Poczet królów polskich i bajka lafontenowska w moralizatorskim dziele osiemnastowiecznej literatury szwedzkiej

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Poland’s List of Monarchs and the La Fontaine Fable in a Moralizing Work of Swedish Eighteenth-Century Literature

The paper elucidates a work of Early Modern Swedish literature, entitled Polska Kongars Saga och Skald [Saga and Song of Polish Kings] and published anonymously at the royal printing house in Stockholm in 1736. This book is remarkable in several respects. In 51 chapters it portrays the rulers of Poland, from the legendary founder of the nation, Lech I, up to Stanisław Leszczyński, still in power in early 1736. The chapters are composed in a similar way, each of them containing an engraving of the monarch, a historical sketch in prose, and a concluding comment in verse. The paper starts off by discussing the attribution of Polska Kongars Saga och Skald, an issue on which Swedish and Polish scholars have held divergent views. The dispute is settled here by identifying the author as the Stockholm clergyman and occasional poet Johan Göstaf Hallman (1701–57). The main focus of the paper, however, is an investigation of the work’s verse comments. It is argued that the delineation of Poland’s sovereigns is used primarily as a stock of exempla, being explained in terms of virtues and vices in the poems closing the individual chapters. In particular, the chapters on the medieval rulers Bolesław V (Bolesław Wstydliwy) and Ludwik I (Ludwik Węgierski) are scrutinized. As moralizing comments on the historical events, these chapters employ verse fables by Jean de La Fontaine, rendered in Swedish. With his faithful verse translations of ”Le Loup & l’Agneau” and ”L’œil du Maître”, Hallman enriches the initial phase of La Fontaine reception in Sweden, which took place, it is shown, several decades after the earliest reception of Fables choisies, mises en vers in Polish. Of even greater significance, though, is the fact that the two French fables, both of them highly aestheticized according to the taste of Classicism, in the context of Poland’s history are given a clearly moral-didactic function by the Swedish clergyman. Hallman thereby inverts the most groundbreaking contribution of La Fontaine to European fable history.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Languages and Literature


  • virtue ethics, early modern Swedish literature, list of Polish monarchs, bajki La Fontaine’a, historia recepcji, etyka cnót, wczesnonowożytna literatura szwedzka, poczet królów polskich, reception history, fables of La Fontaine
Translated title of the contributionPoland’s List of Monarchs and the La Fontaine Fable in a Moralizing Work of Swedish Eighteenth-Century Literature
Original languagePolish
Pages (from-to)131-143
JournalPrace Polonistyczne
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Publication categoryResearch

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