Poland Literature – From the End of the 18th Century to the End of the 19th Century

The literature immediately following the divisions of the kingdom was divided between late- or neoclassical suggestions, evident in K. Koźmian, and heralds of Romanticism, especially in the work of K. Brodziński, first professor of Polish literature at the University of Warsaw, founded in 1816. The political catastrophe of 1795 therefore did not succeed in completely stifling the spirit of the Enlightenment, at least in scientific and historical research. Starting from 1800, the year the Association of Friends of Science was founded, the generation that survived the last partition tried with passion and tenacity to save and strengthen the foundations of nationality, starting with the language and the monuments of culture. This generation included J. Potocki, famous as a narrator but also author of notable works of archeology and anthropology, and SB Linde, who between 1807 and 1814 published his Słownik ję zyka polskiego («Dictionary of the Polish language», 6 vol.). Literature gradually became aware of the patriotic value inherent in the reference to popular traditions; the collection of Ballady i romanse (“Ballads and Romans “, 1822) by A. Mickiewicz, with which it is customary to date the beginning of Polish Romanticism, is a vindication of the deep attachment of the Polish people to their land. Romanticism also favored the development of regional literary schools, among which the ‘Ukrainian’ school of the three young poets A. Malczewski, S. Goszczyński and JB Zaleski excelled.

According to rrrjewelry, the brutal repression of the insurrection of 1830-31 marked a fundamental turning point also in cultural and artistic life, giving rise to the phenomenon of emigration of men of letters and men of culture. In the ‘great emigration’, especially in Paris, we find the vati of the romantic triad Mickiewicz, J. Słowacki and Z. Krasiński, who in various ways communicated to Europe the frustration and at the same time the pride of the nation-martyr. In his solitary exile in Brussels the historian J. Lelewel he continued his studies on the autochthonous origin of the Polish ‘democratic’ system, while in France the philosophers JM Wroński-Hoene and A. Towiański deepened the doctrine of the so-called Polish messianism. Isolated author, the youngest of the great romantic poets, CK Norwid will remain unknown until the beginning of the 20th century, when he will be rediscovered by Z. Przesmycki, editor of the modernist magazine Chimera. The ‘internal’ literature of the period 1831-63 is distinguished from that of emigration by the lesser momentum and the lesser importance of the artistic personalities: if the messianic vein is represented by K. Ujejski, the popular one by T. Lenartowicz and poetic regionalism by W. Pol, is perhaps with the costume theater of A. Fredro and the historical novels of H. Rzewuski and the prolific JI Kraszewski that internal romantic literature knows its best moments, while heralding the limits and lines of its own subsequent evolution.

The failed insurrection of 1863 destroyed the illusions of heroic Romanticism, forcing men of culture to a more pragmatic and minute commitment. The major theorist of Polish positivism was A. Świętochowski, and if in philosophy the thought of A. Comte and Darwinism acted as referents, in the historical field a certain realistic (and loyalist) scientism prevailed, while in literature the ideology of a moderate patriotism, to be cultivated above all through the novel. Thus, while the poetry in the work of A. Asnyk and M. Konopnicka lowered the flight compared to the mysticism and tirtaism typical of the Romantic age, in the novels of B. Prus and E. Orzeszkowa the thorniest questions of the post-insurgency era were dealt with with finesse of analysis and writing, and in the historical novel, H. Sienkiewicz, author of the famous Quo vadis? excelled (1896) and first Nobel prize for Polish literature (1905).

If positivism was connoted as a reaction to Romanticism, the next current, which dominated from the last decade of the 19th century. until the First World War and who goes by the name of Młoda Polska (“Young Poland”), was in turn a reaction to positivism characterized by neo-romantic, decadent and symbolist aspects. Philosophical referents became A. Schopen; hauer, F. Nietzsche and H.-L. Bergson, while the main exponent of Polish thought of this period was S. Brzozowski. Poetry and theater took over the narrative again, which had the main representatives in S. Żeromski, WS Reymont, W. Berent and W. Orkan; in their works the realism of the positivistic novel takes on naturalistic or lyrical-pietistic shades, especially in the representation of the life of the humblest classes. Characteristic of the Young Poland was among other things the rediscovery of peasant and mountain cultures and the setting in the Tatras of many works. In poetry, alongside the profound moral anxiety of J. Kasprowicz, there was a tendency, evident in K. Tetmajer Przerwa, towards an impressionistic pessimism, which reached the point of a decadent amoralism in the work of S. Przybyszewski, a true theorist of the new current. (Confiteor, 1899) with his doctrines of the “naked soul” and art for art. At the same time two poets such as B. Leśmian were already writingand L. Staff, who in different ways marked all the Polish opera of the twentieth century. In the theater the figure of S. Wyspiański dominated, also famous as a painter.

Poland Literature - From the End of the 18th Century to the End of the 19th Century

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