Edited By Wojciech Jasiakiewicz and Jakub Lipski
Austenian inspirations for Maria Wirtemberska’s “Original Romance”: Malvina, or the Heart’s Intuition (1816)
It is a fact that Jane Austen’s novels were not rendered into Polish in the nineteenth century, the first translation being published as late as 1934 (Bystydzieńska 2007). Yet there is ample evidence to suggest that novels by Western European authors were read by educated Poles either in their original language versions or in French translations and adaptations (Zawadzka 1997). More importantly, there is evidence of the Polish upper-classes’ sufficient proficiency in the English language to read and appreciate English literature in the original (Sinko 1966), the Czartoryski family being a case in point (Gołębiowska 2000).1 It is also a fact that Prince Adam Kazimierz Czartoryski was impressed by the anonymously published Pride and Prejudice2 to the point of trying to establish its authorship in 1814, and that the library at the Puławy seat of the Czartoryski family held 1813 copies of Sense and Sensibility as well as Pride and Prejudice. All this is crucial in viewing the romance by Maria Wirtemberska, née Czartoryska, as a text likely to have been influenced by Jane Austen’s works, as several parallels emerge in terms of the motifs and characters central to the novel’s structure. Importantly, the popularity of Austen’s work in Poland was rather limited – as Bystydzieńska explains:
Austen […] did not suit the interests of Polish Romanticism with her seemingly “trivial” topics, humorous tone and well-structured novels, which appeared to present an orderly, harmonious universe. […] The “liberation” of women in Polish literature...
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