomory (born in 1869) represent better than many others the fragmentarism of Impressionist prose. These writers were the columns of the magazine A Hét (The Week), born in 1890, and which later became the organ of the most extreme and most varied tendencies, although its editor Giuseppe Kiss (1843-1921) had only imported the mentality of his Jewish ancestors with his ballads and lyrics, in which the influence of Arany and Heine is felt. Beginning in 1908, A Hét rapidly lost its importance, which instead passed to another magazine, the Nyugat (West). The anti-traditional program of this periodical was the source of many exaggerations and a certain hostility to the national spirit; however, he pushed some of Hungary’s greatest and most profound geniuses to success, including, in the front line, Andrea Ady (1877-1919). The appearance of Ady (1906) suddenly changed the literary question into a national and even a political question: the presence of the genius forced everyone to take sides. The coryphs of conventionalism saw in him a traitor to the fatherland, a corrupter of the language, an immoral apostate; the youth, on the other hand, made him their idol, while the radicals and socialists of Nyugat they wrote his name on their revolutionary flags. The clamor of the battle aroused by Ady’s lyric, astonishingly new and bold in form and content, only subsided after the poet’s death. The understanding then prevailed that Ady had been not only a merciless flogger of his race, but also the most ardent lover of it; who, in spite of all his revolutionaries, both in language and in spirit, had shown himself to be more Hungarian than all his contemporaries, indeed than his own precursors.
Only a few original spirits managed to escape Ady’s fascinating influence. Among them, in addition to three delicate lyrics: Desiderio Kosztolányi (1885-1936), Árpád Tóth (1886-1928) and Giulio Juhász (born in 1883), the most notable is Michele Babits (born in 1883), a modern learned, solitary poet in love with eternal truths and eternal beauties, impeccable master of form, who gave his country the most perfect Hungarian translation of the Divine Comedy ; that with his essays he has revealed many unknown beauties of old Hungarian literature; that finally in the novels Virgilio Timár’s Son and The Children of Death, narrating the story of his youth, had vibrant accents of lyrical pain. As editor of Nyugat he is one of the most authoritative leaders of today’s literary life.
The representative narrator of Ady’s generation, Sigismondo Móricz (born in 1879), enriched with robust naturalistic colors the literary image of the Hungarian peasant (Oro crude, In capo al mondo), while his recent historical novels gave new life to the past Transylvanian, with a strength of intuition that surpasses even that of Sigismondo Kemény (Garden of the fairies, The great prince). Desiderio Szabó (born in 1879) had a great influence on the youth of the decade following the World War, who in his novels (Overwhelmed Village, Help) raises the Hungarian peasant to almost mythical heights.
The world war, the imprisonment, the revolution, at first served only as themes to the rich war literature in which two authentic masterpieces stand out: The two prisoners by Lájos Zilahy and The black cloister by Aladár Kuncz. But then the spiritual effects of the war took over so that the nation struck down by the catastrophe finds itself and joins in the struggle, in the faith and in the work for the resurrection. This nationalism combined with a profound humanity which manifests itself not programmatically, but as the most intimate source of artistic inspiration, constitutes the fundamental tone of today’s Hungarian literature.
It resounds in the Catholic lyre of Alessandro Sik (born in 1889) and Ladilsao Mécs, in the verses of the young poets that arise ever more numerous from the fertile soil of the village (e.g., Giulio Illyés, Giuseppe Erdélyi), and in the best works novelists (Francesco Móra, Cecilia Tormay, Federico Karinthy, Rodolfo Márai, Giovanni Kodolányi, Nicola Surányi, Zsolt Harsányi). The most distinguished literary representatives of the Hungarians currently subjected to foreign domination are: Alessandro Reményik, Luigi Áprilyi, Giovanni Bartalis, Irene Gulácsy, Giuseppe Nyirő, Aronne Tamási, Maria Berde.