Adam Pajgert

Biographical Outline

Adam Pajgert (1829–1872) was a poet and translator. He wrote on the family estate in Sidorów, Podole (Podolia, now a region in Ukraine). He published one Shakespeare play in translation: Julius Caesar (Juliusz Cezar). For a long time it was held to be the best Polish version of the play and was republished several times. According to contemporary accounts, the 30-year-old Pajgert intended to translate all of Shakespeare’s works. He reconsidered this plan on account of the high quality of Józef Paszkowski’s translations, after the publication of which he concentrated on other translation projects and original work.


Pajgert was fascinated by Shakespeare’s work, particularly the history plays, and regretted the absence of a counterpart to historical drama in the Polish literary tradition. He rendered iambic pentameter into unrhymed 11-syllable lines, respecting the divisions into verse and prose. His translations exhibit metrical and semantic precision. He took care to diversify the modes of speech of different characters, exploiting his good knowledge of the conventions of classical rhetoric. In places where the meaning was complex or obscure he provided explanatory notes.


Initially the translation met with sharp criticism, in particular with respect to Pajgert’s metre. Paradoxically, Pajgert’s work appears in hindsight to be a model example of Polish translation norms in the period. In the following decades the play was valued very highly. Critics celebrated its fluency and rigour. Pajgert’s work, alongside the translations in Józef Ignacy Kraszewski’s collected Shakespeare (1875–1877), was the most frequently republished 19th-century version of Shakespeare. It was staged several times, most recently in 1928.

Bibliography of translations

[William Shakespeare], Juljusz Cezar: tragedja w pięciu aktach W. Szekspira, tłum. Adam Pajgert, Karol Wild, Lwów 1859.

[William Shakespeare], W. Szekspira Juljusz Cezar, tłum. Adam Pajgert, wstępem i uwagami zaopatrzył Franciszek Próchnicki, Towarzystwo Nauczycieli Szkół Wyższych, Lwów 1891 [seria Biblioteka dla Młodzieży].

[William Shakespeare], Juliusz Cezar: tragedya w pięciu aktach, tłum. Adam Pajgert, Wilhelm Zukerkandl, Złoczów 1895 [Biblioteka Powszechna nr 146–147).

William Shakespeare, Juliusz Cezar, tłum. Adam Pajgert [w:] Dzieła dramatyczne w dwunastu tomach, T. 9, życiorys Shakespeare’a i przedm. do poszczególnych utworów oprac. Roman Dyboski, studium Shakespeare w Polsce napisał Ludwik Bernacki, wyboru przekładów dokonał Stanisław Krzemiński, Gebethner i Spółka, Warszawa 1912.

William Shakespare, Juliusz Cezar. Tragedia w 5 aktach, tłum. Adam Pajgert, Lwów 1913 [Skarbnica Polska, Seria 1, nr 18]

William Shakespeare, Juliusz Cezar: tragedya w 5 aktach, tłum. Adam Pajgert, Gebethner i Wolff, Warszawa 1918, wyd. 2, 1926 [Biblioteczka Uniwersytetów Ludowych, nr 190].