International brigades of mice and rats join forces to defend the rodents of Poland, threatened with extermination at the paws of cats favoured by the ancient ruler King Popiel, a sybaritic, cowardly ruler… The Hag of Discord incites a vicious rivalry between monastic orders, which only the good monks’ common devotion to… fortified spirits… is able to allay… The present translation of the mock epics of Poland’s greatest figure of the Enlightenment, Ignacy Krasicki, brings together the Mouseiad, the Monachomachia, and the Anti-monachomachia — a tongue-in-cheek ‘retraction’ of the former work by the author, criticised for so roundly (and effectively) satirising the faults of the Church, of which he himself was a prince. Krasicki towers over all forms of eighteenth-century literature in Poland like Voltaire, Swift, Pope, and LaFontaine all rolled into one. While his fables constitute his most well-known works of poetry, in the words of American comparatist Harold Segel, ‘the good bishop’s mock-epic poems […] are the most impressive examples of his literary gifts.’ This English translation by Charles S. Kraszewski is rounded off by one of Krasicki’s lesser-known works, The Chocim War, the poet’s only foray into the genre of the serious, Vergilian epic.
Charles S. Kraszewski (b. 1962) is a poet and translator. He is the author of three volumes of original verse (Diet of Nails; Beast; Chanameed). Several of his translations of Polish and Czech literature have been published by Glagoslav, among which may be found: Adam Mickiewicz’s Forefathers’ Eve (2016) and Sonnets (2018), Zygmunt Krasiński’s Dramatic Works (2018) and Stanisław Wyspiański’s Acropolis: the Wawel Plays (2017). His translations of the poetry of T.S. Eliot, Robinson Jeffers, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti into Polish have appeared in the Wrocław monthly Odra. He is a member of the Union of Polish Writers Abroad (London) and of the Association of Polish Writers (Kraków).
Endorsements and Review Quotes
“The humor of the mock epics, and the language throughout – i.e. Kraszewski’s ebullient rendering – make for a really enjoyable read – both silent, for oneself, and out loud. The latter, especially: the language and some of the slightly tortured constructions might be a bit of a challenge for the kids, but these really can be recommended as read-out-loud works, as good family fun.” Michael Orthofer, the complete review
The book has “wit, energy, a love of form, and a wry, semi-detached approach to Polishness, qualities the translator has lovingly transmitted.” Kate Pursglove, East-West Review