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He was born to a Jewish family, he was one of the founders of the Communist Party of Hungary (Kommunisták Magyarországi Pártja; KMP) in 1918. He lived in the Soviet Union between 1934 and 1944. From 11 May to 27 September 1945 Révai was a member of the High National Council. Between 1945 and 1950 he was chief editor of Szabad Nép ("Free People").
He controlled all aspects of Hungary's cultural life from 1948 until 1953; from 1949 he was also the Minister of Culture. After 1953 his influence decreased.
Between 1945–1956 he was a member of the Central Committee of his party, which was renamed in 1948 to Hungarian Working People's Party (Magyar Dolgozók Pártja; MDP) after merging with another party. He was the member of the Political Committee (1945–1953; 1956). After the Workers' Party was dissolved and the Hungarian Socialist Workers' Party took over its role as the ruling Communist party, Révai became a member of the new party's Central Committee in 1957. He was vice-president to the Presidential Committee between 1953–1958.
- Ady (Budapest, 1945)
- Marxizmus és magyarság ("Marxism and the Hungarians"; Budapest, 1946)
- Marxizmus és népiesség ("Marxism and Popularism"; Budapest, 1946)
- Élni tudunk a szabadsággal ("We Can Live with Freedom"; Budapest, 1949)
- Kulturális forradalmunk kérdései ("Questions about our Cultural Revolution"; Budapest, 1952)
- Válogatott irodalmi tanulmányok ("Selected Essays in Literature", Budapest, 1960)
- Válogatott történelmi írások I–II. ("Selected Essays in History I–II."; Budapest, 1966).
- Magyar Életrajzi Lexikon 1000–1990
- Egyetemes Lexikon, Officina Nova Kiadó (1994).
- Anne Applebaum, Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe 1945-56, 2012, ISBN 0385515693, page 144
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