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About the Author: Henryk Sienkiewicz

Henryk Adam Aleksander Pius Sienkiewicz (also known as "Litwos"; May 5, 1846–November 15, 1916) was a Polish journalist and Nobel Prize-winning novelist. He was one of the most popular Polish writers at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, and received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1905 for his "outstanding merits as an epic writer."

Born into an impoverished gentry family in the Podlasie village of Wola Okrzejska, in Russian-ruled Poland, Sienkiewicz wrote historical novels set during the Rzeczpospolita (Polish Republic, or Commonwealth). His works were noted for their negative portrayal of the Teutonic Order in The Teutonic Knights (Krzyżacy), which was remarkable as a significant portion of his readership lived under German rule. Many of his novels were first serialized in newspapers, and even today are still in print. In Poland, he is best known for his historical novels "With Fire and Sword", "The Deluge", and "Fire in the Steppe" (The Trilogy) set during the 17th-century Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, while internationally he is best known for Quo Vadis, set in Nero's Rome. Quo Vadis has been filmed several times, most notably the 1951 version.

Sienkiewicz was meticulous in attempting to recreate the authenticity of historical language. In his Trilogy, for instance, he had his characters use the Polish language as he imagined it was spoken in the seventeenth century (in reality it was far more similar to 19th-century Polish than he imagined). In The Teutonic Knights, which relates to the Battle of Grunwald in 1410, he even had his characters speak a variety of medieval Polish which he recreated in part from archaic expressions then still common among the highlanders of Podhale.

In 1881, Sienkiewicz married Maria Szetkiewicz (1854-1885). They had two children, Henryk Józef (1882-1959) and Jadwiga Maria (1883–1969).

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ISBN10: 1446065790 | ISBN13: 9781446065792

From the Translator's PREFACE.
OF the five stories in the present volume, three are of such character that remarks concerning them are not needed, - at least they are not needed here. Readers will prefer to be left to themselves, I think, and might resent comments on Yanko, or Mihas, or the old lighthouse keeper, unless indeed comments coming from other readers whom they meet in social intercourse, or whose impressions are given to the world through the public press.
In two of the stories, however, there are characters not familiar to Americans, and to these I beg to call attention in this place.
The first of these is the schoolmaster; the other is the officer or general, the man who directs the physical force of the country. The German schoolmaster among the Poles takes the place of the missionary of old times. In past centuries, the reason put forward by Germans for invading Slav lands was, that the people were pagans, that it was necessary to convert them and save their souls. As the conversion was made not by missionaries alone, who worked for the love of God simply, and received their pay in eternal salvation, but by force of arms and the wiles of diplomacy, the missionary was an assistant called in to make the conquest permanent by assimilating the Slavs to the Germans in religion.
This progress of Christianizing was slow, exceedingly bloody and painful, but thorough; and when it was finished the Slavs were exterminated in part, in part converted into the substratum of North German society, excepting only those of them, mainly princes and chiefs, who had succeeded in becoming associated with the conquerors. This historical process took place in the lands between Poznan and the Elbe. In Poznan (Posen) itself modern agencies are in use, because the problem has been modified by time; civilization is the watchword now, not religion. Hence Sienkiewicz presents to us the teachers who brought little Mihas to his death and Bartek the Victor to prison and financial ruin. In Steinmetz we have the higher intelligence with its wiles, - the general who gives the simple-minded Poles at Gravelotte their own music, and who in leading them against Austria urges them to conquer the "Niemtsi" (Germans), he being the quintessence of the German principle himself. The officers with gold-rimmed glasses, and the Landrath (p. 267), give a vivid idea of the realities which meet a Polish peasant, and of the tragedy of a people who accomplish the will of their enemy to the harm of their own flesh and blood.

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