‘The Tragedy of Man’

Imre Madách (1823 – 1864) was an aristocratic writer, poet, lawyer and politician and The Tragedy of Man, a dramatic poem of approximately 4,000 lines, is his major work.

Inspired by ideas from Goethe’s Faust and Milton’s Paradise Lost, this colossal poem was mainly triggered by the tragic events which resulted from the failed Hungarian War of 1848/49, in which Madách suffered personal troubles, mishaps and familial losses. Today, this dramatic poem remains the central piece in Hungarian theatre.

The Tragedy of Man has three major characters: Adam, Eve and Lucifer. All three travel through turning points of human history and Lucifer interminably tries to convince Adam that life is meaningless and mankind is doomed.

Adam hangs obstinately on and, regardless, delves even further into important historical events, with Lucifer eventually acting both as a servant and a confidant. Eve enters later in each scene, all 15 of them, as the drama evolves in and through 10 historical periods.

With his translation It-Traġedja tal-Bniedem, Carmel Mallia, poet, author and an Esperantist par excellence, has shown his mettle as a translator. This great work was translated into Esperanto from the original Hungarian by Kalman Kalocsay and from Esperanto into Maltese by Mallia; indeed, it was no mean task.

This poem is very difficult, both as a literary work itself as well as a work for the theatre. It was written in the 19th century; thus, modern Maltese words had to be safely kept at a distance, for the sake of historical and textual harmony, carefully avoiding lapsing into the archaic.

The translator further had the difficulty of highlighting Madách’s cynical and highly dramatic undertones, always careful to keep the whole drama alive in every line, each word lashing and hitting mercilessly and relentlessly as in the original text.

And Mallia came out of it all with honours. Indeed, this dramatic and very difficult poem is one of the major literary works of all time. As with all the others, it reflects humanity in its striking reality, in all its aspects, particularly the tragic ones: an illusory flight, a dream, called life, that alternates between the corporal and the spiritual, sadness and joy, despair and hope, ultimately leading to the inevitable end, leaving only hopeful and consoling aspirations as to what may (probably) follow afterwards.


St John’s Co-Cathedral Foundation – an inspired solution

St John's Co-Cathedral. Photo: Shutterstock.comSt John's Co-Cathedral. Photo: Shutterstock.com

In his article on the centuries-old conflicting claims of ownership by the Malta government and the Church in Malta regarding St John’s Co-Cathedral (February 26), Charles Xuereb concluded by making a very short reference to the St John’s Co-Cathedral Foundation.

I want to emphasise that the establishment of this foundation in 2001 was an inspired national decision. Finally, two commanding forces looked each other in the eye and decided to freeze their differences on the simple but noble premise that St John’s ultimately belonged to Malta.

And the two opposing factions fused their efforts to help this unique monument regain its former glory. The foundation has worked hard and most efficiently and continues to offer its very best to restore, conserve and revamp this hallowed place.

It is a shining example of the triumph of the common good for our dear nation, which can only be accomplished when opposing forces join their unreserved and generous efforts to achieve a national goal for this sweet land of ours.

May it continue to thrive and inspire.


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