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The page of Kassák Lajos, English biography

Image of Kassák Lajos
Kassák Lajos

Biography

Born March 21, 1887 in Érsekújvár; died July 22, 1967 in Budapest. Novelist, short-story writer, poet, painter. Father an assistant technician in pharmaceutical laboratory. Difficult financial circumstances forced him to work early in life. Left school when 12 and became apprentice locksmith. Worked at trade for few months in Győr and then went to Budapest, where he was employed as ironworker in various factories in Angyalföld. Joined Munkás egylet and participated in many strikes and demonstrations. First poem published in 1908, and poems appeared regularly in Független Magyarország by 1909. In 1909 he went on walking tour of Austria, Germany, and Belgium, and visited Paris until he was deported as vagrant. Made literary career his objective on return to Budapest. Joined Social Democratic party but affiliated himself with anarchical-antimilitary group in 1913. Founded A Tett in 1915, which became center for young writers seeking new literary forms and opposing war; among them were Aladár Komját, József Révai, and Tibor Déry (q.v.). A Tett was banned in fall of 1916 but soon revived as Ma. Welcomed October Revolution in 1918 and participated in formation of Revolutionary Government. Member of Vörösmarty Academy in 1918. Also member of Writers' Directory and directorial board of Writers Union. Worked for Közoktatásügyi Népbiztosság. Did not join Communist party and opposed Béla Kun publicly in summer of 1919. Imprisoned after failure of Revolutionary Government. Emigrated to Vienna. Continued to edit Ma in Vienna and founded 2 X 2 with Andor Németh in 1923. Returned to Budapest in 1927. Published and edited Dokumentum for short time and then in 1928 founded Munka, which ceased in 1939. Withdrew from active life during World War II. Edited Alkotás 1947-1948 and the short-lived Kortárs. Awarded Kossuth Prize in 1965. Also a recognized member of constructivist school of painting; exhibits held in Vienna (1921), Berlin (1922), Budapest, and Paris (1960).
Important advocate of avant-gardism in Hungarian literature. Early writings showed strong avant-gardism and socialistic themes. Turned next to realism, then abandoned social motifs for highly subjective expression of private and individual thoughts and emotions. His viewpoints much affected by attachment to proletarian class. Novels and short stories are very didactic. Poetry influenced by Walt Whitman. Intended his writings to help with the establishment of a just society in Hungary.
Some of his poems have been translated into English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Polish, Rumanian, Russian, Serbian, and Slovakian.

Hungarian Authors. A Bibliographical Handbook by Albert Tezla
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