Kordian (Polish: Kordian: Część pierwsza trylogii. Spisek
koronacyjny; English: Kordian: First Part of a Trilogy: The Coronation
Plot) is a drama written in 1833, and published in 1834, by Juliusz
Słowacki, one of the "Three Bards" of Polish literature.
one of the most notable works of Polish Romanticism and
drama, and is considered one of Słowacki's best works.
4 Cultural influences
6 See also
8 Further reading
9 External links
Słowacki began work on
Kordian about early 1833, completing it in
late November that year, while he was in Switzerland. It was
published next year in Paris, anonymously, leading to
speculation that it might have been written by the foremost Polish
poet, Adam Mickiewicz. Still, it received little positive notice in
the first years after its publication. It premiered in 1889 in
Austrian-held Kraków, at the theatre now named for
Słowacki. It had to wait until 1916 for its first
performance in Russian-held Warsaw.
Another notable production occurred in 1956 under Erwin Axer. Other
leading directors who have staged
Leon Schiller (in
the 1930s) and
Jerzy Grotowski (1962). The play has become a
Polish theatre repertory.
Though Kordian's title and some of Słowacki's letters indicate that
he had planned to write, and may actually have written drafts of,
second and third parts, they were never published and, if written,
were either destroyed or remain lost.
Kordian has been required reading in Polish schools. In 1994 it
aired on Polish TV Theatre.
After Kordian, a 15-year-old romantic, suffers rejection in love and
survives an unsuccessful suicide attempt, he travels through Europe,
learning the importance of money. He changes from an adolescent
dreamer into a youth in quest of a purpose; in a moment of epiphany,
the tragic lover transforms into an idealistic patriot. Inspired by
Arnold von Winkelried, he resolves to devote his life to
Russian Tsar Nicholas I (Russia having been one of
Poland's three partitioners). Ultimately
Kordian fails in his mission
because of qualms over the ethics of assassination—but escapes with
This play has been translated into English for the first time by
Gerard T. Kapolka. It was published by The Green Lantern Press in
Kordian comprises three acts, written in rhymed thirteen-syllable
The play, inspired by the failure of the November 1830 Uprising, is
a study of a Polish romantic revolutionary's psyche.
Kordian — his
name was coined by Słowacki — is a typical romantic hero torn
by his emotions. The play is also a polemic and a critique of romantic
heroes in general, and in particular that of Mickiewicz's Dziady
(Forefathers' Eve, 1823).
Kordian is often contrasted with
the latter's hero, Konrad, as
Kordian contemplates a dishonorable
means to achieve victory (assassination) and fails in his task.
Słowacki intended to do more than merely show his disappointment with
the failure of the November 1830 Uprising; he questioned whether
Poland's fate was—as
Mickiewicz suggested—in the hands of God,
rather than being the plaything of Satan.
Słowacki employed old devices as well as new ones, previously not
widely used in romantic dramas. He borrowed devices from Shakespeare
Kordian is often compared to
Hamlet ) but also emphasized
fantastic elements as well as contemporary, real-world political
events. Imitating Byron's ironical attitude, Słowacki in the
introduction to his poem treats the contemporary actors in the
revolution rather flippantly.
Kordian is considered a difficult piece to analyze and interpret. A
common interpretation, seen by more recent scholars as unsatisfactory,
is that of
Kordian as a critique of romantic ideals.
Kordian has inspired the short story "Gotyk" (Gothic) by Jacek Dukaj
(published in Xavras Wyżryn i inne fikcje narodowe, 2004), which is a
science-fiction continuation of Kordian.
Kordian i cham
Jacek Dukaj, Gotyk
Assassinations in fiction
List of Poles
^ (in Polish) Okresy literackie - Romantyzm, WIEM Encyklopedia
^ (in Polish) Słowacki Juliusz, PWN Encyklopedia
^ (in Polish) Polska. Teatr. Okres 1765–1918, PWN Encyklopedia
^ a b c d e f g h i j Christopher John Murray, Encyclopedia of the
romantic era, 1760-1850, Volume 1, Taylor & Francis, 2004,
ISBN 1-57958-423-3, Google Print, p.624
^ a b c d e f g h i j k l (in Polish) Agnieszka Szurek, Kordian,
^ theatres in Poland: THE JULIUSZ SLOWACKI THEATRE IN KRAKOW
^ theatre profiles: ERWIN AXER
^ a b Erika Fischer-Lichte, History of European drama and theatre,
Routledge, 2002, ISBN 0-415-18059-7, Google Print, p.333
^ Harold B. Segel, Polish romantic drama: three plays in English
translation, Taylor & Francis, 1997, ISBN 90-5702-088-2,
Google Print, p.23
^ Presumably from "cor, cordis,"
Latin for "heart."
^ Kathleen M. Cioffi, Alternative theatre in Poland, 1954-1989,
Routledge, 1996, ISBN 3-7186-5854-2, Google Print, p.8
^ a b Kimball King, Western
Drama Through the Ages: A Student
Reference Guide, Volume 1, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2007,
ISBN 0-313-32934-6, Google Print, p.216
^ Rines, George Edwin, ed. (1920). "Kordyan". Encyclopedia
^ (in Polish) Gotyk Archived 2011-09-06 at the Wayback Machine.,
Sarrazin, G. (1906). Les grands poètes romantiques de la Pologne.
Paris. pp. 221–225.
Kordian at Wikisource (in Polish)
Kordian (in Polish)
Motifs in K