Portrait of Antoni Lange by Stanisław Wyspiański, 1899
|Born||1861 or 1863
|Died||17 March 1929
|Pen name||Antoni Wrzesień, Napierski|
|Occupation||Poet, Philosopher, Novelist, translator|
|Genres||poem, epic poem, narrative poem, novel, short story, essay, drama, frame story|
|Literary movement||Modernism, Symbolism, Young Poland
precursor to existentialism, collage, imagism and science-fiction
Antoni Lange (1863 – 17 March 1929) was a Polish poet, philosopher, polyglot (15 languages), writer, novelist, science-writer, reporter and translator. A representative of Polish Parnassianism and symbolism, he is also regarded as belonging to the Decadent movement. He was an expert on Romanticism, French literature and a popularizer of culture of Eastern cultures. He is famous for his novel Miranda.
He translated English, French, Hungarian, Italian, Spanish, Indian, American, Serbian, Egyptian and Oriental writers into Polish and Polish poets into French and English. He was also one of the most original poets of the Young Poland movement. His work is often compared to Stéphane Mallarmé and Charles Marie René Leconte de Lisle.
Lange was an uncle of the poet Bolesław Leśmian.
- 1 Life
- 2 Writing
- 3 Other works
- 4 Bibliography
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 External links
Little is known about Lange's personal life, even the date of his birth is doubtful. He was born into a strongly patriotic Jewish family who were influenced by the ideals of Romanticism. His father Henri Lange took part in the November Uprising. Young Antoni studied at Warsaw University but he was expelled for his patriotic activity by the Tsarist Russian authorities who ruled Poland at the time. For this reason he decided to study in Paris where he encountered new trends in literature, philosophy and art. In France he became familiar with the theories of Jean Martin Charcot, as well as Spiritualism, parapsychology, the philosophy of Arthur Schopenhauer and Friedrich Nietzsche, oriental religions, European and Eastern literature and modern literary criticism. He took part in the literary meetings of Stéphane Mallarmé.
He soon returned to his homeland, having become a dandy, and he became one of the best known members of Polish Bohemian life. Bolesław Prus, Julian Ochorowicz and Lange were the first Polish spiritists. In the 1890s he lived in Nowy Świat Street together with Władysław Reymont, a Polish writer and the winner of the Nobel Prize of 1924. Stanisław Brzozowski called Lange a real and not frequently European mind and Julian Tuwim called him a master of reflective poetry. During this time Lange was a member of the Society of Polish Writers and Journalists. However, with the sharp growth of his popularity as a poet his poems became more sceptical, pessimistic and hermetic. The main theme of the poems of this period was the feeling of being isolated and misunderstood by the crowd.
Przychodzę do was z daleka...
I come to you from far away
At the beginning of the 20th century he withdrew from public life and became lonely and forgotten. He collected his last poems in notebooks and never allowed anyone to publish them.
There are only two portraits of Lange, one of them was painted by Stanisław Wyspiański in 1890.
Lange was a prolific and versatile writer. He wrote many novels (Miranda), short stories (Zbrodnia, Amor i Faun), dramas (Malczewski, Wenedzi), essays and poems. Lange's poetry is contemplative and erudite. It connects the traditions of European culture with Buddhism. The overriding theme of Lange's existential concerns was 'extremity' and the 'cycle' of death. In order to form of the poetry Lange connect to contradictory points of impressionism, romantic sentimentality and experimentary theories of Stéphane Mallarmé. Lange was fond of rare poetic forms: acrostics, dactyls, pantoums, praeludiums, scherzos, canticles and triolets. He was also the author of many pastorals concerning the metaphysical side of village life; historiosophical songs inspired by the genesis philosophy of Juliusz Słowacki; and exotic genesis mythologies from all over the world (from Mexico to Japan).
Lange was also the author of many lyrical essays presenting original views about the relationship between poet and reader concerning eschatological issues (Thoughts, The Grave).
In the first phase of his writing he was a lover of esthetism, formal innovation and the theories of Stéphane Mallarmé. However, later he faced to primitivism, anonymity, writings of folk poets and 16th century poets and blank verse.
Both Lange and Jerzy Żuławski are often referred to as "The Pioneers of Polish Science-Fiction". Lange's short stories from the book W czwartym wymiarze (In the Fourth Dimension, 1912) such as Babunia (Grandma), Rozaura, Lenora, Rebus (Puzzle), Nowe mieszkanie (The New House) and Memoriał doktora Czang-Fu-Li (Dr. Chang Fu Li's Report) are regarded as early examples of science fiction and weird fiction in Poland. The main themes of the stories are: hypnosis, the elixir of youth, eternal love and the materialization of phantoms. On a different note, Dr. Chang Fu Li's eponymous report, "written in Paris in 2652", is concerned with the climate change brought about by the re-routing of the Gulf Stream and the subsequent freezing over of Europe, with China taking over as the leading civilization.
Lange's works influenced many poets of the next generation, for example: Bolesław Leśmian, Antoni Słonimski, Julian Tuwim, Julian Przyboś, Jan Lechoń, Leopold Staff. Paradoxically, most of these poets criticized Lange for his anachronism, eccentricity and overintellectualism.
Lange was also a left wing journalist. He wrote for many important Polish newspapers such as Pobudka, Tygodnik Illustrowany or Przegląd tygodniowy. He created an original way of cultural assimilation for Jews via mixed marriage.
Lange's numerous translations of classic 19th century literature from all over the world are still highly regarded. His translations of The Golem by Gustav Meyrink and poems by Charles Baudelaire, Edgar Allan Poe and George Gordon Byron are masterpieces of Polish translation. He also edited many anthologies of his own translations of Egyptian, Syrian, Persian, Arabian, Indian and Hebrew poems.
His main sources of inspiration were: the poetry of the Three Bards,; the theories of Stéphane Mallarmé; the writings of Charles-Marie-René Leconte de Lisle; Sanskrit epics of ancient India such as Mahabharata or Savitri; and the poetry of the Polish Baroque era, especially metaphysical poets such as Mikołaj Sęp Szarzyński and Józef Baka because of their obsession with death.
In many critics' view Thoughts is Lange's key work. It is a long poem in two volumes: the first, Thoughts, was published as a cycle of fifty-six poems in 1906; it was followed by The New Series of Thoughts, written in 1928. Thoughts is a work about the loneliness and alienation of the artist whose existence has been alternating between a sense of the absurdity of life and a belief in an ideal world since the moment he was born. The poem ends with a mysterious and disturbing vision of the artist's contact with the other world ("There stands some strange Chimera upon me") and consoling reflections about life and death, good and evil while sitting in the garden at evening. Thoughts explores the subjects of Nirvana, suicide, mare tenebrarum and the life of an artist, but the main theme of the poem is death and searching for understanding from others.
Vita Nova and other love poems
Lange was the author of many love poems influenced by Romanticism, spiritualism and Indian mythology.
Gdzie ty jesteś, bogini?
Where are you goddess?
Other love poems by Lange, for example Vita Nova (A New Life) written in 1898, present an original vision of a decadent and melancholy poet who momentarily becomes an Übermensch thanks to the illusion of requited love. Unfortunately, there is always a conflict between the vision of ideal love and its realisation. Lange takes also notes the "painful impossibility" of the absolute and eternal union of lovers' souls; he creates a pesimistic vision of the relationship between man and woman, which is always burdened by the certainty that complete fulfilment is impossible.
In Lange's verses love always makes the subject feel as if he has been exiled from and deprived of a latent part of his own existence, but simultaneously he believes that lovers can communicate and feel the same by transmitting their pain and the power of their affection in defiance of metaphorical distance.
Deuteronomion, The Hour, Logos and Sonnets of Veda
The writing similar to Sonnets of Veda in order to form is Logos. It is a cycle of ten sonnets which discuss with ten points of view on logos of history by ten outstanding representatives of historiosophy of Polish Romanticism. The poems are strongly influenced by ideas of messianism.
The Hour written in 1894 was the first prose of Lange, but the short symbolic novel was published in 1895 in the first volume of Poems. It is a story of Artemis and Auora, the two ancient goddesses who descends to Earth to bear witness to problems of human life. In some points The Hour is similar to the drama A Dream Play written by August Strindberg in 1901 and The Woman without a Shadow written by Hugo von Hofmannsthal in 1919. The novel contains many mystical fragments stylized on some kind of religious texts, psalms, manifesto, the greek tragedy and the ode. It also connects prose with elements of poetry and drama.
One of the most representative Lange's writing is Deuteronomion, a mystical occultic poem written in Paris in 1902. It is very hermetic and hard to interpret because of its many allusions to the Bible, Kabbalah, Sanscrit and ancient Slavic legends. The poem tells about a person of a Poet who travels within his soul to hammer out a great initiation of himself and the universe. It is meaningful that Deuteronomion begins with the Epilogue to myself and ends with the Prologue to the unknown god.
Exotica and The Book of Prophets
Lange is also an author of Exotica, an original epic poem which tells about the beginning of the other world, creation of woman and the end of the history in connection to legends of primitive folks of New Zealand, Mexico, Guatemala and Polynesia. The poem takes a look on the main irresolutions of decadent in way of exotic mithologies.
Other exotic poem of Lange is The Book of Prophets which contains six chapters: Unity or the book of Moses, Greatness or the book of Brahma, Fight or the book of Zoroaster, Love or the book of Jesus, Determinity or the book of Muhammad and Manumission or the book of Buddha.
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Lange inaugurated a return to narrative poetry, a form which was unprecedented in Polish literature. This species of poetry was mainly used in Romanticism (for example, by George Gordon Byron or Adam Mickiewicz) and in late 19th century went out of use. Therefore, Lange was probably the last and only poet who wrote narrative poems in Poland. There are:
- The Oracle, a poem based on an Indian legend
- Ilya Muromets, a poem inspired by bylina
- The Vision of Catherine of Alexandria
Lange wrote also A Song of Płanetnik, a narrative poem referred to a character of Płanetnik. Płanetnik is a little Slavic ghost from the legends of pagans who lived from the earliest historical times to the Middle Ages on Polish territories. He was a guardian of clouds and a lonely dreamer who predicted the weather. It was supposed that Płanetniks were stray souls of suiciders and victims of murder. One would call them by sprinkling flour to the wind or fire. A Song of Płanetnik by Lange tells the story of a young sensitive man who lost contact with reality and set off on a solitary existence.
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In Lange's cosmogony-philosophy, he announced that evolution of the soul is parallel to evolution of a nation. Capitalism is the enemy of this principle because it acts against individualism, so capitalism is the ideology of the anonymous crowd. If there is no individualism among the people, then there is also not a problem of "bad" versus "good". Then the world comes to disturb its own logic. According to Lange, a world that 'was being born' from ideal space, is still coming to the highest stage of evolution; sometime, it will return to its primary stage. Every step to evolution is a step to the ideal primary. An exception of this "rule of time-line" is the person of genius, who is between the times. In Lange's philosophy he referred to Giambattista Vico and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel.
Critic of Romanticism
An important part of Lange's writing was the criticism of legacy of romanticism in modern poetry. In 1924 he founded Astrea, a science-magazine and the first forum about the Polish and European romanticism. Lange rejected romantic illumination and brainwave. In his view theological truth is within the reach only of erudition, intellect and afterthought. Lange criticized also the importance of individualism and the authorial personality. Placing the poem as an artwork at the center, as an eidos of poetry, he affirmed the poem's own existence and a clear idea of creation, therefore he disagreed with the cult of individualism.
Lange's original literary speculations were collected in books such as Rzuty ("Projections"), O poezji współczesnej ("On Contemporary Poetry") and Studia i wrażenia ("Studies and Impressions").
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- Vox Posthuma – a philosophical treatise about an archetypical enfant du siècle
- Godzina ("The Hour") – an occult novel about the connections between the ideal and the material world, estheticism in poetry and real life etc.
- Pogrzeb Shelleya ("The Funeral of Shelley") – an ode to Percy Bysshe Shelley
- Księgi proroków ("Books of the Prophets") – a collection of cosmogonical poetry referred to Buddhism, Zoroastrianism and Islam
- Exotica – an historiosophical poem about the genesis of the world, God, Man and Woman
- Pogrobowcy ("Posthumous Verses") – a collection of early poems strongly influenced by positivism
- Rozmyślania ("Contemplations" or "Thoughts") – a philosophical poem about the dead, strongly influenced by Romanticism, Baroque poetry and decadentism
- Ballady pijackie ("Drunken Ballads") – a lyrical essay about the drugs and alcohol enjoyed by decadent poets
- Stypa ("Meeting") – a frame story about the suicide of young man after a tragic love affair
- Widzenie świętej Katarzyny ("The Vision of Saint Catherine of Alexandria") – a lyrical story about the social and metaphysical consequences of the death of God
- W czwartym wymiarze ("In the Fourth Dimension") – one of the first science-fiction books in Polish literature
- Miranda – an occult novel about tragic love and the vision of an ideal woman in an ideal civilisation of Brahmins
- Róża polna ("The Wild Rose")
- Atylla ("Attila")
- Malczewski – a play about the life of the Polish Romantic poet Antoni Malczewski
- Vita Nova – a cycle of 11 philosophical poems about an ideal vision of love, pain and loneliness
- Pieśni dla przyjaciół ("Odes to Friends") – a collection of odes to Polish poets such as Jan Kasprowicz and Zenon Przesmycki
- English (poems from Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, poems of Lord Byron, Edgar Allan Poe, short-stories of Herbert George Wells, Paradise Lost of John Milton, Novum Organum of Francis Bacon)
- French (poems of Charles-Marie-René Leconte de Lisle, Charles Baudelaire, Théodore de Banville, selected works of Gustave Flaubert, poetry by Maurice Maeterlinck)
- Italian (works of Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, New Science of Giambattista Vico)
- German (works of Arthur Schopenhauer and Friedrich Nietzsche)
- Sonety wedyckie (1887)
- Pogrzeb Shelleya (1890)
- Wenus żebracza (1890)
- Ballady pijackie (1895)
- Księgi proroków (1895)
- Logos (1895)
- Poezje (I – 1895; II – 1898)
- Pogrobowcom (1901)
- Świat (1901)
- Fragmenta. Poezje wybrane (1901)
- Pocałunki (1902)
- Deuteronomion (1902)
- Akteon (1903)
- Księgi bogów (1903)
- Rozmyślania (1906)
- Pierwszy dzień stworzenia (1907)
- XXVII sonetów (1914)
- Ilia Muromiec (1916)
- Trzeci dzień (1925)
- Groteski. Wiersze ironiczne (1927)
- Rozmyślania. Z nowej serii (1928)
- Gdziekolwiek jesteś (1931)
- Ostatni zbiór poezji (1931)
Novels and short stories
- Godzina (1894)
- Elfryda: nowele i fantazje(1895)
- Zbrodnia (1907)
- Dwie bajki (1910)
- Czterdzieści cztery (1910)
- Stypa (1911)
- W czwartym wymiarze (1912)
- Miranda (1924)
- Nowy Tarzan (1925)
- Róża polna (1926)
- Michałki (1926)
- Atylla (1898)
- Wenedzi (1909)
- Malczewski (1931)
- O sprzeczności sprawy żydowskiej (1890)
- Analfabetyzm i walka z ciemnotą w Królestwie Polskim (1892)
- O poezji współczesnej (1895)
- Studia z literatury francuskiej (1897)
- Studia i wrażenia (1900)
- Lord Byron (1905)
- Rzuty (1905)
- Panteon literatury wszechświatowej (1921)
- Pochodnie w mroku (1927)
- A. Hutnikiewicz, Młoda Polska, Warszawa 2004, p. 316
- S. Brzozowski The Legend of Young Poland (Legenda Młodej Polski): http://univ.gda.pl/~literat/legenda/012.htm
- Note from Władca czasu (The Master of Time), edited by Julian Tuwim, Warsaw 1983
- Leszek Mieszczak. "Antoni Lange" (in Polish). Retrieved 13 December 2011.
- A faithful translation from Poland.[attribution needed]
- Lange believed that being on the road is similar to feeling existentional loneliness
- The poems were published posthumously in 1931 in the appendix to Lange's play Malczewski
- However, Wojciech Zdarzyński by Michał Dymitr Krajewski published in 1785 is considered the first Polish science-fiction novel.
- They are: Rupa (the stage of the stone); Jiv-Atma (the stage of the plant); Linga-Sharira (the stage of the stars); Kama-Rupa (Anima bruta); Manas (human spirit); Buddhi (Anima spiritualis); Atma (the Great Soul)
- There are: Józef Hoene-Wroński, Józef Gołuchowski, Adam Mickiewicz, Andrzej Towiański, Juliusz Słowacki, Zygmunt Krasiński, Henryk Cieszkowski, Bronisław Ferdynand Trentowski, Karol Libelt, Józef Kremer
- Lange's poems in Esperanto
- A poem Madame S... original written by Lange in French
- Copies of the first editions of twenty books of Lange
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