Sir Walter the Neglected

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dulcinea
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Sir Walter the Neglected

Post by dulcinea » Wed Aug 03, 2005 3:46 pm

In 2004, eager to know what else Henryk Sienkiewicz had written besides QUO VADIS?, I read everything by him that the central library of Tampa contained. My curiosity was well rewarded: I found HS to be an excellent writer who could invent ingenuous plots and create vivid characters and dialogue--in short, anything but a one-hit wonder. I realized that the only reason for which he is not better known is because virtually all of his writing revolves around the history of Poland, a subject little known outside of Central Europe. Most regrettable, I said to myself. Today, I'm curious about Sir Walter Scott. He was one of the most successful writers of the 19th century. His work inspired such musical creations as the WAVERLEY overture and the opera LUCIA DI LAMMERMOOR. That hilarious Mel Brooksian parody of the historical genre, A TALE OF TWO CITIES, was created in imitation of Scott's work. Now Sir WS is neglected--forgotten. Unlike his contemporary Jane Austen, who is now such a hot commodity, nobody is interested in filming his novels. Even MASTERPIECE THEATRE has ignored him completely! Why is it so? It cannot be because historical novels have fallen out of fashion; Alexandre Dumas, pere, is still one of the most widely read and filmed authors in the world.
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Post by Ralph » Wed Aug 03, 2005 3:50 pm

From nobelprize.org:

Henryk Sienkiewicz – Biography

Henryk Sienkiewicz Henryk Sienkiewicz (1846-1916), the most outstanding and prolific Polish writer of the second half of the nineteenth century, was born in Wola Okrzejska, in the Russian part of Poland. His father's family was actively engaged in the revolutionary struggles for Polish independence, which accounts for the strong patriotic element in Sienkiewicz' work. Historical scholarship on the other hand ran in his mother's family.

Sienkiewicz studied in Warsaw, but without any visible results. His talent as a writer was soon discovered. His early works are satirical sketches, betraying a strong social conscience. He made a trip to America in 1876 and travelled as far as California. His impressions were published in Polish newspapers and received very favourably. His travels provided him with material for several works, among them the brilliant short story Latarnik (1882) [The Lighthouse Keeper].

After his return to Poland, Sienkiewicz devoted himself to historical studies, the result of which was his great trilogy about Poland in the midseventeenth century. Ogniem i mieczem [With Fire and Sword], Potop [The Deluge] and Pan Wolodyjowski [Pan Michael] were published in 1884, 1886, and 1888 respectively. The historical novels were followed by works on contemporary subjects: Bez dogmatu (1891) [Without Dogma], a psychological study of a sophisticated decadent man, and Rodzina Polanieckich (1894) [Children of the Soil], a peasant novel. In 1895 Sienkiewicz published his greatest success, Quo Vadis, a novel of Christian persecutions at the time of Nero.

In his later novels he returned again to historical subjects. Krzyzacy (1900) deals with a period of medieval history, the victory of the Poles over the Teutonic Knights; Na polu chwaly ( 1906) [On the Field of Glory] is a sequel to his seventeenth-century trilogy. His last works Wiry (1910) [Whirlpools] and W pustyni i w puszczy (1912) [In Desert and Wilderness] again deal with contemporary subjects.

Sienkiewicz was immensely popular. In 1900, a national subscription raised enough funds to buy for him the castle in which his ancestors had lived. The complete edition of his works, published 1948-55, runs to sixty volumes.

From Nobel Lectures, Literature 1901-1967, Editor Horst Frenz, Elsevier Publishing Company, Amsterdam, 1969

This autobiography/biography was written at the time of the award and later published in the book series Les Prix Nobel/Nobel Lectures. The information is sometimes updated with an addendum submitted by the Laureate. To cite this document, always state the source as shown above.

Henryk Sienkiewicz died on November 15, 1916.
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Post by Corlyss_D » Wed Aug 03, 2005 10:58 pm

You're the second person to recommend Sienkiewicz to me. He wrote a trilogy on the history of Poland that a friend recommend some time ago. He found it very compelling - he was very animated when he talked about it.

I have no idea why Sienkiewicz is so neglected.
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Ralph
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Post by Ralph » Thu Aug 04, 2005 4:55 am

Corlyss_D wrote:You're the second person to recommend Sienkiewicz to me. He wrote a trilogy on the history of Poland that a friend recommend some time ago. He found it very compelling - he was very animated when he talked about it.

I have no idea why Sienkiewicz is so neglected.
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His name is hard to pronouce. Imagine if "Hamlet" had been written by Shakespeirienkiwicz. Hardly anyone would know of it today.
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Post by CharmNewton » Thu Aug 04, 2005 11:06 pm

Ralph wrote:
Corlyss_D wrote:You're the second person to recommend Sienkiewicz to me. He wrote a trilogy on the history of Poland that a friend recommend some time ago. He found it very compelling - he was very animated when he talked about it.

I have no idea why Sienkiewicz is so neglected.
*****

His name is hard to pronouce. Imagine if "Hamlet" had been written by Shakespeirienkiwicz. Hardly anyone would know of it today.
It's easy. It's pronounced just like it's spelled. :D

John

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