Archive for the ‘Poland for the world’ Category

2016 is in Poland the Year of Henryk Sienkiewicz, the first Polish author to win the Nobel prize (1905). Let’s celebrate by reading or re-reading some of his books! Why not start with a book, published in 1896, translated into 30 languages, which gained a huge popularity around the world and served as a basis or inspiration for multiple film productions, including the Hollywood hit of 1951. Quo Vadis.

In Poland Henryk Sienkiewicz is best known for his Trilogy, set in the 17th century, when our country fought against Cossacks, Swedes and Turks. It’s a masterpiece of interweaving moving depictions of historic events with love stories and humour. Everybody here knows the stories, at least thanks to the films, which are unfailingly aired every Christmas :)

Abroad, Sienkiewicz’s best-known book was Quo Vadis: a Narrative of the Time of Nero. It tells the story of a Roman soldier, Marcus Vinicius, who falls in love with Ligia. What complicates the story is that Ligia is Christian and in a short time Nero starts persecuting Christians, accusing them falsely of setting Rome afire. Ligia will be one of those, who are “thrown to the lions”.

However, the most moving part of the novel is not what happens to Marcus and Ligia but the story of Chilon, an unprincipled cheat, who gains wealth by spying upon and denouncing Christians.

Pochodnie Nerona

Nero’s Torches by Henryk Siemiradzki, National Museum in Kraków

Quo Vadis is based on real events and it contrasts the corruptness and hypocrisy of Nero and his court, which will contribute to the fall of Rome, and the joy and strength of Christians. It’s one of the classical books that admit the existence and the power of evil but prove that good is invincible. And besides reminding us of these universal truths, Quo Vadis can turn our eyes to what is happening in the Middle East today. The atrocities haven’t come to an end. Christians are really being murdered. We could discuss if Quo Vadis has a happy end or not. For sure, it motivates to act, gives strength and shows that the gates of the underworld can never overpower the Church.

Quo Vadis 1951 – trailer

I haven’t seen the Hollywood film yet but here’s the trailer. The film seems worth watching. I think that the Polish production of 2001 was really good too.





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