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1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Eötvös, József, Baron

< 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica

Fehérvár proclaimed it, Eötvös cited him to appear at the capital ad audiendum verbum regium. He was a constant defender of the composition with Austria (Ausgleich), and during the absence of Andrássy used to preside over the council of ministers; but the labours of the last few years were too much for his failing health, and he died at Pest on the 2nd of February 1871. On the 3rd of May 1879 a statue was erected to him at Pest in the square which bears his name.

Eötvös occupied as prominent a place in Hungarian literature as in Hungarian politics. His peculiarity, both as a politician and as a statesman, lies in the fact that he was a true philosopher, a philosopher at heart as well as in theory; and in his poems and novels he clothed in artistic forms all the great ideas for which he contended in social and political life. The best of his verses are to be found in his ballads, but his poems are insignificant compared with his romances. It was The Carthusians, written on the occasion of the floods at Pest in 1838, that first took the public by storm. The Magyar novel was then in its infancy, being chiefly represented by the historico-epics of Jósiká. Eötvös first modernized it, giving prominence in his pages to current social problems and political aspirations. The famous Village Notary came still nearer to actual life, while Hungary in 1514, in which the terrible Dozsa Jacquerie (see Dozsa) is so vividly described, is especially interesting because it rightly attributes the great national catastrophe of Mohács to the blind selfishness of the Magyar nobility and the intense sufferings of the people. Yet, as already stated, all these books are written with a moral purpose, and their somewhat involved and difficult style is, nowadays at any rate, a trial to those who are acquainted with the easy, brilliant and lively novels of Jókai.

The best edition of Eötvös’ collected works is that of 1891, in 17 vols. Comparatively few of his writings have been translated, but there are a good English version (London, 1850) and numerous German versions of The Village Notary, while The Emancipation of the Jews has been translated into Italian and German (Pest, 1841–1842), and a German translation of Hungary in 1514, under the title of Der Bauernkrieg in Ungarn was published at Pest in 1850.

See A. Bán, Life and Art of Baron Joseph Eötvös (Hung.) (Budapest, 1902); Zoltan Ferenczi Baron Joseph Eötvös (Hung.) (Budapest, 1903) [this is the best biography]; and M. Berkovics, Baron Joseph Eotvos and the French Literature (Hung.) (Budapest, 1904).  (R. N. B.)