Kulczycki Book Prize in Polish Studies

2009 Citation Recipient

Roman Koropeckyj

The Kulczycki Book Prize in Polish Studies (formerly the Orbis Book Prize), established in 1996 and sponsored by the Kulczycki family, former owners of the Orbis Books Ltd. of London, England, is awarded annually for the best book in any discipline, on any aspect of Polish affairs, published in the previous calendar year.

Co-Winner: Roman Koropeckyj
Title: Adam Mickiewicz: The LIfe of a Romantic (Cornell University Press)

A poet so deeply identified with romantic nationalism is not easy to introduce to the English-speaking world. Indeed, scholars in Polish Studies have long known that their students and colleagues are unlikely to be able to appreciate the greatness of Mickiewicz’s art or the significance of his life. That is no longer the case. Roman Koropeckyj’s Adam Mickiewicz: The Life of a Romantic is not just the first major biography of the great Polish poet in English, though that would be achievement enough. It is truly a monumental feat for any scholar. Koropeckyj’s biography presents one of Polish history’s most remarkable figures as he has never been seen in English. It is a portrait, indeed, which is as valuable as any we have in any language. Koropeckyj draws on a thorough knowledge of Mickiewicz’s life and times, following the poet from Lithuania to Russia to Paris and, finally, to death in Istanbul. With equal dexterity, he shows us the student revolutionary, the celebrated exile, the acclaimed lecturer, the devoted mystic, the fervent journalist, and the military adventurer. He weaves together cogent analyses of Mickiewicz’s greatest works with astute portraits of the women and men in Mickiewicz’s life, and a sober understanding of the ideas both familiar and bizarre that moved the bard. In Adam Mickiewicz: The Life of a Romantic, Roman Koropeckyj has succeeded in making Adam Mickiewicz accessible and, indeed, necessary to the scholarship of the twenty-first century. Its lucidity, exemplary research, and remarkable even-handedness towards its legend-encrusted subject mark it as a major contribution not just to anglophone scholars of European Romanticism, but to all students of Mickiewicz in whatever language or culture.

Co-Winner: Tomasz Inglot