Aleksander Fredro


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Fredro, Aleksander

 

Born June 20, 1793, in Suchorów, Galicia; died July 15, 1876, in L’vov. Polish playwright.

The son of a landowner, Fredro was educated at home. He began publishing his poetry, including narrative poems, in 1816. The first production of one of his comedies took place in 1817. He gained fame through his satirical play Pan Geldhab (1818, staged 1821).

Drawing on the traditions of the Enlightenment and on contemporary theatrical practice, Fredro enriched comedy with social content derived from everyday life and made the language of the stage more closely resemble ordinary speech. He raised important contemporary issues in, for example, Other People’s Land (1822, staged 1824) and depicted social mores in Husband and Wife (staged 1822, published 1823). A number of his comedies—including The New Don Quixote, or One Hundred Madnesses (1822, staged 1824) and Ladies and Hussars (1825, published 1826)—exhibit elements of the farcical and grotesque. He also wrote a number of one-act plays. The plays Fredro wrote in the 1830’s are distinguished by realism and psychological insight. These qualities are exemplified in such works as Maidens’ Vows (1827–32, published 1834), Life Annuity (1835, published 1845), Pan Jowialski (1832, published 1835), Auntie (1834, published 1858), and The Revenge (staged 1834, published 1845).

Although Fredro’s comedies were extremely popular with audiences, they received unjustifiably harsh and one-sided reviews from the democratic critics of the 1830’s and 1840’s, especially S. Goszczyñski. The critics condemned Fredro because his works did not conform to the tenets of literary romanticism or to the theories espoused by some of the leaders of the Polish liberation movement. As a result of the criticism, Fredro abandoned literary pursuits. He returned to writing in 1854 but did not publish his new works and did not allow them to be produced. His memoirs, Three by Three, were written before 1848 but were not published until 1880.

Fredro’s comedies played an important role in the development of the Polish theater. His plays are still produced in Poland and abroad.

WORKS

Pisma wszystkie, vols. 1–13. Warsaw, 1955–69.
In Russian translation:
Komedii. [Introductory article by K. N. Derzhavin.] Moscow, 1956.

REFERENCES

Stakheev, B. F. “A. Fredro.” In Istoriia pol’skoi literatury, vol. 1. Moscow, 1968.
Pigoñ, S. Spusścizna literacka A. Fredry. Warsaw, 1954.
Pigoñ, S. Wpracowni A. Fredry. Warsaw, 1956.
Wyka, K. A. Fredro. Warsaw, 1968.

B. F. STAKHEEV