Ignotus, Hugó

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IGNOTUS, HUGÓ (pen-name of Hugó Veigelsberg ; 1869–1949), Hungarian author, journalist, and critic. Ignotus ("Unknown") was born and educated in Budapest. After publishing A Slemil keservei ("The Sorrows of Schlemiel") in 1891, he gained increasing recognition as a commentator on literary and political affairs. In Nyugat, the Hungarian literary journal which he founded in 1907 and edited for some years, Ignotus attacked conservative attitudes, gave active support to such important young writers as the poet Endre Ady, and established the modern Hungarian school of aesthetic criticism. He was also a pioneer in the literary exploitation of psychoanalysis. His works include a volume of verse, Versek (1895); stories entitled Változatok a G-húron ("Variations in G," 1902); the essays of Kisérletek (1910); Ignotus verseiböl ("Poems of Ignotus," 1918); and Ignotus novelláiból (1918), a collection of short stories. Ignotus, whose reformist social and political outlook had brought him advisory appointments at both municipal and national levels, left Hungary when Béla Kun's Communists seized power in 1919 and thereafter moved from Switzerland to Berlin and Vienna, working as an editor or correspondent for democratic newspapers. In 1938 he returned to Budapest for a brief time, but moved to London later that year and from there went to the U.S. His literary career then came to an end. Ignotus was reconciled to the Communist regime in Hungary after World War ii and returned to his birthplace shortly before his death.

His son, pÁl ignotus (1901–1978), a convert to Christianity, was also a leading critic and liberal journalist in Hungary during the 1930s. Together with the poet Attila József, he founded Szép Szó, a literary and political journal which, from 1936, tried to unite all democratic and anti-Nazi elements in face of the Nazi peril. He was forced to take refuge in England in 1939 and, during World War ii, worked for the bbc. He became press attaché at the Hungarian embassy in London after the war, but was recalled to Budapest in 1949 and, with other Social Democrats, spent seven years in prison on fabricated charges. Following the 1956 Hungarian revolution, Pál Ignotus again fled to London, where he edited the émigré periodical Irodalmi Újság. His works include A horogkeresztes hadjárat ("The Arrow-Cross Campaign," 1933), and two books which appeared in English: Political Prisoner (1959) and The Paradox of Maupassant (1967).


Magyar Irodalmi Lexikon, 1 (1963), 491; Magyar Zsidó Lexikon (1929), 387; A. Komlós, Ignotus válogatott irásai (1969), 5–34.

[Baruch Yaron]