Ferenc Kazinczy (October 27, 1759 – August 23, 1831) was a Hungarian author, the most indefatigable agent in the regeneration of the Magyar language and literature at the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th century. His name is today connected to the extensive Language Reform of the 19th century, when thousands of words were coined or revived, enabling the Hungarian language to keep up with scientific progress and become an official language of the nation in 1844.
He was born at Érsemjén (today Şimian, Bihor, Romania), in the county of Bihar, Hungary. He studied law at Kassa and Eperjes, and in Pest, where he also obtained a thorough knowledge of French and German literature, and made the acquaintance of Gedeon Ráday[disambiguation needed], who allowed him the use of his library. In 1784 Kazinczy became subnotary for the county of Abaúj; and in 1786 he was nominated inspector of schools at Kassa. There he began to devote himself to the restoration of the Magyar language and literature by translations from classical foreign works, and by the augmentation of the native vocabulary from ancient Magyar sources. In 1788, with the assistance of Dávid Baróti Szabó (hu) and János Batsányi, he started at Kassa the first literary magazine in the Magyar (Hungarian) language, Magyar Muzeum; the Orpheus, which succeeded it in 1790, was his own creation. Although, upon the accession of Leopold II, Kazinczy, as a non-Catholic, was obliged to resign his post at Kassa, his literary activity in no way decreased. He not only assisted Raday in the establishment and direction of the first Magyar dramatic society, but enriched the repertoire with several translations from foreign authors. His Hamlet, which first appeared at Kassa in 1790, is a rendering from the German version of Schröder.
Implicated in the democratic conspiracy of the abbot Martinovics, Kazinczy was arrested in December 1794, and condemned to death; but the sentence was commuted to imprisonment, he was imprisoned in the Kufstein Fortress. He was released in 1801, and shortly afterwards married Sophie Török (hu), daughter of his former patron, and retired to his small estate at Széphalom or "Fairhill", near Sátoraljaújhely (Széphalom is already the part of Sátoraljaújhely), in the county of Zemplén. In 1828 he took an active part in the conferences held for the establishment of the Hungarian academy, in the historical section of which he became the first corresponding member. He died of cholera at Széphalom.
Kazinczy, known for possessing great beauty of style, was inspired greatly by the masterpieces of Lessing, Goethe, Wieland, Klopstock, Ossian, La Rochefoucauld, Marmontel, Molière, Metastasio, Shakespeare, Sterne, Cicero, Sallust, Anacreon, and many others. He also edited the works of Sándor Báróczi (hu) (Pest, 1812, 8 vols.) and of the poet Zrinyi (1817, 2 vols.), and the poems of Dayka (1813, 3 vols.) and of John Kis (1815, 3 vols.).
A collected edition of his works, consisting for the most part of translations, was published at Pest, 1814-1816, in 9 vols. His original productions (Eredeti Munkái), largely made up of letters, were edited by Joseph Bajza and Francis Toldy at Pest, 1836-1845, in 5 vols. Editions of his poems appeared in 1858 and in 1863.
In 1873, a neo-classicistic memorial hall (mausoleum) and graveyard was built in Széphalom for his memory, based on the plans of the architect Miklós Ybl. Today it belongs to the Ottó Herman Museum. The Museum of the Hungarian Language is intended to be built here, whose cornerstone has been laid in the park.
Tövisek és virágok 1811.
Poétai episztola Vitkovics Mihályhoz 1811.
Felelet a mondolatra pamphlet, 1815.
Ortológus és neológus nálunk és más nemzeteknél 1819.
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- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.