200th Birthday Anniversary of Zygmunt Krasiński
#language & literature
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Poland celebrates the bicentenary anniversary of one of Poland's most accomplished and prolific Romantic writers
Zygmunt Krasiński, Photo: Cyfrowa Biblioteka Narodowa Polona
Zygmunt Krasiński was born in Paris on the 19th of February, 1812 and died there at the age od 47, reportedly of an infectious illness. As a writer, philosopher, and ideologue Krasiński played an important role in Polish intellectual life and retains a significant place in national culture and its history. His dramas remain alive today and are included in the repertoires of many theatres, particularly the The Un-divine Comedy, which has been translated into more than a dozen languages.
Krasiński was wealthy and financially independent, rendering his life different from that of a majority of émigré writers. As the bearer of a ducal title, he was a member of the international aristocracy, although he was always at odds with his father, first one of Napoleon's generals and later became a loyal subject of the Russian Tsar. Krasiński ultimately chose to live abroad in an effort to escape the plans his father had laid for him, which would have made the writer a diplomat in the tsar's service. His father continued to interfere in Krasiński's personal life, breaking up his romantic affairs and ordering the writer to wed. Krasiński's own views differed markedly from those of his father. Nevertheless, his writing forever contained a feudal motif - the leading role of the aristocracy in the development of public life - that was indubitably a relic of his family heritage. In a period of the rise of programs of social reform and political moods that tended towards the radical, Krasiński was a staunch conservative, an enemy of revolution and of all manner of armed insurgency, even in the name of national independence. After abandoing his law studies in Warsaw as an act of rebellion against his father, he traveled between Italy, France and Switzerland. It was in Geneva that he met Poland's greatest Romantic poet, Adam Mickiewicz, who had a great influence on his intellectual devlopment.
Krasiński is traditionally considered part of Poland's "trinity of poets," a trio of prophetic writers whose reflections on the history of humankind and the nation were simultaneously akin to predictions of the direction history would take, and therefore considered visions of the future. Like Mickiewicz and Słowacki, Krasiński saw history as a gradual process moving towards the realization of a transcendental aim - the building of the Kingdom of God on earth. Basic tenets of Krasiński's philosophy consisted of the acceptance of God as both a transcendental, personalized being and as Providence, which is embodied in history as its law of development. According to his philosophy, humanity is lead in its quest towards ultimate objectives by the Polish nation, made worthy of this role by its past and its suffering. The Polish nation, in turn, is lead by old noble families, who embody the most elevated of traditions. In its most mature form, Krasiński's "messianism" is a conservative version of Romantic philosophy. He wrote several well-known works of literature, including The Un-divine Comedy, Irydion and Agaj-Han, as well as many poems and treatises on politics and philosophy.
Read more on the life and works of Zygmunt Krasiński