In a remarkable discovery, Lublin University Library (KUL) holds a copy of Part II of “Dziady” with annotations by the renowned Polish poet Adam Mickiewicz. These annotations were meticulously added by Mickiewicz himself. The story behind this find is as intriguing as the literary treasure it contains.
The Archive of the Philomaths
For over 50 years, KUL has safeguarded the Archive of the Philomaths, a collection of poems, documents from society gatherings, correspondence among its members, and autographs. Among the treasures is the handwritten “Romantyczność” by Adam Mickiewicz and copies of his works, including Part II of “Dziady,” famously beginning with the line “Ciemno wszędzie, głucho wszędzie, co to będzie, co to będzie?”
Mickiewicz’s Personal Touch
The significance lies in the fact that the copy was transcribed by Jan Czeczot, a friend of Mickiewicz, and features corrections made by Mickiewicz himself. Mickiewicz added a preamble explaining the concept of “Dziady” and an English quote from Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” which he translated into Polish.
A Gift with a Purpose
Historians believe that Czeczot’s copy of “Dziady” Part II was created to convince university authorities to transfer Mickiewicz from Kaunas to Vilnius, where his friends resided. Mickiewicz wanted to free himself from his teaching duties and return to Vilnius. The gift was intended for Professor Leon Borowski, a lecturer at Vilnius University.
The Philomaths and Their Legacy
The Philomaths, a secret society of students and graduates from Vilnius University, existed from 1817 to 1823. They focused on self-education, mutual support, literary creation, moral values, and patriotism. A government investigation led to their dissolution in 1823.
A Journey from Vilnius to Lublin
The Philomaths’ Archive was hidden by Onufry Pietraszkiewicz, the society’s archivist. Some materials were lost during and after World War II. Later, the collections were transported to Poland, including KUL, in secret between 1960 and 1980, with the 1964 transport proving especially challenging.