1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Kemény, Zsigmond, Baron

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

KEMÉNY, ZSIGMOND, Baron (1816–1875), Hungarian author, came of a noble but reduced family. In 1837 he studied jurisprudence at Marosvásárhely, but soon devoted himself entirely to journalism and literature. His first unfinished work, On the Causes of the Disaster of Mohacs (1840), attracted much attention. In the same year he studied natural history and anatomy at Vienna University. In 1841, along with Lajos Kovács, he edited the Transylvanian newspaper Erdélyi Hiradó. He also took an active part in provincial politics and warmly supported the principles of Count Stephen Széchenyi. In 1846 he moved to Pest, where his pamphlet, Korteskedés és ellenszerei (Partisanship and its Antidote), had already made him famous. Here he consorted with the most eminent of the moderate reformers, and for a time was on the staff of the Pesti Hirlap. The same year he brought out his first great novel, Pál Gyulay. He was elected a member of the revolutionary diet of 1848 and accompanied it through all its vicissitudes. After a brief exile he accepted the amnesty and returned to Hungary. Careless of his unpopularity, he took up his pen to defend the cause of justice and moderation, and in his two pamphlets, Forradalom után (After the Revolution) and Még egysz ó a forradalom után (One word more after the Revolution), he defended the point of view which was realized by Deák in 1867. He subsequently edited the Pesti Napló, which became virtually Deák’s political organ. Kemény also published several political essays (e.g. The Two Wesselényis, and Stephen Szechenyi) which are among the best of their kind in any literature. His novels published during these years, such as Férj és nö (Husband and Wife), Szivörvényei (The Heart’s Secrets), &c., also won for him a foremost rank among contemporary novelists. During the ’sixties Kemény took an active part in the political labours of Deák, whose right hand he continued to be, and popularized the Composition of 1867 which he had done so much to bring about. He was elected to the diet of 1867 for one of the divisions of Pest, but took no part in the debates. The last years of his life were passed in complete seclusion in Transylvania. To the works of Kemény already mentioned should be added the fine historical novel Rajongok (The Fanatics) (Pest, 1858–1859), and Collected Speeches (Hung.) (Pest, 1889).

See L. Nogrady, Baron Sigismund Kemény’s Life and Writings (Hung.) (Budapest, 1902); G. Beksics, Sigismund Kemény, the Revolution and the Composition (Hung.) (Budapest, 1888).  (R. N. B.)