Ujvári, Péter

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UJVÁRI, PÉTER (1869–1931), Hungarian author and journalist. Ujvári, the son of Wolf Groszmann, rabbi of Érsekújvár (Nové-Zámky), Slovakia, was born in Tolcsva. He was educated at various yeshivot until the age of 20, when he became a journalist in Szeged. By the time he moved to Budapest, in 1907, he was already well known. In Budapest he joined the editorial boards of a number of liberal newspapers, as well as the Jewish newspaper Egyenlőség. It was in this paper that his first and most important novel, Az új keresztény ("The New Christian," 1907), was serialized. This is the tragicomic story of the conversion to Christianity of the head of a small Jewish community, so that his son may be elected to parliament. The book gives a realistic picture of Jewish life in the late 19th century, of the people who strove to preserve it, and of those who helped to destroy it. He never gained a wide readership and lived most of his life at starvation level. After World War i, he wandered from one Central European country to another and, when he returned to Budapest, every one of his attempts to establish a Jewish newspaper met with disaster. His only successful enterprise was the Hungarian-Jewish encyclopedia, Magyar Zsidó Lexikon (1929), a carefully written and responsible work which, after the extermination of Hungarian Jewry, became an important source of information.

Ujvári's other works include Legendák és krónikák ("Legends and Stories," 1905), A túlsó parton ("Across the River," 1920), and A mécs mellett ("By Candlelight," 1908), memories of his yeshivah days. Ujvári's play, Leviathán (1929), on life during the Ukrainian pogroms, was banned in Hungary.


Magyar Zsidó Lexikon (1929), 922–3; Magyar Irodalmi Lexikon, (1965), 444–5.

[Baruch Yaron]