Issues of Assimilation, Language and Identity in the Lives of Young Max Nordau and Tivadar Herzl


  • Hedvig Ujvári Pázmány Péter Catholic University, Hungary



Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, Max Nordau, Theodor Herzl, bilingualism, Judaism


The name of Theodor Herzl (Herzl Tivadar) evokes his Hungarian ties and the major stages of his life and work with relative ease, but doctor, writer and journalist Max Nordau (1849, Pest – 1923, Paris), requires a more delicate approach, having essentially sunk into oblivion despite his prolificacy in literature and his wide-ranging Zionist activities. In the case of Max Nordau, the second personality discussed in this paper, the aim of this paper is not to remedy the lack of information on Nordau, but to draw a comparison and a parallel between the years Nordau and Herzl spent in Pest in terms of assimilation and issues of language and identity. We first highlight events that are relevant to Nordau and Herzl‟s family background, schooling, school transfers and university education, and then discuss in greater detail the linguistic and cultural paradigm shift that began in 1861 and forced Nordau first into a defensive position and then into isolation both socio-culturally and occupationally, but led to well-balanced bilingualism in Herzl‟s case.

Author Biography

Hedvig Ujvári, Pázmány Péter Catholic University, Hungary

Hedvig Ujvári received an MA in German and Hungarian Studies at the József Attila University (Szeged), and completed her PhD in 2004 at Eötvös Lóránd University (Budapest). Since 2003 she has been teaching the history of the press and the social history of the media at the Pázmány Péter Catholic University. She has won several scholarships and research grants in Hungary, Austria, and in Germany. Her publications address issues of the history of the German-language press in nineteenth-century Hungary. She is the author of Dekadenzkritik aus der “Provinzstadt”: Max Nordaus Pester Publizistik (Budapest, 2007), Kulturtransfer in Kakanien: Zur Jókai-Rezeption in der deutschsprachigen Presse Ungarns (1867-1882) (Berlin, 2011), and Zwischen Bazar und Weltpolitik: Die Wiener Weltausstellung 1873 in Feuilletons von Max Nordau im Pester Lloyd (Berlin, 2011). Her current research focuses on the role of the Hungarian German-language press, as well as on the reception of Hungarian literature in German-speaking countries.






Cluster Articles: Hungarian Borders, Immigration, Diasporas