Imre Madách de Sztregova et de Kelecsény (January 21, 1823 - October 5, 1864) was a Hungarian writer, poet, lawyer and politician. His major work is The Tragedy of Man (Az ember tragédiája, 1861). It is a dramatic poem approximately 4000 lines long, which elaborates on ideas comparable to Goethe's Faust. The author was encouraged and advised by János Arany, one of the most famous of 19th century Hungarian poets.
The dramatic poem The Tragedy of Man is Madách's major and most enduring piece of writing. Today it is the central piece of Hungarian theaters' repertoire and is mandatory reading for students in secondary school. Many lines have become common quotes in Hungary. Madách, then a country nobleman with virtually no literary experience, sent the work to the poet Arany who enthusiastically encouraged him and suggested some emendations to the text. The piece was at first only published in printed form, not staged, because the many changes of scene (15 scenes) were hard to come by through the technical standards of the day.
The main characters are Adam, Eve and Lucifer. The three travel through time to visit different turning-points in human history and Lucifer tries to convince Adam that life is (will be) meaningless and mankind is doomed. Adam and Lucifer are introduced at the beginning of each scene, with Adam assuming various important historical roles and Lucifer usually acting as a servant or confidant. Eve enters only later in each scene. The Tragedy of Man contains fifteen scenes, with ten historical periods represented.