1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Kármán, József

KÁRMÁN, JÓZSEF (1769–1795), Hungarian author, was born at Losoncz on the 14th of March 1769, the son of a Calvinist pastor. He was educated at Losoncz and Pest, whence he migrated to Vienna. There he made the acquaintance of the beautiful and eccentric Countess Markovics, who was for a time his mistress, but she was not, as has often been supposed, the heroine of his famous novel Fanni Hagyománai (Fanny's testament). Subsequently he settled in Pest as a lawyer. His sensibility, social charm, liberal ideas (he was one of the earliest of the Magyar Freemasons) and personal beauty, opened the doors of the best houses to him. He was generally known as the Pest Alcibiades, and was especially at home in the salons of the Protestant magnates. In 1792, together with Count Raday, he founded the first theatrical society at Buda. He maintained that Pest, not Pressburg, should be the literary centre of Hungary, and in 1794 founded the first Hungarian quarterly, Urania, but it met with little support and ceased to exist in 1795, after three volumes had appeared. Kármán, who had long been suffering from an incurable disease, died in the same year. The most important contribution to Urania was his sentimental novel, Fanni Hagyománai, much in the style of La nouvelle Héloise and Werther, the most exquisite product of Hungarian prose in the 18th century and one of the finest psychological romances in the literature. Kzirman also wrote two satires and fragments of an historical novel, while his literary programme is set forth in his dissertation Anemzel csinosoddsa.

Kármán's collected works were published in Abafi’s Nemzeti Kónyvtár (Pest, 1878), &c., preceded by a life of Kerman. See F. Baréth, Joseph Kármán (Hung., Vas. Ujs, 1874); Zsolt Beöthy, article on Kármán in Képes Irodalomtörtenet (Budapest, 1894).  (R. N. B.)