Archive for ‘Polish Hertiage Month’

November 4, 2011

Joseph Conrad = Jozef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

During, October (Polish Heritage Month), when I wrote about Polish literati, I neglected to mention, Joseph Conrad. A huge oversight on my part, that I did not realize until afterwards, when I had read Donna Pointkouski’s comment with a link to her fine article on Polish authors.

I hope you can already guess the reason for my mental blunder, Joseph Conrad, was born Jozef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski. He was born 3-December-1857 in Berdichev (Polish: Berdyczów, in the Russian Gubernia, of Kiev). Donna’s article said his first language was Polish and his second language was French and that Joseph Conrad did not become fluent in English until his 20’s. I have to wonder that perhaps that there must have been some Russian nestled in between Polish and French given his birthplace and early life. At any rate, it is a marvel that he could be so literate in English and that his literary prose so remarkable, considering it was not his native language. Now he has a rather lengthy bibliography and this jester can only claim to have read, Heart of Darkness (1899).

Check out the wikipedia article from the above link. Look at the picture of Conrad. You can see the noble birth writ upon his face and his intellect is there too in his eyes. This man should have been an author – thank goodness he became one.

For Stanczyk, who came across Conrad later in life and having only read Heart of Darkness, I categorized him in with his contemporaries: Robert Louis Stevenson, Rudyard Kipling, & Sir Henry Rider Haggard (who? – author of Solomon’s Mines, creator of the “Lost World” literary genre) and their literary inheritors: Edgar Rice Burroughs (not so much Tarzan as his John Carter character) and Robert E. Howard. There may be many others, but these are the ones I have read. I am sure Ernest Hemmingway read Conrad from Hemmingway’s quotes and there are elements in Hemmingway’s works/life that bring to mind Joseph Conrad. So I guess my brain “Anglicized” this brilliant author who wrote such fluid prose in English and imbued it with his Slavic soul.

That is my mea culpa for omitting Joseph Conrad in October and I am sticking with it.

October 20, 2011

Polish Heritage Month – Artists & Scupltors

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Copernicus' Deathbed by Walery Elijasz

We always salute the famous historical heroic figures like Pulaski or Kosciusko or possibly scientists like Madame Skladowska Curie and Mikolaj Copernicus or maybe a musician like Fryderyk Chopin. But I do not want this month to go by without a listing of the literary talents and the artistic talents. Yesterday I wrote about the writers and today I wanted to mention the painters and scupltors.

Piotr Michałowski, Jan Matejko (Stanczyk’s portrait painter — see below for self-portrait), Walery Elijasz (guess why he is in the list), Stanisław Wyspiański (also was on the list of writers yesterday too).

Here are an abbreviated list of painters & scupltors for you to explore:

Olga Boznańska, Konstanty Brandel, Xawery Dunikowski, Julian Fałat, Jacek Malczewski, Józef Mehoffer, Józef Pankiewicz, Ferdynand Ruszczyc, Jan Stanisławski, Władysław Ślewiński, Wojciech Weiss, Leon Wyczółkowski, Konstanty Laszczka

Walery Elijasz who may or may not be related to this author was famous for his  book illustrations and travels through Zakopane where he was a major part in the founding an artists colony there.

Jan Matejko - self portrait

If Stanczyk could get you to view one artist’s works it would be Jan Matejko (1838-1893). His home is a museum in old city Krakow and can be visited. He is the artist whose painting is at the top of this blog. You have probably seen his painting of Polish kings in books or on Polish stamps. This jester has a work of his on Copernicus (on a rooftop with his scientific tools, “Conversation with God“) that is much beloved. Jan Matejko also wrote a small book in Polish on the Polish kings using his artwork on them and provides a genealogical/historical sketch of each king. Besides his historical paintings of Battles and Kings, he is also renown for his portraiture. The Krakow Academy of Fine Arts where he served for many years was named for him in 1979. He was a true Master of the Fine Arts.

October 19, 2011

#Polish #National #Heritage Month – Continuing … James Michener “Poland”

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

James Michner's Poland 1st EditionWe always salute the famous historical heroic figures like Pulaski or Kosciusko or possibly scientists like Madame Skladowska Curie and Mikolaj Copernicus or maybe a musician like Fryderyk Chopin. But I do not want this month to go by without a listing of the literary talents and the artistic talents.

Polish Literature is richly nuanced and uniquely Slavic. If you have read this blog for a while, you will have seen a mention of Stanislaw Lem or Czeslaw Milosz and a few others. There are so many to choose from: Mikolaj Rej, Jan Kochanowski, Adam Mickiewicz, Juliusz Slowacki, Henryk Sienkiewicz, Stanislaw Wyspianski, Wladyslaw Reymont,  Stanislaw Witkiewicz, Wisława Szymborska or Slawomir Mrozek. For more information, please click on “Polish Literature” or my favorite website for Polish Lit: Staropolska .

Today’s article is on James Michener’s “Poland“. Michener may not be Polish (he never knew who his biological parents were), but he is another of those great local literary talents of my adopted hometown of Philadelphia. This book is a historic novel with some fictional literary devices utilized to stitch together a coherent  narrative around ten historical topics of Poland. These ten episodic chapters can be read straight through or sampled individually.

If you only read one chapter this month,  of this easy reading novel, then read chapter five (on Jan Sobieski and his heroic salvation of Europe at the Battle of Vienna).

They probably sung a hymn / poem from the early 14th century, called Bogurodzica (Mother of God) which is the oldest poem in the Polish Language. You can hear this fascinating hymn here . This poem has no Latin equivalent, so it roots are entirely Slavic.

By the way, you may want to read Czeslaw Milosz’s book, “The History of Polish Literature” for more background on today’s article, including Bogurodzica.

Tomorrow … A Selection of Artists.

– Stanczyk

P. S.

You may want to read Donna Pointkouski’s Top Ten More Ways To Celebrate Polish Heritage Month  for more ideas on this month of ours.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 443 other followers

%d bloggers like this: