Polish Literature 1

Polish literature, collective name for the earliest evidence written in Latin from the 11th century.

Polish language monuments are only known from the 14th century. Polish literature is divided into two main currents: the Old Polish Epoch (12th to mid-18th centuries), which includes the Middle Ages, Renaissance and Baroque, and the more recent Polish literature, which begins with the Enlightenment.

Middle Ages (11th – 15th centuries)

According to commit4fitness, Christianization (966/967), which, in contrast to its eastern Slavic neighbors, made Poland accessible to western culture, led to religious and historiographical prose works as early as the 11th and 12th centuries. a. in Latin.

The writing of history began with the Chronicle of Gallus Anonymus (12th century), was in the 13th and 14th centuries among others. continued by the didactic-moral “Chronica Polonorum” by W. Kadłubek and culminated in the “Historiae Polonicae libri XII” (written 1455–80, published 1711) by J. Długosz.

The religious literature in Latin is represented by the lives of saints, songs and prayers. The oldest monuments in Polish include translations of the Bible, including the Psalter of St. Florian (“Psałterz floriański”, 15th century) and the Sophia Bible (“Biblia królowej Zofii”, 15th century), sermons important for language development (“Kazania świętokrzyskie”; “Kazania gnieźnieńskie”, both 14th century)) and the first poetic text was the Marian song »Bogurodzica« (written in the 14th century, first recorded in the 15th century).

Renaissance (1500-1620)

In the powerfully emerging Polish aristocratic state, the second half of the 16th century formed the “Golden Age”, which brought with it the connection to Western European literature and laid the foundations for the acquisition and development of new literary phenomena. It was prepared by Italian and German humanists, among others. K. Celtis, who taught at Cracow University from 1489–91.

In the first few decades, poetry, which was predominantly Latin (especially K. Janicki), was soon followed by works in Polish – spread through the flourishing printing industry – initially translations, then Polish original prose: M. Réj (»Żywot człowieka poczciwego«, 1568) and Ł. Górnicki (»Dworzanin polski«, 1566; German »The Polish Democritus as Hofmann«) designed an ideal image of the humanistically educated Polish nobleman. The moral-didactic and journalistic prose found expression in the political treatises of A. Frycz Modrzewski and his opponent S. Orzechowski as well as in the Sejm sermons (1597) of the Jesuit P. Skarga.

The high point of this epoch is the poetry of J. Kochanowski, which remained an obligatory model until the Romantic era. With the epigrammatic »Fraszki« (1584), the cheerful »Pieśni« ​​(1584) and the melancholy-philosophical »Treny« (1580; German »Threnodes and other poems«) he introduced ancient and humanistic forms. In its shadow stood the idylls by S. Szymonowic, the versepik by Sebastian Fabian Klonowic (* 1545, † 1602) and the sonnets by M. Sęp ​​Szarzyński; the baroque is already heralded in them, as is Kochanowski’s Tasso and Ariosto translations. Kochanowski also deserves a mention Renaissance drama “Odprawa posłów greckich” (1578; German “The dispatch of the Greek envoys”).

Polish Literature 1

Baroque (1620–1764)

The changeful events of this time (wars, Cossack uprisings) are reflected in the literature. Historical epics (W. Potocki, »Transakcja wojny chocimskiej«, written 1670, published 1850), historical chants (W. Kochowski, »Psalmodia polska«, 1695) and rhyming chronicles (Samuel Twardowski, * before 1600, † 1661; »Wojna domowa “, 1681) describe battles and campaigns, memoirs (J. C. Pasek,” Pamiętniki “, created 1690–95, published 1836; German” Memories of Johann Chrysostomus Passek… “) describe war experiences, and epigrams, moral poems and satires (Potocki, »Moralia«, written 1688–96, published 1915–16; K. Opaliński, »Satyry«, 1650) paint a critical picture of this period.

The poetry experienced an upswing through the “Christian Horace”, M. K. Sarbiewski (“Lyricorum libri tres”, 1625), and v. a. by J. A. Morsztyn (“Kanikuła albo Psia gwiazda”, created 1647, published 1844; “Lutnia”, created 1638–60, published 1874), who adopted Spanish conceptism and Italian marinism.

Enlightenment (1764–95)

It coincides with the reign of the last Polish king, Stanisław II August, and despite the collapse of the Polish state (partitions of Poland in 1772, 1793, 1795), it is marked by a spiritual renewal. The literature took up the pressing questions about citizenship and the concept of nation, criticized grievances and made suggestions for their elimination, among other things. in magazines (“Monitor”, 1765–85, edited by I. Krasicki and F. Bohomolec), satires, as well as pamphlets and pamphlets. Also fables (Krasicki, S. Trembecki) and comedies (F. Zabłocki, J. U. Niemcewicz) contrasted old-fathers Poles with reform-minded patriots.

Krasicki founded the modern Polish novel with “Mikołaja Doświadczyńskiego przypadki” (1776; German “Events of Nicolaus Doświadczyński”). The poetry was determined by the sensitive poems by Franciszek Karpiński (* 1741, † 1825), which praised country life, as well as the love verses and patriotic songs of Kniaźnin. W. Bogusławski, the author of the libretto for the first Polish comic opera, “Cud mniemany, czyli Krakowiacy i górale” (1794), is considered the creator of the Polish national theater.

Classicism, Sensitivity and the Beginning of Romanticism (1795–1831)

After the third division of Poland (1795), “Warsaw Classicism” continued the Enlightenment traditions by developing and maintaining cultural traditions (historical sources, folk art), language maintenance and the translation of European classics. Historical chants (»Śpiewy historyczne«, 1816; German »Geschichtliche Gesänge der Polen«) by J. Niemcewicz were written; Tragedy (A. Feliński, “Barbara Radziwiłłówna”, first performance in 1812, published in 1820), ode (K. Koźmian) and satire (S. K. Graf Potocki) were cultivated.