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Born June 6, 1841, in Miklowszczyzna, near Grodno; died May 18, 1910, in Grodno. Polish writer.
The daughter of a wealthy landowner, Orzeszkowa studied in a private school in Warsaw from 1852 to 1857. She began publishing in 1866. Her early novels and novellas, Mr. Graba (1869) and Marta (1873), are devoted to women’s struggle for dignity and emancipation. In the novels Eli Makower (1874–75) and The Brochwicz Family (1876) she portrays the dissolution of the patriarchal way of life among the gentry and the rise of the bourgeoisie, a persistent theme in her works. Until the 1880’s Orzeszkowa wrote in the so-called tendentious style. Among her most popular works were the novel Meir Ezofowicz (1878), the short-story collection From Different Spheres (vols. 1–3, 1879–82), and the novellas about the life of Byelorussian peasants—Lower Strata (1883), Dziurdziowie (1885), and The Boor (1888). Her mature style is best represented by the novel Along the Neman (1887), in which the degenerate gentry is contrasted with the hardworking tillers of the soil, faithful to the patriotic traditions of the Polish Uprising of 1863. Orzeszkowa’s last major works are the novel The Argonauts (1889) and the short-story collection Gloria Victis (1910). Her prose constitutes one of the crowning achievements of 19th-century Polish realism.
WORKSListy zebrane, vols. 1–7. Warsaw, 1954–71.
In Russian translation:
Poln. sobr. soch., vols. 1–8. Kiev-St. Petersburg-Kharkov, 1902–10.
Soch., vols. 1–5. Moscow, 1953–54.
REFERENCESTsybenko, E. Z. “Eliza Ozheshko.” In Istoriia pol’skoi literatury, vol. 1. Moscow, 1968.
Jankowski, E. Eliza Orzeszkowa, 2nd ed., Warsaw, 1966. (Bibliography pp. 634–43).
żmigrodzka, M. “Eliza Orzeszkowa.” In Obraz literatury polskiej XIX i XX wieku, series 4, vol. 2. Warsaw, 1966. Pages 7–81.
I. K. GORSKII