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Gustaw Morcinek

Monument to Gustaw Morcinek in Skoczów
Born Augustyn Morcinek
August 24, 1891(1891-08-24)
Karviná, Austria-Hungary
Died December 20, 1963 (aged 72)
Kraków, Poland
Resting place Cieszyn
Occupation Writer and educator
Language Polish
Ethnicity Polish
Citizenship Austrian, Polish
Notable work(s) Wyrąbany chodnik

Gustaw Morcinek (born Augustyn Morcinek) (24 August 1891 in Karviná, Austria-Hungary - 20 December 1963 in Kraków, Poland) was a Polish writer, educator and later member of Sejm from 1952 to 1957. He is considered one of the most important writers from Silesia.[1]

Contents

Biography

In 1891, Morcinek was born in Karviná into a poor family, the youngest of four siblings. In 1892, his father Józef died and his mother was forced to provide for the family. Augustyn started work in the coal mine at the age of 16, which was quite late compared to the standard of those times. When he was 19, miners raised money for his education and he started attending a teachers' seminary in Biała Krakowska, from which he graduated in 1914. In 1914 he was drafted into the Austro-Hungarian Army and after 1918 served briefly in the Polish Army. In 1920, when Cieszyn Silesia was divided between Poland and Czechoslovakia, his hometown Karviná fell to Czechoslovakia. Morcinek was a pro-Polish activist and thus decided to stay in Poland. In the 1920s and 1930s he worked as a teacher in Skoczów.

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Interwar period

During the interwar period, Morcinek published many articles in various Silesian press. He wrote his most important books in the late 1920s and early 1930s becoming the only notable Silesian Polish-language prosaist of the interwar period. His works concentrate mostly on coal mining and Silesian themes. Morcinek shows miners' work and life in a realistic way and accentuates the class character of national oppression of Polish miners.[2] Morcinek spent the years 1936-1939 abroad, in Western Europe.

World War II

He returned to Poland shortly before the outbreak of World War II. Morcinek was arrested by the Gestapo on 6 September 1939. He was initially imprisoned with Władysław Dworaczek and the rest of people belonging to the Polish intellectuals from Silesia. Gustaw spent the whole war in the German concentration camps Skrochowitz,[3] Sachsenhausen and Dachau.[4] The supposed reason given for his arrest was his "anti-German activity" before the war and the fact that a dog in one of his novels ("Wyrąbany chodnik") was called "Bismarck". When he was in concentration camps, he was given a choice to sign a Volksliste but refused.[5]

After the war

Since his release until November 1946 Morcinek resided in France, Italy and Belgium and cooperated with Polish émigré press there.[6] He then returned to Silesia, Poland, and settled in Katowice. He was then actively supported by new authorities. Morcinek resumed his writing and continued to concentrate on Silesian issues but widen his scope to books for children and also epistolography. He received many recognitions and literary awards for his work and many of his books were translated and published abroad. Gustaw Morcinek died of leukemia on 20 December, 1963 in Kraków and was later buried at Communal Cemetery in Cieszyn.

Political activity

Morcinek was politically active from a young age. He was an active advocate of joining whole Cieszyn Silesia to Poland. During the interwar period when he was an anti-German activist, some critics accused him of spreading hatred. After the war, he was a supporter of PZPR (Polish United Workers' Party) and was a member of the Sejm (parliament) from Katowice electoral district (1952-1957).

Works

  • Noc listopadowa (1920)
  • Byli dwaj bracia (1930)
  • Serce za tamą (1929, 1936)
  • Wyrąbany chodnik (1931/1932)
  • Narodziny serca (1932)
  • Chleb na kamieniu (1932)
  • Gwiazdy w studni (1933)
  • Łysek z pokładu Idy (1933)
  • Śląsk (1933)
  • Inżynier Szeruda (1936)
  • Gołębie na dachu (1936)
  • Miasteczko nad rzeką (1938)
  • Maszerować (1939)
  • Listy spod morwy (1945)
  • Ludzie są dobrzy (1946)
  • Wyorane kamienie (1946)
  • Listy spod morwy (1946)
  • Listy z mojego Rzymu (1946)
  • Dziewczyna z Pól Elizejskich (1946)
  • Uśmiech na drodze (1948)
  • Pokład Joanny (1950)
  • Ondraszek (1953)
  • Jak górnik Bulandra diabła oszukał (1958)
  • Zabłąkane ptaki
  • Urodzaj ludzi
  • Przedziwne śląskie powiarki (1961)
  • Ziemia cieszyńska

Footnotes

  1. ^ Hierowski 1947, 97.
  2. ^ Hierowski 1947, 81.
  3. ^ Village of Skrochovice is a part of the Brumovice municipality near Opava, Silesia, Czech Republic. During the war it was a part of Germany.
  4. ^ Hierowski 1947, 193.
  5. ^ A Volksliste was a document introduced by the Nazi authorities; a non-German citizen declared that he had some German ancestry by signing it. Refusal to sign this document could lead to deportation to a concentration camp. Non-German citizens from territories belonging to Nazi Germany were forced to sign it.
  6. ^ Hierowski 1947, 79-80.

References

  • Heska-Kwaśniewicz, Krystyna (1993). "Kolorowy rytm życia". Studia o prozie Gustawa Morcinka. Kraków: Universitas. ISBN 8370521908.  
  • Heska-Kwaśniewicz, Krystyna (1988). "Pisarski zakon" : biografia literacka Gustawa Morcinka. Opole: Instytut Śląski. OCLC 20057117.  

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