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Fenyő, Miksa

(1877–1972), economist, politician, writer, and publisher. Miksa Fenyő—who changed his name from Fleischmann in 1895—was raised in Mélykútin in modest circumstances (his father was a tailor) but graduated from the prestigious Lutheran Central Gymnasium of Budapest. After finishing his legal studies, he maintained a law practice in Budapest from 1900. In 1903, he became vice secretary of the Magyarországi Gyáriparosok Országos Szövetségének (Hungarian Federation of Industrialists; GyOSz), its secretary from 1904, acting director from 1907, and director from 1918. From 1912, he was the director of the Center for Hungarian Customs Policy and the editor of the periodical Magyar Gyáripar. In 1913, he converted to Catholicism.

On 29 October 1918, Fenyő served as minister of commerce in the government of János Hadik, a government that lasted just one day. From the fall of 1918 he then was a leader of the bourgeois opposition to the government of Mihály Károlyi. After the Trianon Treaty, Fenyő actively supported the revisionist movement. He was a productive economic writer, publishing numerous articles and texts. In retrospect, however, his literary activities were even more important than his work as an economist and journalist.

Fenyő supported and popularized modern Hungarian literature from its very birth. His first critical writings and essays appeared in Magyar Géniusz and in Figyelő. In 1908, he helped found Nyugat (The West), the leading twentieth-century Hungarian literary publication that was published until 1941. Fenyő was its editor (1908–1917), principal contributor (1921–1929), copublisher (1914–1925), and, with Lajos Hatvany, the main financial supporter. He strove to make Nyugat the central literary forum of bourgeois intelligentsia. Among his accomplishments, he promoted the poetry of Endre Ady. Fenyő himself published travelogues and literary essays.

Between 1931 and 1935, Fenyő was an independent representative to parliament from the Nagykapos electoral district. Resigning in 1938 from his post at the Hungarian Federation of Industrialists, he went into hiding in Budapest when Germany occupied Hungary (19 March 1944), and remained so until the city’s liberation (January 1945). Between 1945 and 1948, he was again a leading figure and commercial director of GyOSz. At the end of 1948, however, he left the country, first for Rome and Paris, and in 1953 for New York. From 1970 until his death he lived in Vienna.

Fenyő’s main works included Följegyzések a “Nyugat” folyóiratról és környékéről (Notes about the Periodical Nyugat; 1960); his autobiographical travel memoir Ami kimaradt az Odysseából (What Was Left out of the Odyssey; 1963); Az elsodort ország (The Swept Country [journal entries from the last phase of World War II; 1944–1945]; 1946); and Önéletrajzom (My Autobiography; 1994). He donated his manuscripts to the Hungarian state in 1970.

Suggested Reading

Edit Erki, “Fenyő Miksa,” Élet és irodalom 21.49 (1977): 7; Tibor Melczer, “Fenyő Miksa száz éve,” Literatura [Budapest] 7.1 (1980): 128–131; Miklós Szabolcsi, “Fenyő Miksa,” Irodalomtörténeti közlemények 76.3 (1972): 416; Erzsébet Vezér, “Egy századeleji irodalmár portréja: Fenyő Miksa pályája a forradalmakig,” Irodalomtörténet 56.3 (1974): 556–594; Erzsébet Vezér, “Fenyő Miksa,” Orpheus [Budapest] 18 (1996): 236–241.



Translated from Hungarian by Veronika Szabó