Apollo Nałęcz Korzeniowski

Biographical Outline

Apollo Nałęcz Korzeniowski (1820–1869), the father of Józef Teodor Konrad (Joseph Conrad), was born on his family’s estate in Ukraine and died in Kraków. He was a poet, playwright, translator and independence activist.

In 1865 he published his only Shakespeare translation: A Comedy of Errors (Komedia obłędów, more commonly known in Polish as Komedia omyłek), completed in exile in Chernihov, Ukraine. He probably also translated several other plays which remained in manuscript. For Korzeniowski, translation work was a means of escaping from his painful personal circumstances. It formed part of the broad current of translation and reception in the culture of Żytomierz (now: Zhytomyr), to which several outstanding writers contributed in different ways, three of whom were translators, and another was Józef Ignacy Kraszewski, the editor of the first complete edition of Shakespeare’s plays in Polish.


Apollo Korzeniowski’s translation was an initial translation intended to introduce Shakespeare to the Polish literary culture. These translations often experimented with prosody, and Korzeniowski was no exception. He worked with a rhymed, 13-syllable line when translating blank verse, and used the same rhyming approach for the prose, which he set out continuously on the page. His choice of the comedies would certainly have been dictated by his experience of the stage. He believed the play would be a theatrical success, and expectations of financial success may also have played a role. Korzeniowski translated freely, omitting or replacing obscure cultural references and wordplay. His Polish style is fluent and robust, producing a rapid-fire comic text reminiscent of the vivacious romantic comedy of Aleksander Fredro.


Published in the magazine Kłosy, Apollo Korzeniowski’s translation was not the subject of any reviews. It did not appear in book form nor on the stage. The few mentions in literary journals are generally favourable. There has been no broader analysis that might unpick Korzeniowski’s theatrical intentions.

Bibliography of translations

William Shakespeare, Komedia obłędów [Komedia omyłek], tłum. Apollo Nałęcz K*** [Apollo Nałęcz Korzeniowski], „Kłosy” 1866, nr 36 s. 426–429; nr 37 s. 438–441; nr 38 s. 453–455; nr 39 s. 465–467; nr 40 s. 474–475; nr 41 s. 485–487.