Maria Wisława Anna Szymborska-Włodek (Szymborska), Nobel Prize in Literature 1996
|Birthplace:||Prowent, Kórnik, Kórnik / Poznań, Wielkopolskie, Poland|
|Death:||Died in Kraków, Małopolskie, Poland|
|Place of Burial:||Kraków, Małopolskie, Poland|
|Occupation:||Poet, essayist, translator.|
|Managed by:||Andrzej Hennel|
Historical records matching Maria Wisława Anna Szymborska-Włodek, Nobel Prize in Literature 1996
About Maria Wisława Anna Szymborska-Włodek, Nobel Prize in Literature 1996
Wisława Szymborska (born July 2, 1923, in Prowent, now part of Kórnik, Poland) is a Polish poet, essayist and translator. Many of her poems feature war and terrorism. In Poland, her books reach sales rivaling prominent prose authors — although she once remarked in a poem entitled "Some like poetry" [Niektórzy lubią poezję] that no more than two out of a thousand people care for the art. Szymborska was awarded the 1996 Nobel Prize in Literature "for poetry that with ironic precision allows the historical and biological context to come to light in fragments of human reality".
Szymborska frequently employs literary devices such as irony, paradox, contradiction, and understatement, to illuminate philosophical themes and obsessions. Szymborska's compact poems often conjure large existential puzzles, touching on issues of ethical import, and reflecting on the condition of people both as individuals and as members of human society. Szymborska's style is succinct and marked by introspection and wit.
Szymborska's reputation rests on a relatively small body of work: she has not published more than 250 poems to date. She is often described as modest to the point of shyness. She has long been cherished by Polish literary contemporaries (including Czesław Miłosz) and her poetry has been set to music by Zbigniew Preisner. Szymborska became better known internationally after she was awarded the 1996 Nobel Prize. Szymborska's work has been translated into many European languages, as well as into Arabic, Hebrew, Japanese and Chinese.
Wisława Szymborska was born on 2nd July 1923 as a daughter of Wincenty Szymborski and Anna nee' Rottermund. Her family moved to Kraków in 1931 where she has lived and worked ever since.
When World War II broke out in 1939, she continued her education in underground lessons. From 1943, she worked as a railroad employee and managed to avoid being deported to Germany as a forced labourer. It was during this time that her career as an artist began with illustrations for an English-language textbook. She also began writing stories and occasional poems.
Beginning in 1945, Szymborska took up studies of Polish language and literature before switching to sociology at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków. There she soon became involved in the local writing scene, and met and was influenced by Czesław Miłosz. In March 1945, she published her first poem Szukam słowa ("I seek the word") in the daily paper Dziennik Polski; her poems continued to be published in various newspapers and periodicals for a number of years. In 1948 she quit her studies without a degree, due to her poor financial circumstances; the same year, she married poet Adam Włodek, whom she divorced in 1954. At that time, she was working as a secretary for an educational biweekly magazine as well as an illustrator.
During Stalinism in Poland in 1953 she participated in the defamation of Catholic priests from Kraków who were groundlessly condemned by the ruling Communists to death. Due to Stalin's death a month later the sentence was not, however, enforced.
Her first book was to be published in 1949, but did not pass censorship as it "did not meet socialist requirements." Like many other intellectuals in post-war Poland, however, Szymborska remained loyal to the PRL official ideology early in her career, signing political petitions and praising Joseph Stalin, Vladimir Lenin and the realities of socialism. This attitude is seen in her debut collection Dlatego żyjemy ("That is what we are living for"), containing the poems Lenin and Młodzieży budującej Nową Hutę ("For the Youth that Builds Nowa Huta"), about the construction of a Stalinist industrial town near Kraków. She also became a member of the ruling Polish United Workers' Party.
Like many Polish intellectuals initially close to the official party line, Szymborska gradually grew estranged from socialist ideology and renounced her earlier political work. Although she did not officially leave the party until 1966, she began to establish contacts with dissidents. As early as 1957, she befriended Jerzy Giedroyc, the editor of the influential Paris-based emigré journal Kultura, to which she also contributed. In 1964 she opposed a Communist backed protest to The Times against independent intellectuals, demanding freedom of speech.
In 1953, she joined the staff of the literary review magazine Życie Literackie ("Literary Life"), where she continued to work until 1981 and from 1968 ran her own book review column entitled Lektury Nadobowiązkowe ("Non-compulsory Reading"). Many of her essays from this period were later published in book form. From 1981 to 1983, Szymborska was an editor of the Kraków-based monthly Pismo. During the 1980s, she intensified her oppositional activities, contributing to the samizdat periodical Arka under the pseudonym "Stańczykówna", as well as to Kultura in Paris.
Szymborska has also translated French literature into Polish, in particular Baroque poetry and the works of Agrippa d'Aubigné.
In Germany, Szymborska is often associated with her translator Karl Dedecius, who did much to popularize her works there.