Saturday, February 18, 2017

Born Today February 18: Mór Jókai


Hungarian writer Mór Jókai was born Móric Jókay de Ásva in Komárom, Hungary (the town is now located in Slovakia) on this date in 1825.  He had nobility on both sides of his family.  He was home schooled until the age of 10, after which he was sent to a Calvinist college to complete his education.  After his father died when he was only 12, he followed his father's profession and studied the law.  He did become a full advocate; argued and won cases; but he found the law profession dull and boring, so he began writing.  He finished his first play when he was barely past the age of twenty.  In 1848, he married famed stage actress Róza Laborfalvi.  When war broke out that same year, he went into the service, but backed the Hungarian side to depose the Habsburg dynasty and was captured.  He actually planned to commit suicide to avoid being sent to prison, however he wife was able to secure his release instead.  He was after wards active in politics, especially later in life.  Amongst other accomplishments in his life, he can be counted as one of the earliest science fiction pioneers; his book (translated) The Novel Of The Next Century was oddly prophetic and included elements, such as flying machines.  He was proud to write in his native Hungarian language and was very much tied up with his Hungarian identity.  The first film to be made from his writings came in 1915 with The Hungarian Nabob, an American film produced by Biograph (it would be one of the only English language films to be made of his work as of this writing).  Biograph also produced another film from his work a year later:  The Iron Will (1916).  The first film to be produced in his native Hungary came in 1917 with Mire megvénülünk (a partial restored edition is available today).  In all, 13 films using his work as source material were produced in the silent era.  The first full sound film to utilize his work came in 1935 with the German produced The Gypsy Baron:  a musical.  Even animated films have used his writing for scenarios, such as the 1985 Hungarian film The Treasure Of Swamp Castle.  The most recent film to use his work for a screenplay, came in 2006, with the Hungarian made for television Melyiket a kilenc közül?.  Jókai died on 5 May 1904 in Budapest at the age of 79.  He is buried with his wife in Kerepesi Cemetery there.  

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