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Mickiewicz, Adam Bernard

Born Dececember 24, 1798 in Nowogródek (or Zaosie near Nowogródek), died November 26, 1855 in Constantinople, regarded as the greatest Polish poet; playwright, writer and activist in the struggle for Polish independence. In 1817 a co-founder of a secret student's Philomaths' Society [Towarzystwo Filomatów] in Vilnius; in 1823 arrested,imprisoned and deported to Russia; 1824-1829 lived in St. Petersburg, Moscow, Odessa and travelled in the Crimea; in Saint-Petersburg Mickiewicz made friends with the future Decembrists, as well as with Russian poets and writers, among them Alexander Pushkin. From mid-1829 in Western Europe: Berlin, Weimar and Rome; on the news of the outbreak of the November Uprising 1830-31 in Poland, Mickiewicz left for Poland via Geneva and Paris; arrived in the Great Poland in August 1831; unsuccessful attempts to cross the border into the Polish Kingdom and the collapse of the Uprising made Mickiewicz move back to western Europe, together with waves of Polish emigrants; via Dresden he went to Paris; settled there in August 1832. In Paris Mickiewicz began energetic journalistic and writing activity; his vision of the role of Poland and the objectives of the Polish emigrants in France was presented in his book Ksiegi narodu i pielgrzymstwa polskiego [The Books of the Polish Nation and the Polish Pilgrimage] (1832); and in articles for the political journal Pielgrzym Polski [Polish Pilgrim], which he edited from April to June 1833. Believing in an imminent all-European revolution, Mickiewicz appealed to the Polish emigrants to unite in the common cause; he presented a Messianic vision of Poland, according to which her suffering was necessary to regenerate all mankind in the upcoming revolution. In the fall of 1839 Mickiewicz began lecturing on Roman literature at the university of Lausanne; in 1840-44 on Slavonic literatures at the Collège de France; suspended as professor by the French authorities for his anti-church attitude and for promoting the religious and mystic ideas of Andrzej Towianski, a representative of Polish Messianism. During the Springtime of the Peoples he was active as a politician, organizer and ideologist. In February 1848 Mickiewicz was received at an audience by Pope Pius IX, during which he was reported to have said that "God's spirit is in the hearts of the Parisian people." Since March 1848 organized in Rome and then in Lombardy a voluntary Polish legion (called the Mickiewicz Legion) to fight against Austria; leading it, Mickiewicz delivered fiery speeches in many Italian towns; he also wrote its political program, Sklad zasad czyli Symbol polityczny Polski [A collection of principles or The political symbol of Poland]; the Legion fought its first battle (against the Austrians) at Lonato on lake Garda. Back in Paris in June 1848, Mickiewicz conducted recruitment of new volunteers and organized support for the Legion; in 1849 he edited a daily in French, La Tribune des Peuples (appearing until November 1849) in which he advocated a program of radical social reforms and solidarity of the people. During Napoleon III's reign, Mickiewicz gave up his political activity and took a post as librarian in the Parisian Library of the Arsenal. During the Crimean war Mickiewicz returned to political activity; in September 1855 he arrived in Constantinople to support the formation of Polish troops to fight against Russia; died suddenly, probably of cholera. Mickiewicz created his most important literary works within only three years: the III part of Dziady [Forefathers' Eve] (1832),Ksiegi narodu ipielgrzym stwa (1832) and Pan Tadeusz (1834); later he only occasionally wrote poetry. An attempt to publish in French (two dramas: Konfederacibarscy and Jakub Jasinski albo dwie Polski) proved unsuccessful, and they were finally published in Polish translation after Mickiewicz's death, in 1866. Mickiewicz, together with two other Polish poets of that time, Juliusz Slowacki and Zygmunt Krasinski, played the role of a national bard and spiritual leader; the cult of Mickiewicz became a part of the Polish national consciousness and expressed itself in solemn celebrations of his anniversaries, as well as giving his name to numerous streets, places, and organizations; Mickiewicz inspired composers, writers, poets, painters, drawers, sculptors. Mickiewicz's collected works were published in 1949-55 (Dziela, Wydanie Narodowe, 16 vols., Warsaw).
Jolanta T. Pekacz


H. Batowski, Legion Mickiewicza w kampanii wlo sko-austriackiej 1848 roku. Warsaw, 1956.

S. Kieniewicz, "Historia 'Trybuny Ludów' Adama Mickieiwcza," Przeglad Historyczny 50 (1959), z. 3, 486-513.

S. Kieniewicz, Legion Mickiewicza 1848-1849. Warsaw, 1957.

M. Kridl, Adam Mickiewicz - Poet of Poland. A Symposium. New York, 1951.

W. Mickiewicz, Zywot Adama Mickiewicza, 4 vols. Poznan, 1890-95.

A. Semkowicz, Bibliografia utworów Adama M ickiewicza do roku 1855.Warsaw, 1958.

Z. Stefanowska, Historia i profecja. Studium o "Ksiegach narodu ipielgrzymstwa polskiego" Adama Mickiewicza. Warsaw, 1962.

A. Witkowska, Slowo i czyn. Warsaw, 1975.

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