This article is a critical reappraisal of Juliusz Słowacki’s translation of Calderón’s El príncipe constant (1843), which acquired a place of its own in Słowacki’s oeuvre and continued to attract a lot of interest throughout the 20th century. Its lasting appeal is due to its extraordinary unity of tone, dramatic construction and stylized language, which in effect, as some critics have said, out-Baroques Calderón’s Baroque original. This article analyzes this contention in detail and tries to answer the question what were the sources and reasons of Słowacki’s fascination with the 17-th century Spanish poet and playwright. The second part of the article deals with two of the 20th-century stage productions of the drama and the adapters’ handling of Słowacki’s text. The summary includes a brief survey of the treatment Calderón’s heirs accorded to his key trope perigrinatio vitae (‘life is pilgrimage’).
The article analizes Stanisław Pigoń’s essay ‘Some Golden Thoughts on the Chair of Polish Literature’ written to commemorate the 600th jubilee of the Jagiellonian University. Stanisław Pigoń (1885-1968), Distinguished Profesor of Polish Literature, had it published in the Cracow weekly Życie Literackie in May 1964; its expanded version was published two years later in a volume of essays Drzewiej i wczoraj [In the Old Days and Yesterday] in 1966. Both versions were published again in a a bibliophile volume in December 2018 (the manuscript and the printed versions). At the heart of Pigoń’s essay are the twin ideas of freedom and the ‘spiritual life of the nation’, borrowed from Juliusz Słowacki’s epic poem The Spirit King. The article examines Pigoń’s key theme and the manner in which, as he saw it, it shaped the lectures of the most eminent professors of Polish literature in the 19th and 20th century (Michał Wiszniewski, Karol Mecherzyński, Stanisław Tarnowski, Ignacy Chrzanowski). Pigoń’s survey ends in 1910, but, as the author of the article observes, by that time the ideas he so strongly believed in were as relevant as ever.
This article offers a new reading of the complex, multidimensional, palimpsest identity of the eponymous hero of The King Spirit. Intended to be a total work of art (Gesamtkunstwerk), Juliusz Słowacki’s epic poem remains unfi nished, in a number of versions that are driven by two impulses, a centrifugal force reducing the poem to a string of inchoate fragments and a centripetal counterforce working for the poem’s unity. The same vectors seem to exert a permanent tension on the central character of the poem, a complex web of relations between body and soul, individual and universal consciousness, boundless and limited knowledge, the bright light of revelation and the inadequacy of words, and, last not least, between inspiration, memory and imagination. The peculiar construction of the ‘I’ in The King Spirit may also be seen as an attempt to relinquish the aesthetic mode of existence for the religious one (as described by Søren Kierkegaard). The poem could then be read as a dramatic record of that transition.