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Johann, Graf von Majláth

born: 1786
died: 1855
country: Germany

Johann Graf Majláth was born in Pest but lived much of his life in Vienna where he was a member of the 'Hungari' group of bilingual poets who sought to reconcile fealty to the Hapsburg Emperors with a patriotic pride in their own Hungarian culture. In Majláth's case this divided loyalty caused great mental stress. A disciple of Herder and Tieck, he was more renowned as a historian and translator than admired as a poet. Majláth later moved to Munich; he ended up at Lake Starnberg ('the last refuge of many of the world-weary of that generation' – Fischer Dieskau) where financial ruin drove him to a suicide pact with his daughter. Read in the light of this knowledge, the poem's pessimistic theme is a sign of the temperamental instability of its author.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 1993


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