Mickiewicz, Adam (äˈdäm mētskyĕˈvĭch) [key], 1798–1855, Polish romantic poet and playwright, b. Belorussia. He studied at the Univ. of Vilna, where he was arrested (1823) for pan-Polish activities and deported to Russia. He was permitted (1829) to travel through Europe, remaining there following the Polish uprising of 1830. Later he served as professor of literature in Lausanne (1839) and in Paris (1840–44). In the revolutionary upheavals of 1848 and again in the Crimean War he organized legions for Polish emancipation. He died in Constantinople during a cholera epidemic. Mickiewicz's poetry gave international stature to Polish literature. His powerful verse expressed a romantic view of the soul and the mysteries of life, often employing Polish folk themes. His major works include the fantastic drama The Forefathers (1823); the philosophical poem Konrad Wallenrod (1828); The Books of the Polish Nation and of Polish Pilgrimage (1832); and the great epic Pan Tadeusz (1834, tr. 1917). This poem, Mickiewicz's masterpiece, is a comprehensive and Homeric treatment of the life of the Polish gentry.
See biographies by M. M. Gardner (1911, repr. 1971) and R. Koropeckyj (2008); studies by W. Weintraub (1954 and 1959) and M. Kridl, ed. (1951, repr. 1969).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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