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Polish literature

The Nineteenth Century

The romantic era, with its revolutionary and reform movements, was one of extraordinary productivity. Themes of nationalism and freedom predominated, developed by the patriotic poets Adam Mickiewicz, Juliusz Słowacki, and Zygmunt Krasiński. Romantic novelists of note were Jozef Korzeniowski (1797–1863) and Henryk Rzewuski (1791–1866), and the major dramatist was Alexander Fredro (1793–1876). In the 19th cent. much Polish literature was written by émigrés in Paris and other European centers; these included the poet Cyprjan Norwid (1821–83).

Positivism, stimulated by the revolutionary fiasco of 1863, marked an effort to gain national strength through literary attacks on ignorance and reaction. A notable representative of this school was Bolesław Prus. The colorful historical novels of the Nobel laureate Henryk Sienkiewicz gained international popularity at this time. The last decade of the 19th cent. saw the appearance of the neoromantic school of Young Poland, influenced by French poetry and by Nietzsche. The poet and dramatist Stanisław Wyspiański, the novelists and dramatists Stefan Żeromski and Stanisław Przybyszewski, and the novelist Władisław Stanisław Reymont were the outstanding writers of this period.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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