Cyprian Norwid – Peter Gehrisch, Über die Freiheit des Wortes (On the freedom of the word)

  • Arent van Nieukerken Faculty of Slavic Studies at the University of Amsterdam
Keywords: German rendition; Rzecz o wolności słowa [On the freedom of the Word]; Peter Gehrisch; Norwid


This article is a critical appraisal of the recent German publication entitled Über die Freiheit des Wortes, which is a German translation of the well-known Norwid's poetic treatise On the freedom of the Word, also including some other translations of his poetic works, e.g. Fatum, W Weronie [In Verona], Bema pamięci żałobny-rapsod [A funeral rhapsody in memory of General Bem], Ironia [Irony] or Fortepian Szopena [Chopin’s Grand Piano]. Yet, preeminent in the volume is the title treatise in verse, if not for the fact that the volume offers the first ever German rendition of this work. According to the author of the article, the translator Peter Gehrisch sometimes happens to fall into interpretation traps that Norwid’s texts are full of: semantic convolutions, phraseological ambiguities or – above all – stylistic and syntactic complications. Another limitation that is evident in the German rendition is that Gehrisch strove very much to preserve in his version the original versed form of the treatise. The result is not always optimal if one considers the senses of the particular phrases or larger fragments.


Balcerzan E., „Spotkanie tłumaczy Norwida”, [w:] Cyprian Norwid. W 150-lecie urodzin, red. M. Żmigrodzka, Warszawa 1973, s. 221-231.

Müller M., La science du langage, [Paris, 1867].

Norwid C.K., Über die Freiheit des Wortes. Poem, aus dem Polnischen von P. Gehrisch, Leipzig 2012.

Steiner G., Real Presences, London, 1989.