On Translating “Pan Tadeusz”
Thursday, February 7, 2019
The Kosciuszko Foundation 15 East 65th Street, New York, NY 10065
In a panoramic view of early 19th century Polish society, Pan Tadeusz interlaces various narrative threads, from the homecoming of the eponymous Pan Tadeusz from his studies in the city, to a feud between local families over ownership of a ruined castle, to clandestine preparations for Polish participation in Napoleon’s anticipated invasion of Russia, to the mystery of Father Robak (“Worm”), a monk whose involvement in all the stories seems to tie them together.
The national epic of Poland and of the larger former Lithuanian region, Pan Tadeusz has become ingrained in the Polish literary consciousness. Bill Johnston’s translation of this seminal text allows English-language readers to experience the richness, humor, and narrative energy of the original.
The Kosciuszko Foundation is pleased to host an evening with Prof. Bill Johnston, acclaimed translator of literature from Polish to English, winner of 2012 PEN Translation Prize, Three Percent’s Best Translated Book Award, and two-time winner of the Polish Government’s Found in Translation Award. Prof. Johnston will present his translation of Adam Mickiewicz’s Pan Tadeusz, discussing the historical and cultural significance of the book and challenges in translating the poem. He will also address questions of the nature of the work and its relevance for English-language readers in the 21st century.