Last update:

Author's page

( 1823 - 1864 )

» Commodus (1839 )
» Andrew of Naples (1841-42 )
» Man and Woman (1842-43 )
» The Civiliser (1859 )
» The Tragedy of Man (1859-1860 )


1823 born in Alsósztregova (today in the Slovak Republic).
1837 begins his studies in Philosophy at Budapest
1838 studies Law at the University of Budapest
1842 works as a Deputy Notary, later as a County Court Judge
1852 imprisoned for having sheltered Kossuth's secretary in the War of Independence
1861 lives in isolation on his estate, working on his poetry and dramas
1861 elected to the Diet (the Hungarian Parliament)
1862 becomes a member of the Kisfaludy Literary Society
1863 member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences
1864 dies in Alsósztregova


Commodus (Commodus) 1839 Commodus is a play about a Roman emperor whose tyrannical rule is challenged by the youth of Rome. The play reflects the young Madách s romantic ideals of peace and love.

Andrew of Naples

Nápolyi Endre (Andrew of Naples) 1841-42 This is a drama about the brother of Luis I. of Hungary. These early plays were inspired by Madách s romantic nationalism and took their topic from the history of medieval Hungary.

Man and Woman

Férfi és nő (Man and Woman) 1842-43 A play modelled on The Women of Trachis by Sophocles, presenting Heracles passionate love for two mortal women and a goddess, the characters Forgách and Palizsnay resemble Ádám and Lucifer in The Tragedy of Man.

The Civiliser

A civilizátor (The Civiliser) 1859 The Civiliser is a burlesque allegorical comedy written in the manner of Aristophanes, ridiculing the idea that man has no higher duty than to serve the state of a "civilising" colonial bureaucracy. The play presents a sharply satirical view of the post-revolutionary political scene in Hungary, its theme making it unpublishable at the time.

The Tragedy of Man

Az ember tragédiája (The Tragedy of Man) 1859-1860 The Tragedy of Man is a lyrical drama that can be paralleled with Goethe s Faust or Milton s Paradise Lost. The Tragedy of Man, is considered one of the outstanding monuments of world literature and was translated into more that fifty languages. Its style is original due to the tension between aphoristic statements and gradually unfolding symbols. The play suggests a loss of illusions characteristic of a post-revolutionary age; it presents history as Adam s dream, as a succession of great moments in the struggle of mankind. Adam is accompanied by Eve, the creative instinct, and led by Lucifer, "the underlying spirit of negation", the disillusioned intellectual rebel. "The fifteen scenes constituting the surface structure are subordinated to a thematic deep structure, the dialogue of Adam and Lucifer being a projection of an inner debate between the teleology of Romantic Liberalism and the cyclical view of existence held by some Positivists." (Mihály Szegedy-Maszák) "Madách was by nature given to reading and thinking, but personal and largely unhappy family circumstances, aggravated by the political upheaval and national tragedy in 19th century Hungary, and to some extent by the divisions of religious persuasions still smouldering in the country, gave his thinking a direction and relevance that impelled him to write a philosophical dramatic poem of exceptional beauty. His is not poetry in the ordinary sense, relying on known poetic devices. The Tragedy of Man is poetry of thought." (Ádám Makkai) I know that I will fail and fail again, / I don t care. After all, what is the goal? / It is the end of an honourable contest. / The goal is death, but life consists of struggle. / The struggle in itself must be the goal. (from The Tragedy of Man, translated by George Szirtes)

Download contents in PDF!