Mihály Babits

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Mihály Babits
Born(1883-11-26)26 November 1883
Szekszárd, Austria-Hungary
Died4 August 1941(1941-08-04) (aged 57)
Budapest, Hungary
GenrePoetry, Short stories, Novels
Literary history
Essays, lyric poetry
SpouseIlona Tanner [hu] (pen name: Sophie Török)
RelativesMother: Auróra Kelemen
Father: Mihály Babits

Mihály Babits (Hungarian: [ˈmihaːj ˈbɒbit͡ʃ]; 26 November 1883 – 4 August 1941) was a Hungarian poet, writer and translator. His poems are well known for their intense religious themes. His novels such as “The Children of Death” (1927) explore psychological problems.[1]


Babits was born in Szekszárd. He studied at the University of Budapest from 1901 to 1905, where he met Dezső Kosztolányi and Gyula Juhász. He worked to become a teacher and taught at schools in Baja (1905–06), Szeged (1906–08), Fogaras (1908–11), Újpest (1911), and Budapest (1912–18).

His reputation for his poems in the literary life started in 1908.

He made a trip to Italy in the same year, which made him interested in Dante; he made several other trips in later years. This experience led him to translate Dante's Divine Comedy (Hell, 1913, Purgatory, 1920, and Paradise, 1923).

Briefly after the Hungarian Revolution of 1919 he became a Professor of Foreign Literature and modern Hungarian literature at the University of Budapest, but was soon removed for his pacifism after the revolutionary government fell.

In 1911, he became a staff writer on the magazine Nyugat.

Babits' 1918 novel The Nightmare (also known as King's Stork) is a science fiction novel about a split personality influenced by Freudian psychology.[2] Elza pilóta, vagy a tökéletes társadalom ("The Pilot Elza, or the Perfect Society") is set in a utopian future.[3]

In 1921 married Ilona Tanner [hu], who later published poetry under the name Sophie Török. Two years later he moved to Esztergom. In 1927 he became a member of the "Kisfaludy Társaság" (Kisfaludy Society) and in the same year he was made a trustee of the Baumgarten Prize.

He became the editor-in-chief of Nyugat in 1929 (sharing the role until 1933 with Zsigmond Móricz), a position he held until his death.

In 1937, he was diagnosed as having laryngeal cancer. He died in Budapest in 1941.


Babits is best known for his lyric poetry, influenced by classical and English forms. He also wrote essays and translated much from English, French, German, Greek, Italian, and Latin. There is a museum in Szekszárd showcasing Mihály Babits's work and life. His brother István Babits occupied the house most of the time, with his two sons: István and Tibor.


  1. ^ Norwich, John Julius (1985–1993). Oxford illustrated encyclopedia. Judge, Harry George., Toyne, Anthony. Oxford [England]: Oxford University Press. p. 28. ISBN 0-19-869129-7. OCLC 11814265.
  2. ^ "The Nightmare" by Franz Rottensteiner in Frank N. Magill, ed. Survey of Modern Fantasy Literature, Vol 3. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Salem Press, Inc., 1983. pp. 1121-1123.
  3. ^ "Elza Pilota, vagy a tokeletes tarsadalom " by Péter Kuczka. In Frank N. Magill, ed. Survey of Science Fiction Literature, Vol. 2. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Salem Press, 1979. (pp. 708-711). ISBN 0-89356-194-0

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