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The Day of Wrath   By: (1825-1904)

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First Page:

WORKS OF MAURUS JÓKAI

HUNGARIAN EDITION

THE DAY OF WRATH

Translated from the Hungarian

By

R. NISBET BAIN

[Illustration: Publisher's logo]

NEW YORK DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & COMPANY

COPYRIGHT, 1900, BY McCLURE, PHILLIPS & CO.

CONTENTS.

CHAPTER PAGE I. THE BIRD OF ILL OMEN 11 II. THE HEADSMAN'S FAMILY 18 III. A CHILDISH MALEFACTOR 44 IV. A DIVINE VISITATION 56 V. THE UNBELOVED SON 62 VI. TWO FAMOUS PÆDAGOGUES 71 VII. A MAN OF IRON 93 VIII. THE POLISH WOMAN 121 IX. THE PLAGUE 175 X. A LEADER OF THE PEOPLE 189 XI. THE FIRST SPARK 210 XII. IN THE MIDST OF THE FIRE 236 XIII. THE LEATHER BELL 25O XIV. THE SENTENCE OF DEATH 264 XV. OIL UPON THE WATERS 277 XVI. 'TIS WELL THAT THE NIGHT IS BLACK 291 XVII. THE VOICE OF THE LORD 326 XVIII. THE READY DUG GRAVES 336

PREFACE.

"Szomorú Napok" was written in the darkest days of Maurus Jókai's life, and reflects the depression of a naturally generous and sanguine nature bowed down, for a time, beneath an almost unendurable load of unmerited misfortune. The story was written shortly after the collapse of the Magyar Revolution of 1848 49, when Hungary lay crushed and bleeding under the heel of triumphant Austria and her Russian ally; when, deprived of all her ancient political rights and liberties, she had been handed over to the domination of the stranger, and saw her best and noblest sons either voluntary exiles, or suspected rebels under police surveillance. Jókai also was in the category of the proscribed. He had played a conspicuous part in the Revolution; he had served his country with both pen and sword; and, now that the bloody struggle was over, and the last Honved army had surrendered to the Russians, Jókai, disillusioned and broken hearted, was left to piece together again as best he might, the shattered fragments of a ruined career.

No wonder, then, if to the author of "Szomorú Napok," the whole world seemed out of joint. The book itself is, primarily, a tale of suffering, crime, and punishment; but it is also a bitter satire on the crying abuses and anomalies due to the semi feudal condition of things which had prevailed in Hungary for centuries, the reformation and correction of which had been the chief mission of the Liberal Party in Hungary to which Jókai belonged. The brutal ignorance of the common people, the criminal neglect of the gentry which made such ignorance possible, the imbecility of mere mob rule, and the mischievousness of demagogic pedantry these are the objects of the author's satiric lash.

As literature, despite the occasional crudities and extravagances of a too exuberant genius that has yet to learn self restraint, "Szomorú Napok" stands very high. It is animated by a fine, contagious indignation, and its vividly terrible episodes, which appal while they fascinate the reader, seem to be written in characters of blood and fire. The descriptions of the plague stricken land and the conflagration of the headsman's house must be numbered among the finest passages that have ever flowed from Jókai's pen. But the mild, idyllic strain, so characteristic of Jókai, who is nothing if not romantic, runs through the sombre and lurid tableau like a bright silver thread, and the dénouement , in which all enmities are reconciled, all evil doers are punished, and Gentleness and Heroism receive their retributive crowns, is a singularly happy one.

Moreover, in "Szomorú Napok" will be found some of Jókai's most original characters, notably, the ludicrous, if infinitely mischievous, political crotcheteer, "Numa Pompilius;" the drunken cantor, Michael Kordé, whose grotesque adventure in the dog kennel is a true Fantasiestück à la Callot ; the infra human Mekipiros; the half crazy Leather bell; and that fine, soldierly type, General Vértessy... Continue reading book >>




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