Additions to this page made in Spring 2014 are indicated by a gold border.
The treasure-house of Polish literature is far more extensive and accessible to English-language readers than many people may think. In addition to English translations of the most famous works--works with which Polish literature has tended to be identified--there are many translations of works by authors who are less well-known in English. These translations, while usually available in print format, are increasingly accessible in electronic formats.
This website--this online bibliography--is intended for both academics and the general public. Readers who are more familiar with Polish literature might wonder why this bibliography organizes it by century rather than by Polish literary period. One reason is that while there are recognized periods for Polish literature into the 20th century (Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, Enlightenment, Romanticism, Positivism, Young Poland . . .), not every author can be easily placed into a particular literary period or movement--especially those authors who cross borders.Regarding translations available on the Web, I've tried to make available the great number and variety of them, which means that I've chosen not to judge their quality. While some variations are due to the fact that translation is as much of an art as is the original literary writing, others may be due to language mistakes, typographical errors, and/or less than meticulous editing. Therefore, while one of the marvelous advantages of the Web is that availability of translations of Polish literature is far less dependent on profit-motive, one of its drawbacks is the potential reduction in the amount and quality of editing.
For translations of Polish works in book format, the site provides bibliographic information. However, I've chosen not to link to vendors in order not to privilege one over another, and because sometimes what one vendor identifies as out of print or unavailable may not be so. As a result, the site also doesn't identify e-books that use proprietary e-book formats; at this point, generally only free e-books are included--usually those in the public domain.
As much as possible, I've tried to verify the status of printed works by checking multiple sources, including publishers' catalogs, the U.S. Library of Congress, and the WorldCat database. However, since I've surely missed works or authors, I invite corrections and additions (see my e-mail address at the bottom of this page).
For works that have been published in periodicals, I've included those print and online periodicals that I've been able to access directly or through databses; this is one area that I've been trying to expand.
Finally, many pieces of Polish literature were translated into English in years past. Although no longer in print, they're still accessible through libraries, especially via InterLibrary Loan. In addition, an increasing number of out-of-print books whose copyright has expired have been electronically scanned and are becoming available online; I've added all such e-books that I could find.
This logical question actually consists of two issues: What constitutes 'literature'? and Which authors (or works) qualify as 'Polish'? Because there is some variation in how "literature" is defined, and because the issue of who is "Polish" is one that could be hotly contested, there may be some disagreements both among browsers of this list and between browsers and me about the appropriate solutions to these issues. I welcome productive and enlightening discussion that would improve the site. At this point, though, I'll explain my rationale for the inclusions and exclusions in the list's current incarnation:
What constitutes 'literature'?
Along with the prose fiction, playscripts, and poems that represent the three primary genres of writing that have tended to be identified with "literature" over the past two centuries, this site includes letters, diaries, personal essays, and some nonfiction (for example, reportage) both by people with an established literary reputation and by those who didn't necessarily intend their writing for publication. The 1791 Constitution, as well as the lyrics to major patriotic and religious hymns and songs, are also on the list. However, at this point most scientific, political, historical, religious and philosophical treatises are not, except for those from the earlier periods of Polish history.
In addition, since the site includes audio sources (readings) of works (such as audio versions of Sienkiewicz's Quo Vadis), it seems logical also to list available cinematic versions of literary works that offer English subtitles.
Which authors (or works) qualify as 'Polish'?
Categorizations of "national literatures" are marked by very fuzzy boundaries and gray areas. Especially given the fluidity of Polish borders and the 120-year non-existence of a Polish political state, this issue has been more difficult to resolve with any level of satisfaction, particularly in terms of these questions:
The initial versions of the bibliography were restricted to authors who were born in what was considered Polish national or cultural territory at the time of their birth and who--except for pre-17th century authors writing in Latin--wrote at least some of their works in the Polish language. Over the past few revisions, I've added increasingly more authors born in Polish national/cultural territory who did/do not necessarily write in Polish.
Bear Now My Soul: Polish Verse. Trans. & Ed. Noel Clark. London: Veritas Foundation. 2001.
Dedalus Book of Polish Fantasy. Ed. Wiesiek Powaga. New York: Hippocrene. 1997.
The Glass Mountain: Twenty-Eight Ancient Polish Folktales and Fables. Ed. W. S. Kuniczak. New York: Hippocrene. 1997.
Polish Treasury of Love Poems. Ed. Mirosław Lipinski. New York: Hippocrene. 1997. Audio.
Polish Writers on Writing. Ed. Adam Zagajewski. San Antonio, TX: Trinity U P. 2007.
Russian and Polish Women's Fiction. Ed. Helena Goscilo. U Tennessee P. 1985.
Selected Polish Tales. Trans. Else Benecke and Marie Busch. World Literature CD. B&R Samizdat Express. Windows-compatible CD-ROM.
Stranger in Our Midst: Images of the Jew in Polish Literature. Ed. Harold B. Segel. Ithaca, NY: Cornell U P. 1996.
Treasury of Polish Love Poems. Vol. 2. Ed. Mirosław Lipinski. New York: Hippocrene. 2003.
Treasury of Classic Polish Love Stories in Polish and English. Ed. Mirosław Lipinski. New York: Hippocrene. 1997.
Treasury of Polish Love Poems, Quotations and Proverbs (bilingual). Ed. Mirosław Lipinski. New York: Hippocrene. 1994.
Czerwinski, E.J., ed. Dictionary of Polish Literature. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. 1994.
Krzyżanowski, Julian. A History of Polish Literature. Trans. Doris Ronowicz. Warsaw: PWN-Polish Scientific Publishers. 1978.
Miłosz, Czesław. The History of Polish Literature. 2nd. ed. Berkeley: U California P. 1984.
Last updated: Spring 2014