Count Stephan Széchenyi

Count Stephan Széchenyi

Andreas Oplatka

Aristocrat and romantic, globetrotter and landowner, officer in the Hapsburg army, founder of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, pioneer of the first railways – Stephan Széchenyi (1791-1860), although a man of the 19th century, was, in many respects, far ahead of his time. His initiative and desire for action set the stage for a new, modern Hungary.

Andreas Oplatka has dedicated an exemplary biography to this figure on the threshold of modernity, presenting Széchenyi as a bon vivant who, inspired by the example of Montaigne, Rousseau and Adam Smith, sought to awaken Hungarian national sentiments, fought for the abandonment of aristocratic privilege and claimed that all citizens should be equal before the law. At the same time, Széchenyi was no revolutionist, he mistrusted the idea of government by the people and for the people. At the end of his life, the count who had achieved so many things found himself isolated between all sets of opinion. For some he was too Hapsburgian, insufficiently committed to the nation's needs, while for others he was too rebellious. In 1860, he committed suicide in Vienna. Andreas Oplatka's biography compellingly portrays an exceptional personality, and provides a panoramic view of an entire era.

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Osiris Kiádo (Hungary)

Count Stephan Széchenyi

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