Karolina Proniewska (pronunciation (help·info)) or Karolina Praniauskaitė (1828–1859) was a romantic Polish-Lithuanian poet and translator, of Samogitian extraction. Born in Samogitia, a historical region of Lithuania, then part of the Russian Empire, she is sometimes referred to as a Samogitian Bard.
She wrote her original works exclusively in Polish and her poetry published in a single tome Piosneczki (Songs, 1858) initially gained much popularity. However, she also translated numerous works by Polish authors into the Lithuanian language, both in prose and in verse. She is considered one of the first women in the history of Lithuanian literature.
Her own poetry and translations, although popular during her lifetime, are today not widely read. She is remembered largely for her association with Antanas Baranauskas, who became a prominent Lithuanian poet, and one of the classic authors in that language, and whom she is said to have persuaded to write in the Lithuanian language.
Life and works
Karolina Anna Proniewska was born into a szlachta noble family in Samogitia, then under Imperial Russian rule. She was born 18 January 1828 in Padubysys Telšiai in a small manor where Polish culture predominated. Her father, Teofil Proniewski of Korwin, was an assessor at the local court, while her mother was Eleonora née Dobszewicz. Proniewska started to write poems at the age of seven. Her father died when she was seven and her mother had difficulties supporting both the manor and the family.
Three of Karolina's brothers belonged to a close circle of Lithuanian intellectuals who were deeply involved with the growing Lithuanian national movement. As a girl she suffered from tuberculosis, and her eldest brother forbade her to read any books or write poetry, which he supposed would harm her already poor health. She disobeyed. Soon she moved to Telšiai, where she started working as a teacher. Another of her brothers, Otton Proniewski, the personal secretary to the Bishop of Samogitia Motiejus Valančius, financed the publication of a book of her poems, which made her regionally famous, partly due to publications in the Warsaw Gazette, one of the most respected Polish-language newspapers of the time.
Strongly influenced by Adam Mickiewicz's romantic poetry, she is known to have devoted at least one poem to him. Although her published original works were written in the Polish language, with time she also made several translations of Polish-language classics into Lithuanian. Among the most notable of these translations is Matka węży by Józef Ignacy Kraszewski. The translation is said to have had an unprecedented impact on Lithuanian culture as a fundamental work of Lithuanian high art, and to have been much of a much higher quality than her own dilettantish Polish verses.
In 1855, through her sister Tekla, she met Antanas Baranauskas, a young poet then working as a clerk at the nearby farm in Seda. Proniewska instilled into Baranauskas a love for Lithuanian language and culture, and convinced him to start writing his poems in the Lithuanian language. The couple started to exchange letters and, with time, poems. Her brother Otton helped Baranauskas pass his entrance examinations into the Catholic school in Varniai, one of the few venues then open to a member of the lower social strata for attaining an education in 19th century Russia. Baranauskas went on to become a scholar of the Lithuanian language, and wrote what has been described as one of the greatest works in Lithuanian literature, Anykščių šilelis (The Forest of Anykščiai). He also went on to become a Roman Catholic bishop.
It is commonly accepted that Proniewska had been his friend and patron. However, prior to her death, she requested that all of their letters and her diaries be burned, and little documentation of their relationship has survived. She died at the age of 31, on 26 May 1859, and was buried at a cemetery in Utena, where she spent the last months of her life. No pictures of her have survived. Her exact burial place is unknown, but an oak commemorative sculpture at the Utena cemetery bears her name, as does the Telšiai Public Library.
Notes and references
- Baranowski, Antoni (1987). Borek oniksztyński (Anykščiai Forest) (in Polish). Józef Jacek Rojek, Mieczysław Jackiewicz, Juozas Vaina. Olsztyn: Pojezierze. pp. XV–XVII. ISBN 978-83-7002-268-6. Retrieved 2007-10-09.
- Zygmunt Stoberski (1974). Historia literatury litewskiej: zarys (in Polish). Wrocław: Zakład Narodowy im. Ossolińskich. p. 55.
- various authors; Paweł Hertz (1959). Zbiór poetów polskich XIX wieku (Anthology of Polish poets of 19th century) (in Polish). Warsaw: Państwowy Instytut Wydawniczy. p. 347. Retrieved 2007-10-09.
- Karol Estreicher; Stanisław Estreicher (1987). Bibliografia polska (Polish bibliography) (in Polish). 1–2. Kraków: Jagiellonian University Press. ISBN 83-01-06024-7.
- (in Lithuanian) Kulturos Žemelapis. Lithuanian Writer's Union, November 17, 2006.
- Povilas Vitkevičius (1998). "Bajorai Praniauskai A. Baranausko gyvenimo kelyje". Lietuvos bajoras (in Lithuanian). Vilnius: Danielius (3): 29–30. ISSN 1392-1304.
Save Karolina laikė žemaite. Translation: Karolina herself identified as Samogitian.
- Krystyna Syrnicka (May 2002). "Karolina Proniewska – zapomniana poetka ze Żmudzi (Karolina Proniewska, a forgotten poet from Samogitia)". Nasz Czas (in Polish). 20 (559): 25. ISSN 1641-7933. OCLC 69526313. Archived from the original on 2007-07-03.
- S. Geda. XIX amžiaus lietuviai. Retrieved 2007-12-09
- Mukienė, Danutė (2003-05-15). "Žemaitijos rašytojai (Writers from Samogitia)" (in Lithuanian). Retrieved 2007-04-18.
- Egidijus Aleksandravičius (2003). Giesmininko kelias (in Lithuanian). Vilnius: Versus Aureus. p. 82. ISBN 9955-601-00-0.
- Dobkevičius, Kazimieras. "Kauno kunigų seminarija – katalikybės ir lietuvybės židinys". xxi Amzius (in Lithuanian). XXI amžius. Retrieved 2007-11-11.
- various authors (1970–1978). "Karolina Praniauskaite". Encyclopedia Lituanica. I–VI. Boston, Mass.: Lithuanian Encyclopedia Press. Retrieved 2007-10-09.
- Tadeusz Gajl (2003). Herby szlacheckie Rzeczypospolitej Obojga Narodów (in Polish). Gdańsk: Wydawnictwo "L&L". ISBN 83-88595-12-1.
- Egidijus Aleksandravičius (2003), p.83
- various authors (1961). Jerzy Starnawski (ed.). Adam Mickiewicz w poezji polskiej i obcej, 1818-1855-1955 (Adam Mickiewicz in Polish and foreign poetry) (in Polish). Wrocław: Ossolineum. p. 211. Retrieved 2007-10-09.
- Endre Bojtár (2000). Foreword to the Past: A Cultural History of the Baltic People. Budapest: Central European University Press. p. 243. ISBN 963-9116-42-4. Retrieved 2007-10-09.
- Bojtár, Endre (1999). Foreword to the Past: A Cultural History of the Baltic People. Central European University Press. p. 243. ISBN 963-9116-42-4.
- Antanas Baranauskas. UNESCO, Lithuanian Classic Literature Anthology.
- Antanas Baranuskas. Encyclopædia Britannica
- Regina Mikšytė (1964). Antano Baranausko kūryba (in Lithuanian). Vilnius: Vaga. pp. 37–50. Retrieved 2007-10-09.
- (in Lithuanian) Istorijos paminklai (Historical Monuments) at the Utena Cemetery. Encyclopedia of Utena.
- Lithuania in the European Union - Europe information centres. Euro.lt