Definitions

Pan_Tadeusz

Pan Tadeusz

Pan Tadeusz, the full title in English: Mister Thaddeus, or the Last Foray in Lithuania: a History of the Nobility in the Years 1811 and 1812 in Twelve Books of Verse (Pan Tadeusz, czyli ostatni zajazd na Litwie. Historia szlachecka z roku 1811 i 1812 we dwunastu księgach wierszem pisana) is an epic poem by the Polish poet, writer and philosopher Adam Mickiewicz. The book was first published in June 1834 in Paris, and is considered by many to be the last great epic poem in European literature.

Pan Tadeusz is recognized as the national epic of Poland. It is compulsory reading in Polish schools. A film based on the poem was made in 1999 by Andrzej Wajda.

Content

The story takes place over the course of five days in 1811 and one day in 1812 at a point in Polish history, when Poland-Lithuania had already been divided between Russia, Prussia, and Austria (see Partitions of Poland) and disappeared from the political map of Europe, although Napoleon had established the Duchy of Warsaw in the Prussian partition in 1807.

The place is situated within the Russian partition, in the Lithuanian village of Soplicowo. Pan Tadeusz recounts the story of two feuding noble families, and the love between Tadeusz Soplica (the title character) of one family, and Zosia of the other. Another subplot involves a spontaneous revolt of the local inhabitants against the occupying Russian garrison. Since Mickiewicz published his poem as an exile in Paris, he was free of the Russian censors.

Fame

Numerous quotations from Pan Tadeusz are well known, above all its opening lines:

Litwo! Ojczyzno moja! ty jesteś jak zdrowie; Ile cię trzeba cenić, ten tylko się dowie, Kto cię stracił.

O Lithuania, my country, thou
Art like good health; I never knew till now
How precious, till I lost thee.

(translation by Kenneth R. Mackenzie)

Lithuania, my country! You are as good health:
How much one should prize you, he only can tell
Who has lost you.

(translation by Marcel Weyland)

The fact, that the Polish national poem begins with words "O Lithuania", is an interesting paradox. The controversy largely stems from the fact that the 19th century concept of nationality had not yet been geopoliticized in his time. The term "Lithuania" used by Mickiewicz refers rather to a geographical region and not country. It had a much broader geographic extent than it does now (i.e. the modern Lithuania), and it did refer to the historical Lithuania proper.

Mickiewicz had been brought up in the culture of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, a multicultural state that had encompassed most of what today are the separate countries of Poland, Lithuania, Belarus and Ukraine. He is often regarded by Lithuanians to be of Lithuanian origin, while Belarusians proclaim Mickiewicz to be one of them, since he was born on the territory of contemporary Belarus.

Film adaptations

The first film version of the poem was produced in 1928.

The film version made by Andrzej Wajda in 1999 was a great success in Poland.

Other translations

Maude Ashurst Biggs published "Master Thaddeus" in 1885 in London, Watson Kirkconnell "Sir Thaddeus" in 1962. George Rapall Noyes published the poem in 1917 in prose. At least Book Four was published in 2000 by Christopher Adam Zakrzewski. A full version translation by Marcel Weyland, in the original metre, was published in Sydney in 2004, London and New York in 2005. The most recent translation of "Pan Tadeusz" into English, in the rhyme and rhythm of the original, is by Marcel Weyland of Sydney, Australia (ISBN 1567002196 US, and 1873106777 UK).

Trivia

  • One of the main subplots (two families feuding over a piece of property, which is resolved by the marriage of the two young heirs) bears an uncanny resemblance to the plot of the popular Polish play Zemsta, which also débuted in 1834.

See also

External links

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