Aug. 23 [Sept. 4, New Style], 1809, Krzemieniec, Pol.
April 3, 1849, Paris, France.
Poet and playwright who, with Adam Mickiewicz and Zygmunt Krasinski, dominated the Romantic movement in Polish literature. His technical virtuosity, rich and inventive vocabulary, and evocative imagery made him a precursor of the Symbolist poets.
The son of a university professor, Slowacki was educated in Vilnius, Lithuania, until 1829, when he joined the Department of the Treasury in Warsaw. He was absorbed with reading and writing poetry. In the Polish insurrection of 1830, he appears to have been made an envoy of the insurrectionary government. He resigned from the Treasury in 1831 and travelled to Dresden, Paris, and London, presumably carrying dispatches. In 1833-35 Slowacki was in Switzerland, and a year later he was in Italy, where he wrote his love idyll W Szwajcarii (1839; "In Switzerland"). His travels to the Middle East in 1837-38 are described in Podrôz do ziemi swietej (published posthumously, 1866; "Voyage to the Holy Land"), a narrative poem. He spent most of his exile in Paris, which was the centre for the large number of émigrés who had fled from Poland following the 1830 uprising. His letters to his mother from Paris are classics of Polish prose.
Slowacki’s other works include Anhelli (1838), a poem in prose, in which he scanned the recent past and present, finding in a projection of his own self the promise of Poland’s delivery. His visionary views of history also found expression in the poem Krôl-Duch (‘The Spirit King"), published partially in 1847 and in full in 1925. He also wrote a variety of plays. Most of them, such as Lilla Weneda (1840), Sen srebrny Salomei (1844; "The Silver Dream of Salomea"), and the anti-Romantic comedy Fantazy (1843), were published posthumously in 1866. His plays had a powerful influence on later dramatists and are still staged frequently in Poland.