Meaning of POLISH LITERATURE in English

body of writing in Polish, one of the Slavic languages. The Polish national literature holds an exceptional position in the life of the country. Over the centuries it has mirrored the turbulent events of Polish history and at times sustained Poland's cultural and political identity. A brief account of Polish literature follows. For full treatment, see Polish Literature. Poland's early literature was slow to emerge. The oldest documents, written in Latin, date from the 12th century, but the development of vernacular writing in the 14th and 15th centuries, hampered by internal disorders and destructive invasions, was late, and extant records are few. Although probably written in the 13th century, the earliest copy of a poetic text to have survived dates from 1407. The Golden Age of Polish literature occurred during the 16th century. The spread of Italian Renaissance influences, closer contacts with other countries, and a period of relative peace and stability encouraged a varied and confident expression. The first original Polish writer is Mikolaj Rej. The date of his verse debate (1543), belonging in content and style to the earlier period, conveniently marks the beginning of the new age. His contemporary, the poet Jan Kochanowski, a man truly of the Renaissance, is the outstanding early Polish writer. The richness of the literature of the period is represented by prose (Lukasz Grnicki), sermons (Piotr Skarga), political writings (Andrzej Modrzewski), idylls (Simonides), and sonnets (Mikolaj Sep Szarzynski). The stylistic tensions of 17th-century Baroque writing, with its exotic colour and textures, its vigorous, sharp contrasts, and unexpected twists, mirror those of a century plagued by religious discord and war. Courtly lyrics (Jan Andrzej Morsztyn), religious poetry (Zbigniew Morsztyn), historical epics (Samuel Twardowski), and the memoirs of the boisterous Jan Chryzostom Pasek exemplify the literature of this troubled age. Following a period of debility in the first part of the 18th century, the Age of Enlightenment during the reign of the last Polish king, Stanislaw II August Poniatowski, brought a vigorous revival in all areas of Poland's cultural, political, and intellectual life. Literature, journalism, publishing, political and educational reform, and the opening of a national theatre (1765) attest to the progressive attitudes of the age. Its best representative is Ignacy Krasicki. The poetry of Franciszek Karpinski and Franciszek Dionizy Kniaznin, the plays of Wojciech Boguslawski and Franciszek Bohomolec, and the writings of Julian Ursyn Niemcewicz are among the best examples of 18th-century Polish literature. The enthusiasm and passions that stirred the 19th-century Romantics were common everywhere, but in Poland they were soon charged by the drama of events. After the failure of the 1830 insurrection, Polish Romanticism assumed the guilt and the tragic sorrows of an oppressed and martyred nation. Written in exile, the bardic tones of Adam Mickiewicz's work (with its Promethean anguish and Messianic visions) and that of Juliusz Slowacki and Zygmunt Krasinski became an expression of the national spirit. These writers' major workswith their quest for self-identification, individual liberty, and questioning of historyare an enduring part of the Polish consciousness. The unsuccessful uprising of 1863 marked the end of earlier Romantic dreams. In the aftermath of a bitter defeat, the old idealism gave way to a new positivism with an emphasis on practical endeavour and social and political realism. The novels of Henryk Sienkiewicz, Boleslaw Prus, and Eliza Orzeszkowa (ranging from historical themes to social and contemporary problems) dominated the literature of the second part of the 19th century. Reacting against the constrictions of positivism, the Young Poland movement (18901918) vibrated with new names and new ideas. European and provokingly modernistic in its early, enthusiastic manifestos, it contained a wide variety of currents and styles. Its best examples embrace poetry (Kazimierz Tetmajer), symbolist drama (Stanislaw Wyspianski), and the novel (Stefan Zeromski). The short period of restored independence during the interwar years (191839) produced a literature of freshness and diversity. Apart from the work of the older writers such as Boleslaw Lesmian and Leopold Staff, the period witnessed the noisy inventions of the Futurists, the avant-garde poetry of Tadeusz Peiper and Julian Przybos, and the confident optimism of the Skamander poets. In prose there were the works of some of the major modern Polish writers: Maria Dabrowska, Witold Gombrowicz, Jerzy Andrzejewski, and Bruno Schulz; in the theatre were the plays of Jerzy Szaniawski and the innovative surrealism of Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz. After 1945 the experiences of war and occupation produced new topics for Polish writers, particularly since the lifting of Soviet-inspired Stalinist cultural controls in 1956. Whether distilling the tragedies of war or depicting the traumas of contemporary Polish life, the works of Zbigniew Herbert, Tadeusz Konwicki, Tadeusz Rzewicz, Slawomir Mrozek, and Stanislaw Lem, and of the older Czeslaw Milosz, provide mirrors of the modern Polish condition. body of writings in Polish, one of the Slavic languages. The Polish national literature holds an exceptional position in Poland. Over the centuries it has mirrored the turbulent events of Polish history and at times sustained the nation's cultural and political identity. Poland acquired a literary language in Latin when it became a Christian land in the 10th century, and thereafter literature in the Polish language was slow to emerge. Its development as a national literature was restrained in part by Poland's remoteness from cultural centres and the difficulties that assailed the young state, frequently attacked by plundering invaders and weakened by division into small principalities, and in part by the domination of foreign priests (when Mieszko I, prince of Poland, accepted Christianity in 966, in effect he placed his lands in the hands of the pope). This article reviews the literary history of Poland from its origins to the present day. Additional reading The best modern survey of Polish literature in English is Czeslaw Milosz, The History of Polish Literature, 2nd ed. (1983). Julian Krzyzanowski, A History of Polish Literature (1978; originally published in Polish, 1972), is also useful. For the various aspects of Polish literature, see Manfred Kridl, A Survey of Polish Literature and Culture, trans. from the Polish (1956; reprinted 1967); Julian Krzyzanowski, Polish Romantic Literature (1931; reprinted 1968); Waclaw Lednicki, Life and Culture of Poland as Reflected in Polish Literature (1944); Madeline G. Levine, Contemporary Polish Poetry, 19251975 (1981); W.J. Stankiewicz (ed.), The Tradition of Polish Ideals: Essays on Polish History and Literature (1981); and Tymon Terlecki, Literatura polska na obczyznie, 19401960, 2 vol. (196465), on Polish literature written abroad. For anthologies of texts, see Daniel Gerould (ed. and trans.), Twentieth-Century Polish Avant-Garde Drama: Plays, Scenarios, Critical Documents (1977); Adam Gillon and Ludwik Krzyzanowski (eds.), Introduction to Modern Polish Literature: An Anthology of Fiction and Poetry, 2nd ed. (1982); Maria Kuncewiczowa, The Modern Polish Mind: An Anthology (1962), a collection of stories and essays; Vasa D. Mihailovich et al. (eds.), Modern Slavic Literatures, vol. 2 (1976); and Jerzy Peterkiewicz and Burns Singer, Five Centuries of Polish Poetry, 14501970, 2nd ed. (1970, reprinted 1979). A useful guide in Polish is Julian Krzyzanowski et al., Literatura polska, 2 vol. (1984). Julian Krzyzanowski Jan Wojnowski B.W. Mazur The 19th century A second distinct period of Polish classicism, called pseudoclassicism, occurred in the early 19th century. In general, pseudoclassicist writing lacked freshness. During the Enlightenment period, literature had reestablished contact with the West and become the voice of national consciousness. Although it was the literature of a community undergoing a severe political crisis, it exercised an influence on neighbouring countries. Romanticism The Romantic period began later in Poland than in England or Germany, and it lasted longer. It has been regarded as the greatest period in Polish literature. The rise of Romanticism coincided with the loss of independence, and great writers found in it an expression of their own mood. A need to interpret their country's destiny gave the work of the three great Romantic poetsAdam Mickiewicz, Juliusz Slowacki, and Zygmunt Krasinskivisionary power and moral authority. Writing in exile, they kept faith in the restoration of Polish independence alive, and their concern gave the literature of the Polish Romantic movement its strength and passion. Mickiewicz was the greatest Polish poet and leader of the Romantic period. His Poezye (2 vol., 182223; Poetry) was the first major literary event of the period. In its second volume were included parts two and four of Dziady (Forefathers' Eve), in which he combined folklore and mystic atmosphere to create a new kind of Romantic drama. Mickiewicz' greatest works were written after 1824, when he was deported to Russia for revolutionary activities as a student; they included Sonety krymskie (1826; Sonnets from the Crimea); a visionary third part of Dziady (1832); a messianic interpretation of Poland's past and future destiny, Ksiegi narodu polskiego i pielgrzymstwa polskiego (1832; The Books of the Polish Nation and of the Polish Pilgrimage), written in biblical prose; and a great epic, Pan Tadeusz (1834; Master Thaddeus). The suppression of the insurrection of 183031 drove the cultural elite into exile in France; among poets whom Mickiewicz joined there were Slowacki, Krasinski, and Cyprian Kamil Norwid. Slowacki, a Romantic in the fullest sense, who in all his work showed genius, wrote verse narratives in the style of Byron and accomplished lyric poetry. He was inspired by patriotic themes: Kordian (1834) was a drama of conspiracy and problems of commitment. His subtle W Szwajcarii (1839; In Switzerland) is probably the finest lyrical work in Polish. Much of Slowacki's work was in dramatic form, and although written for an imaginary stage rather than for an intended production, it laid the foundations of Polish tragic drama. His plays showed the influence of French Romantic drama, Shakespeare, classical tragedy, and Caldern. The last years of Slowacki's life were devoted to writing Krl-Duch (1847; The Spirit King), an unfinished lyrical and symbolic epic describing the history of a people as a series of incarnations of the essential spirit of the nation. Zygmunt Krasinski, when 23, published (anonymously, as with all his works) Nieboska komedia (1835; The Undivine Comedy), which presented, for the first time in Europe, a struggle between opposed worlds of aristocracy and disinherited masses. Irydion (1836; Iridion), his second play, was an allegory of Poland's fate. In Przedswit (1843; Daybreak) he developed a messianic interpretation of Polish history, and this conception of Poland as the Christ among the nations was also expounded in Psalmy przyszlosci (1845; Psalms of the Future). The introduction of fantastic or supernatural elements into a realistic setting was characteristic of many Polish Romantic works. The genius of Cyprian Norwid was not fully recognized until the 20th century. During his lifetime he was misjudged and remained obscure, partly because he accepted some ideas of Romanticism while criticizing others but even more because of his ironic intellectual reserve. Among the most important works published in his lifetime was a verse dialogue on aesthetics, Promethidion (1851), which expounded a theory of the social and moral function of art anticipating that of John Ruskin. An authentic text of his most important lyrical collection, Vade-mecum, was first published in 1947. Norwid experimented with free verse and with the rhythms of speech, and, furthermore, he foreshadowed the French Symbolists in his analogical method of presenting the poetic concept. The lesser talents of early Romanticism formed the Polish Ukrainian school, of whom Antoni Malczewski was outstanding as the author of a single poem, the Romantic verse narrative Maria (1825), a tale of love and treachery remarkable for original diction, dramatic tension, and unity of mood. There were fewer prose writers than poets among the exiles. Zygmunt Milkowski (pseudonym Teodor Tomasz Jez) wrote on a wide range of subjects, including folklore and the history of the Balkan countries. The literary criticism of Maurycy Mochnacki, a passionate advocate of Romanticism and the first Polish critic to link literature with Poland's political progress, exercised a strong and not wholly beneficial influence on literary theory. The historical works of Joachim Lelewel, a great, many-sided scholar, were an impressive example of the prose of the period. As a result of partition, Romantic poetry in Poland was limited to closed provincial circles. In Warsaw a group of young poets was formed, but its activities were restricted by political pressure. Its most fully developed talent was that of Teofil Lenartowicz. Ryszard Wincenty Berwinski, a poet of social radicalism, wrote Poezje (1844) and Studia o literaturze ludowej (1854; Studies on Folk Literature), which marked a step away from Romantic nationalist interpretations and stressed the international community of folk tradition. Prose was more popular with writers in Poland than with those in exile. Henryk Rzewuski belonged spiritually to the 18th century: Pamiatki J. Pana Seweryna Soplicy (1839; Memoirs of Mister Seweryn Soplica) evoked the atmosphere of the Baroque tradition. As the century progressed, signs of a Realistic tendency were discernible in Jzef Korzeniowski's novels Spekulant (1846; The Speculator) and Kollokacja (1847; The Collocation). A woman novelist, Narcyza Zmichowska (pseudonym Gabryella), produced Poganka (1846; The Pagan), a psychological allegory anticipating 20th-century sensibility in its subtle analysis of feeling. The dominant figure among prose writers was Jzef Ignacy Kraszewski, whose output ran into hundreds of volumes of fiction, history, ethnography, criticism, and so on. His imaginative writings reflected a change of literary styles during his long career. Banished in 1863, he continued to influence Polish writers at home and in exile, maintaining the Polish cause by his manifold activities. Polish Romanticism, conscious of its role as the torch of national spirit, retained its force as a mode of thinking beyond the period of the political circumstances that fostered it. It produced works of highest artistic value, which excited the interest of foreign writers. Mickiewicz influenced Slavonic literatures and was compared by George Sand with Goethe and Byron. Slowacki's poetic technique proved of fundamental importance to writers at the end of the 19th century, whereas Norwid's influence grew steadily stronger in the 20th century. The political implications of the Romantic movement led to the insurrection of 1863, which ended in Poland's becoming a province of Russia. The 20th century The Young Poland movement The Young Poland movement describes several different groups and tendencies united by opposition to positivism, and a desire to return to imagination in literature; hence its other name, Neoromanticism. Among its pioneers were Antoni Lange, a poet, and Zenon Przesmycki (pseudonym Miriam), editor of a Symbolist review, Chimera. Both made translations from a number of other languages and expressed aesthetic theories in critical essays. Przesmycki's most influential contribution to a development of modern literature was his discovery of Cyprian Norwid. Kazimierz Tetmajer achieved popularity with his nostalgic Poezje (18911924), but his prose had greater vigour and precision of observation, Na skalnym Podhalu (190310; Tales of the Tatras) containing some effectively stylized folk material. An interesting poet, Jan Kasprowicz, was of peasant origin. His principal contribution to Polish literature lay in the structure of his longer lyrical poems; those in the volume Ginacemu swiatu (1901; To a Dying World) employed a technique of association, quotation, musical repetition, and free metre that anticipated the early style of such poets as T.S. Eliot. Tadeusz Micinski, a forerunner of Expressionism and Surrealism, wrote philosophical and mystical poems and plays, notably a collection of poems, W mroku gwiazd (1902; In the Twilight of the Stars), and a play, Kniaz Patiomkin (1906; Prince Potemkin). The lyrical poet Leopold Staff, whose work shows great variety and technical dexterity, was at this period associated with the Young Poland movement, although some of his finest work was written later. Stanislaw Przybyszewski was a leading exponent of the movement's new aesthetic theories and edited a literary magazine, Zycie (Life). Stefan Zeromski expressed passionate concern for social justice and national freedom in widely read works, but an excess of Realist documentation frequently vitiated the power of his later work. W ladyslaw Stanislaw Reymont, of peasant stock, adapted the Naturalistic technique to create a vision of peasant life in an epic novel cycle, Chlopi (4 vol., 190409; The Peasants), for which he received the Nobel Prize for Literature for 1924. One of the most effective novels of the period, Zywot i mysli Zygmunta Podfilipskiego (1898; The Life and Thoughts of Zygmunt Podfilipski), by Jzef Weyssenhoff, presented an ironical portrait of the egoist in society. Waclaw Berent's Prchno (1903; Rotten Wood) portrayed with biting irony the late 19th-century decadence of life and art. His Ozimina (1911; Winter Corn), a Symbolist novel, foreshadowed the associative structure and narrative technique of James Joyce's Ulysses (1922). His Zywe kamienie (1918; The Living Stones) stressed the unity of medieval culture and Poland's place within it. A bold experiment antedating by several years the psychoanalytical novel in western Europe was Paluba (1903; The Hag) by Karol Irzykowski. In it, motivation and behaviour were presented from different viewpoints, ingeniously cemented by the author's own analyses, as in a scientific study. Irzykowski was also a critic and, in Dziesiata muza (1924; The 10th Muse), the first to give attention to the cinema as an art form. Stanislaw Brzozowski, an outstanding critic, insisted that a critic must represent the moral consciousness of his age; in Legenda Mlodej Polski (1909; The Legend of Young Poland) he analyzed the weakness of the period's literature and expounded his view of the unity of all workphysical, technical, intellectual, and artistic. Stanislaw Wyspianski was an artist and dramatist of genius. In his plays he reforged elements from classical tragedy and mythology, Polish Romantic drama, and national history in a complex whole. Wesele (1901; The Wedding) was a visionary parable of Poland's past, present, and problematical future, cast in the form of the traditional puppet-theatre play. It was a masterpiece of evocative allusion, tragedy, and humour. The literature of the period was characterized by close contact with western European literatures, but writers such as Wyspianski turned back to the Polish Romantics in a search for new poetic language. Literature in restored Poland The restoration of independence in 1918 decisively affected Polish literature. The period between 1918 and 1939 was characterized by richness and variety and increasing contact with other European literatures, especially through publication of many translations. For nearly a decade after 1918 lyrical poetry predominated. A periodical, Zdrj (The Fountainhead), showed affinities with German Expressionism. In Warsaw several poets formed a group called Skamander, from the name of their monthly publication; it was united by a desire to forge a poetic language, attuned to modern life. Julian Tuwim, a poet of emotional power and linguistic sensitivity, headed the group, and during World War II, in exile in Brazil and the United States, wrote a long, discursive, autobiographical poem, Kwiaty polskie (1949; Polish Flowers). Among Skamander members were Jan Lechon, Kazimierz Wierzynski (both died abroad after World War II), Antoni Slonimski, and Jaroslaw Iwaszkiewicz, who was also a prolific prose writer; among sympathizers of the group were two eminent woman poets, Maria Pawlikowska-Jasnorzewska and Kazimiera Illakowiczwna, and Wladyslaw Broniewski, a poet with strong left-wing sympathies, who became a master of the revolutionary lyric, expressing involvement in current social and ideological problems. A writer of importance was Boleslaw Lesmian, whose symbolic, Expressionist poetry was remarkable for the inventiveness of its vocabulary, sensuous imagery, and philosophic content, all anticipating Existentialism. He published only three notable collectionsLaka (1920; The Meadow), Napj cienisty (1936; The Shadowy Drink), and Dziejba lesna (posthumous, 1938; Woodland Tale)but has been recognized by his admirers as the most outstanding 20th-century Polish lyrical poet. Other experimental movements, such as Futurism, followed revolutionary trends in poetryparticularly in Italy and Russia. More original was a group called Awangarda Krakowska (Vanguard of Krakw). Led by Tadeusz Peiper, it produced few works but had widespread influence in the regeneration of poetic technique. Two of its adherents, Julian Przybos and Adam Wazyk, who was loosely connected with the movement, ranked among the outstanding poets of the post-World War II period. Also noteworthy was Jzef Czechowicz, who assimilated traditional and regional elements to the new style. Prose writing reached its ascendancy in the second decade of independence. Early stories by Zofia Nalkowska belonged to the Young Poland movement and aimed to expose the feminine psyche; later she turned to other themes, striving for narrative objectivity and technical simplicity. Two other women writers of distinction were Zofia Kossak-Szczucka, noted for historical novels, and Maria Kuncewiczowa, who wrote psychological novels. Juliusz Kaden-Bandrowski used experimental Realism in Czarne skrzydla (192829; Black Wings) and Mateusz Bigda (1933), which treated social and political themes. Michal Choromanski's Zazdrosc i medycyna (1933; Jealousy and Medicine) used experimental methods of narrative sequence and was remarkable for its clinical analysis of character. A writer skilled in reflecting subtleties of perception was Bruno Schulz, author of Sklepy cynamonowe (1934; Cinnamon Shops), whose prose was reminiscent of that of Kafka. Tadeusz Zelenski (pseudonym Boy), witty, irreverent, and widely read, was a leading literary critic and one of Poland's best interpreters of French literature. The essay form was represented by Jan Parandowski, whose main theme was the classical culture of Greece and Rome. A subversive attack on intellectual and social conventions was launched in Ferdydurke (1937; Eng. trans., Ferdydurke) by Witold Gombrowicz, who displayed in it a satirical talent reminiscent of Alfred Jarry. The taste for the cyclic novel was satisfied by Maria Dabrowska with Noce i dnie (4 vol., 193234; Nights and Days), an outstanding modern Polish example of a chronicle novel in epic style, about the development of the Polish intelligentsia of upper-middle-class origin. The drama was the weakest of the literary forms during this period and returned to the Young Poland's especially symbolic form (Karol Hubert Rostworowski, Jerzy Szaniawski). The experimental dramas of Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz were of interest chiefly for their expression of anti-Realist aesthetic theories; he developed many ideas of the Awangarda, applied the principles of pure form to painting and drama, and was the main exponent of a movement in Polish literature known as catastrophism. Obsessed with the idea of a disintegration of European culture, endangered by totalitarian ideologies, and an attempt to impose the uniformity of a mass society, he developed his ideas in plays combining elements of Surrealism, grotesque misrepresentation, and what later became known (in the plays of Eugne Ionesco, for example, whose work Witkiewicz to some extent foreshadowed) as the Theatre of the Absurd. His novels Pozegnanie jesieni (1927; Farewell to Autumn) and Nienasycenie (1930; Insatiability) expressed the same philosophy. After World War II his work attracted interest abroad and appeared in translation (e.g., The Madman and the Nun and Other Plays, 1968). The Baroque period The Baroque period began very early in Poland. In 1564 Poland invited the Jesuits to settle in the country, and from about 1570 Protestant influence began to wane. The Baroque style and outlook were congenial to the Polish spirit; the period was one of considerable literary output, in spite of almost incessant wars. Indeed, perhaps it mirrored, in its stylistic tension, the external strife characteristic of the 17th century. Poetry A forerunner of Baroque poetry was Mikolaj Sep Szarzynski, who wrote predominantly religious poetry akin to that of the English Metaphysical poets. In this period satire and pastoral were the most popular forms. Foremost among satirists was Krzysztof Opalinski. His Satyry albo przestrogi do naprawy rzadu i obyczajw w Polszcze nalezace (1650; Satires or Warnings on the Reform of the Government and Customs in Poland) is bitter, pessimistic, and wide-ranging. The pastoral was represented by Samuel Twardowski, author of Daphnis drzewem bobkowym (1638; Daphne into Laurel Tree) and a romance Nadobna Pasqualina (1655; Fair Pasqualina), a tale of sacred and profane love, in which Polish Baroque achieves its most finely wrought splendour. The Roxolanki (1654), a collection of love songs by Szymon Zimorowic, and the Sielanki nowe ruskie (1663; New Ruthenian Idylls), written by his brother Jzef Bartlomiej Zimorowic, introduced topical dramatic elements into the traditional pastoral lyric; images of war and death are superimposed upon the pastoral background, with macabre effect and typical Baroque incongruity. A parallel but less formalized rustic genre produced much verse celebrating rural life. One of the more successful examples is the Votum by Zbigniew Morsztyn, whose finest achievement, however, was in religious poetry. In contrast was the work of his cousin, Jan Andrzej Morsztyn, whose language was marked by the extravagant style of 16th-century Italian. The formal complexity and skill of his verse were unsurpassed; and his translation of the French dramatist Pierre Corneille's Le Cid has remained the standard Polish version. The age was characterized by ambition to write heroic epicsa preoccupation to be explained perhaps by historical events: wars with Sweden, Russia, and Turkey, internal revolts, and attempts to introduce constitutional reforms. The Italian poet Torquato Tasso's Gerusalemme liberata (1581; Jerusalem Liberated), brilliantly translated by Piotr Kochanowski, inspired attempts at epics on national themes, notably the vigorous Wojna chocimska (written 1670, published 1850; The War of Chocim) by Waclaw Potocki. Another epic, the Psalmodia polska (1695; Polish Psalmody), by Wespazjan Kochowski, was written under the impact of John III Sobieski's victory over the Turks at Vienna in 1683, at which Kochowski was present. The work was the first example of a theme developed by writers of the Romantic movementthe messianic interpretation of Poland's destiny. The Enlightenment Close contact with western Europe, especially France and England, characterized literature of the Enlightenment period in Poland, whose writers were imbued with a desire to save the national culture from effects of partition and foreign rule. Literary developments included the rise of drama; introduction of the periodical and the novel; publication of the first Polish dictionary; and, in poetry, the introduction of dumy (ballads). Rise of the Polish drama Drama was established late in Poland. The earliest significant event was the inauguration of a national theatre in Warsaw in 1765. There were three principal dramatists: Franciszek Bohomolec, who satirized the aristocracy in adaptations of Molire; Wojciech Boguslawski, who wrote a popular national comic opera, Cud mniemany czyli Krakowiacy i grale (1794; The Pretended Miracle or Krakovians and Highlanders); and Franciszek Zablocki, important for Fircyk w zalotach (1781; The Dandy's Courtship) and Sarmatyzm (1785; Sarmatian Ways). Aleksander Fredro's comedies appeared when the Romantic movement was under way, and in them the influences of Molire and Carlo Goldoni were assimilated, as Zemsta (1834; Vengeance) illustrated. They were remarkable for brilliant type characterization, ingenious construction, and metrical facility. The Middle Ages Religious writings As in other European countries, Latin was at first the only literary language of Poland, and early writings included saints' lives and annals and chronicles written by monks and priests. Two among these works are most important: the Chronicon, compiled in about 1115 by a Benedictine known only as Gallus Anonymous, and the Annales seu cronicae inclyti Regni Poloniae, written in about 1480 by Bishop Jan Dlugosz. The two works introduced Polish history and literature into the culture of Europe. Use of the vernacular was allowed by the church where Latin could not meet particular needsin prayers, sermons, and songs; and the oldest surviving text of poetry in Polish is a song in honour of the Virgin Mary, Bogurodzica, in which language and rhythm are used with high artistic craftsmanship. The earliest extant copy of the text dates from 1407, but its origins are much earlier. Preaching in Polish became established toward the end of the 13th century; the earliest known example of Polish prose, the Kazania swietokrzyskie (Sermons of the Holy Cross), dating from the end of the 13th or the beginning of the 14th century, was discovered in 1890. Part of a translation of the Bible, made in about 1455 for Queen Sofia, widow of Wladyslaw II Jagiello, has also survived. Early secular literature Secular works began to appear toward the second part of the 15th century. There was a poem criticizing the papacy (c. 1449) by Jedrzej Galka, a follower of reformers John Wycliffe and Jan Hus, and a high literary standard was achieved in a morality verse dialogue, Rozmowa mistrza Polikarpa ze Smiercia (Dialogue Between Master Polycarp and Death). The style of the medieval period lasted late in Poland. Marcin Bielski represented this late medievalism in his Kronika wszystkiego swiata (1551; Chronicle of the Whole World), the first general history in Polish. The best examples of Polish literature imply a continuous literary tradition. Although its themes were those of the common European heritage, Polish writing of this period could be intensely personal within its anonymous framework. The groundwork for a leap into the ranks of major literatures was laid during the reign of Casimir III the Great, who in 1364 founded the University of Krakw. The Renaissance period Although the Renaissance reached Poland comparatively late, it was the golden age of Polish literature. External security, constitutional consolidation, and the Reformation contributed to this flowering. The first generation of writers that were influenced by the Italian humanists wrote in Latin. Included among this group were Jan Dantyszek (Johannes Dantiscus), author of incidental verse, love poetry, and panegyric; Andrzej Krzycki (Cricius), an archbishop who wrote witty epigrams, political verse, and religious poems; and Klemens Janicki (Janicius), a peasant who studied in Italy, won there the title of poet laureate, and was the most original Polish poet of the age. Mikolaj Rej of Naglowice was notable for combining medieval and Renaissance aspects. Self-educated, he was the first idiomatically Polish talent and widely read writer of his time, being known as the father of Polish literature. He wrote satirical epigrams, but of more importance were his prose works, especially Swietych slw a spraw Panskich kronika albo Postilla (1557; Chronicle or Comments on the Holy Words and Matters of the Lord), a collection of Calvinist sermons, and the Zywot czlowieka poczciwego (1568; Life of an Honest Man), a description of an ideal nobleman. Kochanowski and his disciples The second generation of humanist poets, and indeed the whole Renaissance period, was dominated by Jan Kochanowski. The son of a country squire, he wrote in the vernacular and was the first Polish writer to attempt both satirical poetry and classical tragedy, but his lyrical works surpassed these experiments. His crowning achievement, the first Polish work to equal the great poems of western Europe, was Treny (1580; Laments), inspired by despair after the death in 1579 of his young daughter, to be succeeded by a final recovery of his spiritual harmony. In Kochanowski's poetry the archaisms still apparent in Rej's work had almost disappeared; language and idiom were modern. The flexibility and assurance of his poetic genius were immediately recognized as a sign that the literary language had attained its maturity. The most notable of Kochanowski's followers was Szymon Szymonowic (Simonides). He introduced in his Sielanki (1614; Idylls) a poetic genre that was to retain its vitality until the end of the 19th century. These pastoral poems exemplified the processes of imitation, adaptation, and assimilation by means of which writers of the Renaissance period brought foreign models into the native tradition. The numerous poems, in Latin and Polish, of Sebastian Klonowic were of interest for their description of contemporary life. Worek Judaszw (1600; Judas' Sack) was a satirical poem on the plebeian life of Lublin, of which he was mayor.

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