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Władysław Orkan

Władysław Orkan

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Władysław Orkan

(1875–1930) born Franciszek Ksawery Smaciarz (Szmaciarz) changed his surname to Smreczyński – a poet, playwright, and prose writer. He hailed from a peasant family in Poręba Wielka. He had to carve his own path in literature. Julian Krzyżanowski wrote that he was a bard of a land of clods of earth and eternal misery. He came to Krakow in 1888 to begin studies at the St. Jacek Gymasium. The poet’s mother, Katarzyna née Smreczak, defied her husband in supporting her son’s aspirations to gain an education. Her heroism was described by Ignacy Sewer Maciejowski in his novel Mother. Maciejowski was Orkan’s first promoter and guide in the world of literature. Orkan took his first steps in Życie magazine, edited by Maciejowski. In his considerable oeuvre, Orkan addressed topics close to himself and the society he came from. He gained the most fame from the naturalistic novel The Debt Collectors, and the novel In Roztoki. He died of a heart attack in Krakow, and was buried in the old cemetery in Zakopane.

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