Niemcewicz, Julian Ursyn

▪ Polish writer
born February 6, 1757 or 1758, Skoki, Poland
died May 21, 1841, Paris, France
 Polish playwright, poet, novelist, and translator whose writings, inspired by patriotism and concern for social and governmental reform, reflect the turbulent political events of his day. He was the first Polish writer to know English literature thoroughly, and he translated works of such authors as John Dryden (Dryden, John), John Milton (Milton, John), Alexander Pope (Pope, Alexander), and Samuel Johnson (Johnson, Samuel) during a period of imprisonment in 1794–96. Further, he introduced the historical novel to Poland with his three-volume Jan z Tęczyna (1825; “Jan of Tęczyn”), which was influenced by the Scottish novelist Sir Walter Scott (Scott, Sir Walter, 1st Baronet).

      Educated in the Warsaw cadet corps between 1770 and 1777, Niemcewicz spent most of the period 1783–88 in western Europe and in 1788 was elected deputy to the Sejm (parliament) of Poland. In 1790 he wrote Powrót posła (“The Deputy's Return”), a political comedy very popular in its day. After participating in the unsuccessful insurrection against Russia of 1794, when he served as an aide-de-camp to Tadeusz Kościuszko (Kościuszko, Tadeusz), he was captured at Maciejowice and imprisoned in St. Petersburg for two years. Upon his release, he traveled to England and then with Kościuszko to the United States, where he met George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and other American political leaders. He married in the United States and remained there until 1807, when he returned to Poland. His recollections of that period—Podróże po Ameryce 1797–1807—have been translated into English and edited by Metchie J.E. Budka and published as Under Their Vine and Fig Tree: Travels Through America in 1797–1799, 1805, with Some Further Account of Life in New Jersey (1965).

      While Niemcewicz strove to add a moderate voice to the social and political unrest in Poland between 1807 and 1831, he devoted himself primarily to literary work, publishing Śpiewy historyczne (1816; “Historical Songs”), a series of simple song poems that became very popular, and Lebje i Sióra (1821; Levi and Sarah, or, The Jewish Lovers: A Polish Tale), the first Polish novel to discuss the problems of Jews in Polish society. In 1831 he journeyed to England to attempt to persuade the western European powers to intervene on behalf of the Polish insurrection against the Russians. He failed to do so, however, and spent the last years of his life in Paris, campaigning for Polish freedom. His memoirs appeared in 1848.

Jerzy R. Krzyzanowski

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Julian Ursyn Niemcewicz — (Skoki, near Brześć, February 6, 1758 – May 21, 1841, Paris) was a Polish poet, playwright and statesman. He was a leading advocate for the Constitution of May 3, 1791. Contents …   Wikipedia

  • Julian Ursyn Niemcewicz — (* 16. Februar 1757 auf dem Landgut Skoki in der Nähe von Brest Litowsk; † 21. Mai 1841 in Paris) war ein polnischer Gelehrter, Dichter und Staatsmann. Seine Bildung erhielt in der Kadettenanstalt in Warschau, 1777 war er Adjutant des Fürsten …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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  • Niemcewicz — biographical name Julian Ursyn 1758 1841 Polish patriot & writer …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Julien-Ursin Niemcewicz — Julien Ursin Niemcewicz. Julien Ursin Niemcewicz, en polonais Julian Ursyn Niemcewicz, (1757 1841) est un écrivain et patriote polonais. Biographie Julian Ursyn Niemcewicz est né le 6 février 1757 à Skoki …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Polish literature — Introduction       body of writings in Polish, one of the Slavic languages. The Polish national literature holds an exceptional position in Poland. Over the centuries it has mirrored the turbulent events of Polish history and at times sustained… …   Universalium

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