Prus, Boleslaw

Prus, Bolesław

(bôlĕsläf` pro͞os), 1845?–1912, Polish writer, whose original name was Alexander Głowacki. Prus is considered a founder of the modern Polish novel. His articles and short stories exposed the prejudice and class pride in Poland and urged the creation of a sober, cooperative, and industrious society. Prus's realistic novels include The Outpost (1886, tr. 1921), about the struggle of a Polish peasant to hold his lands, The Emancipated Women (4 vol., 1894), and The Pharaoh (1897, tr. 1902). The Doll (1890, tr. 1972), Prus's finest work, presents a broad picture of middle-class life in Warsaw.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Prus, Bolesław


(pen name of Aleksander Głowacki). Born Aug. 20, 1847, in Hrubieszów, near Lublin; died May 19, 1912, in Warsaw. Polish writer.

The son of an impoverished nobleman, Prus took part in the Polish Uprising of 1863–64, was wounded, and spent several months in prison. From 1866 to 1868 he was enrolled in the physics and mathematics department at the Main School (Szkoła Główna) in Warsaw. Prus’ works began to appear in print in 1872. He contributed to various Warsaw newspapers from 1874 to 1903; in 1882–83 he edited the magazine Nowiny, where he published publicistic articles. As a democrat Prus was influenced by Warsaw positivism, the young Polish bourgeoisie’s sociopolitical program. His literary criticism strengthened the realistic conception of art in Polish criticism. Prus had a high opinion of Russian literature, especially the works of L. N. Tolstoy.

Prus’ first short stories were purely humorous, but as early as the mid-1870’s he was raising major social issues in such stories as “The Palace and the Hovel.” In the 1880’s he wrote many short stories on social themes, of which the best known are “Michałko” (1880), “Anielka” (1880), and “Antek” (1881). Prus became famous for his short stories about children (“An Orphan’s Lot,” 1876). Among his most popular works were the novellas The Return Wave (1880) and The Outpost (1885; Russian translation, 1887).

In The Doll (1887–89), Prus created a new kind of social and psychological novel (a film based on the novel was made in 1968). A panorama of life in Warsaw and the provinces is presented in the novel The Emancipationists (1891–93; Russian translation, 1900). Prus is also noted for his historical novel The Pharaoh (1895–96; Russian translation, 1897), from which a film was made in 1966. The novel The Children (1908; Russian translation, 1909) deals with the Revolution of 1905–07, whose significance Prus did not grasp. The unfinished novel Changes (1911), in which one of the main characters is a Russian socialist student, attests to Prus’ interest in the progressive views of his time. His works have been translated into many European languages.


Pisma, vols. 1–29. Warsaw, 1948–52.
Kroniki, vols. 1–20. Warsaw, 1953–70.
Listy. Warsaw, 1959.
In Russian translation:
Polnoe sobr. soch, vols. 1–5. Kiev-Kharkov, 1899–1900.


Tsybenko, E. Z. “Bolesław Prus.” In Istoriia pol’skoi literatury, vol. 1. Moscow, 1968.
Verbyts’kyi, P. P. B. Prus: Tvorchist’. Kharkov, 1967.
Szweykowski, Z. Twórczość Bolesław a Prusa, 2nd ed. Warsaw, 1972.
Kulczycka-Saloni, J. Bolesław Prus, 3rd ed. Warsaw, 1967.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.