Jan Kochanowski's Psałterz Dawidów in the context of the European tradition
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This thesis examines Jan Kochanowski's vernacular verse translation of the Psalms, Psalterz Dawidow (Krakow, 1579), in terms both of its formal composition and its content, and illustrates the poet's debt to western Europe. It will be seen that his innovations in versification owe much to developments in the vernacular literatures of Italy and France, while the content of Psalterz Dawidow shows evidence of Kochanowski's use of neo-Latin works. Following the methodology employed by scholars in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the author of this thesis has reexamined the question of Kochanowski's use of sources. A comparison between Kochanowski's text and vernacular and Latin translations (prose and verse) and commentaries published in or before 1579 broadly confirms the findings of earlier studies while at the same time identifying a new source of Psalterz Dawidow, John Calvin's commentary on the Psalms (In librum Psalmorum, Iohannis Calvini commentarius (Geneva, 1557)). Furthermore, this thesis attempts to challenge the view expressed in previous studies that Kochanowski's use of Protestant sources, and the use of his translation by Protestants, is evidence that the poet himself had Protestant sympathies. Having established that the character of the Reformation and Counter Reformation in Poland was markedly different from that in the rest of Europe, that Calvinism was not suppressed and, indeed, won the support of the majority of the szlachta, the author of this thesis suggests that Kochanowski's choice of Protestant sources was motivated by the merits of the individual works rather than, necessarily, by any firmly held religious convictions. Indeed, an analysis of his oeuvre as a whole reveals that Kochanowski's works owe much to the humanist tradition and rarely provide any clear evidence of whether he was a Catholic or a Protestant.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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