IGNACY KRASICKI

KrasickiIntroduction

Ignacy Krasicki (1735-1801)was born in Dubiecko into a family possessing the title of the Counts of the Holy Roman Empire. He was educated at home and prepared for the priesthood, which he entered with his two brothers, studying for two years in Rome. Appointed Secretary to the Primate of Poland on his return, he became friendly with the future king of Poland, Stanislaw August Poniatowski, who aided his career. From royal chaplain Krasicki became in turn Bishop and Duke of Warmia, prince, senator of the Republic and finally Archbishop of Gniezno.

The positions brought social standing and independence, but he had to contend with hostility from more conservative elements in the Church, and the threatened partition of Poland. Krasicki protested against the foreign intervention while trying to protect Warmia from civil war. Even when Warmia was annexed by Prussia, and Krasicki became a Prussian subject, he refused to pay homage to Frederick II personally and maintained his friendship with Stanislaw August. He did travel widely, however, to Paris, Berlin, Potsdam and Sans-Souci on the instructions of Frederick II, but his literary output was directed to and glorified the reign of the Polish king. He died at Potsdam, near Berlin, in 1801.

Krasicki was in his forties when he made his debut with Swieta milosci kochanej ojczyzny [Holy Love of the Beloved Motherland], a verse that became extremely popular and played the important part of a national hymn. Krasicki formulated a universal idea of patriotism, which was expressed in the high style and elevated tone of European Classicism. Many translations followed, and Krasicki went on to develop new genres. His was the first modern Polish novel, Mikolaja Doswiadczynskiego przypadki [The Adventures of Nicholas Wisdom], which synthesizes Enlightenment themes: socio-satirical, adventures, the utopian and the didactic. Mikolaj Doswiadczynski, the hero of the story, is a Polish nobleman who becomes a better person through his adventures, and the duties of a good host also appear in his next novel, Pan Podstoli [Mr Podstoli]. A conversation with Frederick II of Prussia prompted the poem Monachomachia [War of the Monks], a mock epic in octava rima, which caused a scandal when published, which was followed by an apology of sorts in Antymonachomachia.

More important was the beautiful and sharply-written Bajki przypowiesci [Fables and Parables 1779], which contained humorous if penetrating comments on current affairs and human nature. His Satyry [Satires 1779] succeeded in being amusing and didactic, helped by excellent dialogue and interior monologue. Bajki nowe [New Fables] was published posthumously in 1802. Krasicki also cultivated belles-lettres, wrote works of homiletics, theology and heraldry, published an encyclopedia in two volumes, wrote about gardens, produced a newspaper and made translations of Plutarch and the Songs of Ossian.

Writing before Romanticism, Krasicki was not alienated from society, but won his country's highest awards: The Order of the White Eagle, The Order of St Stanislaw and an honorary medal with the motto:"Dignum laude virum musa vetat mori."

Krasicki's most important works achieved European fame, being translated into Latin, French, German, Italian, Russian, Czech, Croat, Slovak, and Hungarian. Many writers of the Enlightenment dedicated their works to him — Trembecki, Zablocki and Mier — a dedication that continued into the 20th century with novelists and poets. Stanislaw Trembecki (1739?-1812) was also a great master of witty verse, though more the courtier and libertine. His patriotic odes to the king were as accomplished as his obscene erotic poems, but he is best remembered for his poetic fables and the descriptive poem Sofiówka [Sophie's Garden]. Their work has the balance, restraint and high polish of Classicism, before other influences came flooding into Poland.

Conservative neoclassicism appeared in the works of Kajetan Kozmian (1771-1856), Ludwik Osinski (1775-1838), and Alojzy Felinski (1771-1820), while the first strains of Romanticism in Bishop Adam Naruszewicz (1733-99) work were followed by Franciszek Dionizy Kniaznin (1750-1807) and Franciszek Karpinski (1741-1825) and finally by the great Adam Mickiewicz (1798-1855).

Following Krasicki and partition, nationalism enters into the fabric of its Polish poetry, and the tragic history of Poland has to be understood. The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics (1993) has its usual excellent overview, and includes a brief bibliography, mostly Polish material. Try, however, M. Giergielewicz's Introduction to Polish Versification (1970), C. Milosz's The History of Polish Literature (1983) and B. Carpenter's The Poetic Avant-garde in Poland 1918-39 (1983), M. J. Mikos's Polish Renaissance Literature, Mikos et al's Polish Baroque and Enlightenment Literature, M.M. Coleman's The Polish Land, P. Cazin's Le Prince Eveque de Varmie, Ignacy Krasicki, 1735 - 1801. (1940) and S. Graciotti's Ignacy Krasicki et la culture de son temps: De la pedagogie a la poesie.

 

Suggestion: Five Centuries of Polish Poetry, 1450-1970. Burns Singer and Jerzy Peterkiewicz. Greenwood Press Reprint. 1979. $35.

Greenwood specialize in reprinting work that deserves not to go out of print: a plain but solid anthology.

Learning Polish

Polish can be learnt from books, tapes, courses and CDs, available at multilingual, worldlanguage, arthur lynn, rosetta stone, language quest, pimsleur, accelerated learning and unforgettable languages.

Free lessons and material are at word2word, anglik, claritaslux and search language.

Other works, dictionaries, etc. can be ordered through grant and cutler, bestbookbuys, abebooks and alibris.

Polish-English-Polish online dictionaries are at multilingual books, word2word, dictionary.com and lexilogos.

Some useful language exchanges: friends abroad, xlingo, mylanguage exchange, polyglot learn language and lingozone.

Polish Poetry

Material on Polish writers is located as follows: Jan Kochanowski, Trembecki, Stanislaw, Trembecki, Kajetan, Kozmian, Ludwik Osinski, Alojzy, Felinski, Naruszewicz, Kniaznin, Karpinski, Mickiewicz, Slowack, Krasinski, Novid, Wierzynski, Wat, Jan Kochanowski, Mikolaj Sep Szarzynski's Jan Andrzej Morsztyn, Ignacy Krasicki , Stanislaw Trembecki and Czeslaw Milosz.

Polish poetry is well represented on the Internet, but most is without translations. Good collections of Polish poetry are listed at the chicago public library, polishwriting and granger.

The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics (1993) has its usual excellent overview, and includes a brief bibliography, mostly Polish material. Try, however, M. Giergielewicz's Introduction to Polish Versification (1970), C. Milosz's The History of Polish Literature (1983) and B. Carpenter's The Poetic Avant-garde in Poland 1918-39 (1983), M. J. Mikos's Polish Renaissance Literature, Mikos et al's Polish Baroque and Enlightenment Literature, M.M. Coleman's The Polish Land, P. Cazin's Le Prince Eveque de Varmie, Ignacy Krasicki, 1735 - 1801. (1940) and S. Graciotti's Ignacy Krasicki et la culture de son temps: De la pedagogie a la poesie.

Krasicki

Material on Krasicki is located on these sites: virtual library, wikipedia, scaruffi, mikolaja and front list.

Mickiewicz

Information on Mickiewicz can be found on these sites: Konrad Wallenrod and central european review .

Bilingual translations by various hands exist of Mickiewicz's Grazyna and Konrad Wallenrod.

 

C. John Holcombe   |  About the Author    | ©     2007 2012 2013.   Material can be freely used for non-commercial purposes if properly referenced.