Palágyi, Lajos

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PALÁGYI, LAJOS (1866–1933), Hungarian poet. Palágyi, who was born at Óbecse, was a brother of the philosopher Menyhért *Palágyi. Palágyi had a hard struggle against poverty, and in order to be able to devote himself to the writing of poetry earned his living as an instructor at teachers' seminaries and later as a journalist. He was one of the writers who engaged in the struggle which resulted in 1895 in the official recognition of the Jewish religion in Hungary. Palágyi belonged to the group of Hungarian philosophical poets influenced by the German philosopher Schopenhauer. His poems won several prizes, but never enjoyed wide popularity. Several of them deal with Jewish themes, including Bibliai emlékek ("Biblical Reminiscences," 1896). He also published Magányos úton ("On the Lonely Road," 1893); Költemények ("Poems," 1907); the dramatic A rabszolgák ("Slaves," 1899); and the epic Az anyaföld ("Mother Earth," 1921). He translated Goethe's Faust into Hungarian (1909). Palágyi was at first regarded as a socialist poet but he never actually joined the socialist movement since, in his own words, "the sufferings of humanity cannot be cured by institutions. Hearts and brains must be renewed." He turned his back on society and his opposition to socialism grew progressively stronger. Nevertheless in 1920, following the Hungarian revolution, he was expelled from the distinguished Petöfi literary society and deprived of his pension. Eleven years later he published a pamphlet in self-justification, telling the story of his persecution.


Magyar Zsidó Lexikon (1929), 678–9; Magyar Irodalmi Lexikon, 2 (1965), 420–1; J. Sporer, Palágyi Lajos élete és költészete (1937).

[Baruch Yaron]