Poland Literature: From Its Origins to The Golden Age

Poland Literature: From Its Origins to The Golden Age

Subjected to the communist regime for over forty years, according to 800zipcodes.com, Poland embarked on democracy with the constitutional changes of 7 June 1989, while on 31 December of the same year the denomination of People’s Republic was abolished together with the leading role of the Unified Workers’ Party. Poland, according to the Constitution of 25 May 1997, is a parliamentary republic, whose territory, from an administrative point of view, is divided into sixteen voivodships. The head of state is elected by direct suffrage and remains in office for 5 years, while the legislative power is exercised by a bicameral Parliament, directly elected for four years and composed of the Chamber of Deputies (Sejm) and the Senate. The judicial system, which is based on Napoleonic law with influences from Marxist legal theory, provides for a Supreme Court and a Constitutional Court. Military service is compulsory for all able-bodied male citizens aged 19 and over. Currently the school system provides for free education at all levels and extends compulsory schooling from 7 to 14 years of age (primary school). The secondary school, which lasts four or five years, includes different courses (general, technical vocational and basic vocational) and opens the way to higher education. Illiteracy affects 0.7% of the population.


The introduction of Christianity according to the Latin rite (966) marked for Poland not only the strengthening in the international field, but also the entry into the culture of Western Europe. Thus, in the early literature, articulated in the lines of chronicle, hagiography and ecclesiastical-liturgical texts, Latin clearly predominated. Only in the fourteenth century is there a progressive expansion of the Polish literary language, which was originally based on the dialects of western Poland. The first poetic document in Polish, the hymn Mother of God, is from the end of the century. XIII, while in the fourteenth century they are translated into the vulgar psalters, sermons and lives of saints (Sermons of Santa CroceSermons of Gnieznoetc.). Considerable importance for the development of Polish culture was the institution in Krakow, in 1364, of the first university which achieved great prestige in the century. XVI with Nicola Copernicus. The splendid development of the Renaissance, between the second half of the sixteenth century and the first half of the seventeenth century, was based on the middle rural nobility (szlachta) and on the wealthy urban class. In this first period of truly national culture, also known as the “golden age”, Polish literature reached very high peaks. Alongside a vast panegiristic productionin Latin, and a large group of Polish-Latin writers, including Klemens Janicki (1516-43), stood out a political and doctrinal literature that reflected the structural transformations of the state and the polemics connected with the Reformation, whose main exponent was Andrzej Frycz Modrzewski (1503-72). Among the young people who flocked to Italian cities, returning with an in-depth knowledge of classical culture, is Lukasz Górnicki (1527-1603), whose Polish Courtier is a remake of Castiglione’s work. The fruitful self-taught Mikołaj Rej, on the other hand, has all fallen into the national reality(1505-69), Protestant, who in his works expressed the progressive social tendencies and political ideals of the middle nobility. However, the best interpreter of the Renaissance spirit in Poland, and also the most distinguished Slavic writer in pre- romantic letters, is Jan Kochanowski (1530-84), founder of the Polish poetic language, whose fame is linked above all to SongsLamentations and drama The postponement of the Greek ambassadors. Among the authors of the late Renaissance stand out in the group of bourgeois poets Mikolaj Sep-Szarzynski (1550-81), lyrical talent par excellence, and Szymon Szymonowic (1558-1629) who in his Idylls merged classic reminiscences with the direct experience of life in the countryside. In the second half of the century. XVII, which marks the beginning of a serious internal political crisis for Poland, coinciding with external defeats, the culture, essentially baroque, is made up of various currents. The traditions of the Renaissance past are still active and are reflected in the verbal virtuosity and metric refinement of Jan Andrzej Morsztyn (1613-93); very interesting is the prose of Jan Chryzostom Pasek (1630-1701), who in his Memoirs left an effective picture of the Poland of the time by narrating his own adventurous life; finally, the epic inspired by history and political satire, which find the greatest poet in Wacław Potocki, occupy a place apart.(1625-96). To the general indifference towards public problems under the rule of the foreign Saxon kings, in the first decades of the century. XVIII is accompanied by the cultural chaos which in literature is reflected in the degenerate Sarmatic baroque. From the backwardness of Saxon times, the country began to emerge only under the reign of the last Polish king, Stanislao Augusto Poniatowski.

Poland Literature

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