Antoni Lange (1861–1929) was a poet, novelist, translator, literary critic and journalist. The spectrum of his interests and achievements extends well beyond the boundaries of a single literary period. He was a precursor of the Young Poland movement in poetry, but also a science fiction pioneer, a left-wing social theorist and a promoter of oriental studies. He translated only two Shakespeare plays – As You Like It (Jak wam się podoba) and Twelfth Night (Noc Trzech Króli) – which appeared in 1896 in the ten-volume edition of Dzieła Williama Szekspira (William Shakespeare’s Works) edited by Henryk Biegeleisen. These translations represent a small fragment of the uneven but wonderfully rich and versatile literary legacy of Lange.
Antoni Lange’s translations belong to the tradition of retranslation and were distinctive, if uneven in quality, making an attempt to break with the aesthetics of the canonical translations, particularly with respect to the Elizabethan wordplay. Unlike earlier translators, Lange exhibited more flexibility in exploiting the resources of the Polish lexicon, although he avoided radical strategies that go too far in bringing the text up to date. In dialogues between lovers he found creative solutions when translating wordplay and rhetorical battles, but he was more severely challenged by the humour arising from cultural references, which he translated literally, leaving the task of explication to editors. He freely translated the songs and love poems, seeking to maintain a lightness in prosody and style.
In the few assessments of Lange’s versions of Shakespeare emphasis is placed upon his agility in handling rhetorical tropes and wordplay, and his sensitivity towards the music of the verse and other features that depend upon the ear, albeit at the expense of minor departures from the sense of the original. On the other hand, some of his work is strikingly careless, most likely the result of the speed at which it was carried out.
The translations in the Lwów edition were not republished. They were occasionally used by theatres, typically alongside other translations.
Bibliography of translations
[William Shakespeare], Jak wam się podoba, tłum. Antoni Lange [w:] Henryk Biegeleisen (red.),Dzieła Williama Szekspira, T. 8, Komedye, Księgarnia Polska, Lwów 1896, s. 3–84.
[William Shakespeare], Noc Trzech Króli, tłum. Antoni Lange [w:] Henryk Biegeleisen (red.), Dzieła Williama Szekspira, T. 8, Komedye, Księgarnia Polska, Lwów 1896, s. 85–161.