Stanisław Rossowski (1861–1940) was a poet, prose-writer, dramatist, journalist and teacher. He was one of the most well-known and respected figures in the cultural milieu of Lwów. He only translated three Shakespeare plays, all of them late pieces that combined comic and tragic elements: A Winter’s Tale (Opowieść zimowa, 1895), Cymbeline (Cymbelin, 1897) and Troilus and Cressida (Troilus i Kresyda, 1897).
This translation work was only a small part of Rossowski’s literary output at the age of thirty. With the passage of time, his literary talent was blunted by various journalistic obligations.
Rossowski’s translations are retranslations, commissioned for the Lwów edition of Shakespeare overseen by Henryk Biegeleisen (1895–1897). For the first time in the history of Shakespeare’s reception in Polish, this publication was made up of a selection of 19th-century translations by different hands, completed by new versions entrusted to promising writers.
In metrical terms, Rossowski observed what was by then an established Polish translation norm with respect to prosody. He respected the division into prose and verse, rendering the English blank verse in unrhymed, 11-syllable lines. He took care to make his translations accessible, fluent and concise, consistently updating the diction and the syntax while avoiding manifest colloquialisms and neologisms. In difficult places he sought for dynamic equivalents, freely making use of Polish turns of phrase. In general Rossowski aimed to update the canonical translations by modernising the language, without significantly disrupting the meaning through semantic shifts.
Rossowski’s translations were not reviewed and only became the subject of analysis in Władysław Tarnawski’s cursory critical foray in 1914. This slight interest was doubtless the result of the choice of plays, which plugged gaps in the canon but failed to excite the interest of critics or theatres. The translations have not been republished – with the exception of a single edition published as part of the publishing series Biblioteka Mrówki (“The Ant Library”) at almost the same time as the Biegeleisen edition. The plays have not been staged.
Bibliography of translations
[William Shakespeare], Opowieść zimowa, tłum. Stanisław Rossowski [w:] Henryk Biegeleisen (red.), Dzieła Williama Szekspira, T. 5, Dramaty fantastyczne, wyd. 2, Księgarnia Polska, Lwów 1895, s. 69–165.
[William Shakespeare], Cymbelin, tłum. Stanisław Rossowski [w:] Henryk Biegeleisen (red.), Dzieła Williama Szekspira , T. 9, Komedye, wyd. 2, Księgarnia Polska, Lwów 1897, s. 205–316.
[William Shakespeare], Troilus i Kresyda, tłum. Stanisław Rossowski [w:] Henryk Biegeleisen (red.), Dzieła Williama Szekspira , T. 9, Komedye, wyd. 2, Księgarnia Polska, Lwów 1897, s. 97–203.
W. Szekspir [William Shakespeare], Cymbelin. Komedya w pięciu aktach, tłum. Stanisław Rossowski, Nakładem Księgarni Polskiej, Lwów 1897 [Biblioteka Mrówki, t. 265–266].
W. Szekspir [William Shakespeare], Troilus i Kresyda, tłum. Stanisław Rossowski, Nakładem Księgarni Polskiej, Lwów 1897 [Biblioteka Mrówki, t. 269–270].