Hamlet, Petőfi and the Poet’s Mandate: Poems by János Arany, Éva Finta and Gábor Tompa

Márta Minier


This article examines some of the intricate intertextuality with Hamlet in Hungarian poetry by analysing poems by János Arany, Éva Finta and Gábor Tompa which engage with various characters from the play: Hamlet, Gertrude, the ghost, Yorick, the court jester and Horatio, the chronicler-friend. From within the widespread and multi-faceted presence of Hamlet in Hungarian poetry, the selected poems present Shakespeare as a nostrified or naturalised Hungarian who appears in conjunction with one of the Romantic practitioners of the Hungarian Shakespeare myth, Sándor Petőfi. The article elucidates this curious case of poems from the nineteenth century onwards, which have a dual heritage, from Hamlet and from Petőfi simultaneously. Recognised as the supreme national poet, as well as being a Shakespeare translator, Petőfi is a necessary presence in these Hamlet poems, in particular his role as a poet with a mandate to serve the broader community.

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New Readings — ISSN: 13597485

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Published by: Cardiff School of Modern Languages