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Władysław Orkan
Władysław Orkan
Born Franciszek Ksawery Smaciarz
(1875-11-27)November 27, 1875
Poręba Wielka, Austria-Hungary
Died May 14, 1930(1930-05-14) (aged 54)
Kraków, Poland
Place of burial Zakopane
Nationality Polish
Occupation Writer

Władysław Orkan (27 November 1875 - 14 May 1930) (actually born as Franciszek Ksawery Smaciarz, changed surname to Smreczyński, but primarily known under his pen name, Orkan) was a Polish writer from the Young Poland period. He is known as one of the greatest Polish writers from Podhale region and Górale folk; most famous of his works portray the common people from that region.


Born in Poręba Wielka, Limanowa County as Franciszek Ksawery Smaciarz, he attended the elementary school in Szczyrzyc. He started publishing while in the fourth grade; he also joined many extracurricular clubs and organization, including pro-Polish independence ones. Due to his involvement in such activities, his grades suffered, and he never passed the matura exam. He returned to Poręba village, and continued writing. He debuted in 1896 with a publication of a poem, patriotic poem Nad grobem matki and several satirical verses. In 1898 he published his first work, collection of short stories, Nowele; that year he also changed his surname in to Smreczyński. He published more works soon thereafter: another collection short stories Nad urwiskiem in 1900, a novel Komornicy (1900), drama Postronni (1903), a verse volume Z tej smutnej ziemi (1903), novel W roztokach (1908) and others.


In early 1900s he started construction of a new house; the same building would later become the Biographical Museum of Władysław Orkan (Muzeum Biograficzne Władysława Orkana or Orkanówka for short). At that time he also married Maria Zwierzyńska, they would have one child, Zofia. Maria would die three years after giving childbirth, Władysław Orkan, always troubled with finances, would ask his sister to raise his daughter. He would later marry Bronisława Folejewska. During those years he also travelled to Italy, Switzerland and Germany.

During the First World War he joined the Polish Legions (4th Regiment). For most of his life he stayed in Poręba village. In addition to writing, he was also an activist for the region, cofounder and member of Podhale Association (Tatras Highlanders Union, 1918) and supporter of peasants’ movement. After the war, he continued to write; particularly notable are lyrical poems constituting a cycle Pochwała życia, the drama Widma (1917–1927), the novel Czantoria (1928–1929) and his articles and essays Listy ze wsi (1925–1927). He died in Kraków; shortly before he could collect the 1930 City of Warsaw’s Award for Literature. He is buried at the Rakowicki Cemetery, but next year he was exhumed and moved to a Remembrance Cemetery at Pęksowy Brzyzk, Zakopane.

After his death, many regional organisations were set up under his name, to commemorate his contribution to the culture and prestige of the Podhale region.


One of the most common image in his works was the poor Polish village. However his works contain other images as well, for example descriptions of mountain countryside and nature, and humorous elements. His early works were inspired by Stanisław Witkiewicz.


  • Nad grobem Matki. Dumania. Kraków 1896
  • Z tej smutnej ziemi. Lwów 1903
  • Z martwej roztoki. Kraków 1912
  • Pieśni czasu. Piotrków 1915


  • Skapany świat. Dramat w czterech aktach z epilogiem. Lwów 1903
  • Ofiara. Fragment w trzech aktach z r.1846. Kraków 1905
  • Wina i kara. Tragedia. Kraków 1905
  • Franek Rakoczy. Epilog w trzech aktach. Lwów 1908

Short stories[]

  • Nowele. Warszawa 1898
  • Nad urwiskiem. Szkice i obrazki. Lwów 1900
  • Herkules nowożytny i inne wesołe rzeczy. Kraków 1905
  • Miłość pasterska. Nowele. Lwów 1908
  • Wesele Prometeusza. Warszawa 1921


  • Komornicy. Lwów 1900
  • W roztokach (tom I i II). Lwów 1903
  • Pomór. Kraków 1910
  • Drzewiej. Kraków 1912
  • Kostka Napierski. Warszawa 1925


  • Drogą Czwartaków. Od Ostrowca na Litwę. Kraków 1916
  • Listy ze wsi (tom I i II). Warszawa 1925-1927
  • Warta. Studia, listy, szkice. Lwów 1926
  • Wskazania. Warszawa 1930


  • Czantoria (i inne pisma społeczne). Warszawa 1936

Further reading[]

  • Stanisław Pigoń, Władysław Orkan. Twórca i dzieło, Kraków 1958
  • Józef Dużyk, Władysław Orkan, Kraków 1975
  • Julian Krzyżanowski, Pieśniarz krainy kęp i wiecznej nędzy. Rzecz o Władysławie Orkanie, Zakopane 1927
  • Bolesław Faron, Władysław Orkan, Kraków 2004, in Literatura okresu Młodej Polski. ‘Obraz Literatury Polskiej XIX i XX wieku’. S. V. vol. 3. Cracow: Wydawnictwo Literackie. pp. 83-13
  • Włodarczyk, J. 2003. Orkan Władysław. In: Słownik Pisarzy Polskich. Ed. A. Latusek. Cracow: Wydawnictwo Zielona Sowa. p. 372.
  • Puchalska, M. 1985. Orkan Władysław. In: Literatura polska. Przewodnik encyklopedyczny. Eds. J. Krzyżanowski and Cz. Hernas. Warszawa: Państwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe. vol. 2. pp. 110–111.
  • Wiktor Weintraub, Review of Pigon's book, American Slavic and East European Review, Vol. 17, No. 4 (Dec., 1958), pp. 576–578, JSTOR

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