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Antoni Lange : biography

1863 - 17 March 1929

Antoni Lange (1863 – 17 March 1929) was a Polish poet, philosopher, polyglot (15 languages), writer, novelist, science-writer, reporter and translator. A representative of Polish Parnassianism and symbolism, he is also regarded as belonging to the Decadent movement. He was an expert on Romanticism, French literature and a popularizer of culture of Eastern cultures. He is famous for his novel Miranda.

He translated English, French, Hungarian, Italian, Spanish, Indian, American, Serbian, Egyptian and Oriental writers into Polish and Polish poets into French and English. He was also one of the most original poets of the Young Poland movement. His work is often compared to Stéphane MallarméA. Hutnikiewicz, Młoda Polska, Warszawa 2004, p. 316 and Charles Marie René Leconte de Lisle.

Lange was an uncle of the poet Bolesław Leśmian.


Little is known about Lange's personal life, even the date of his birth is doubtful. He was born into a strongly patriotic Jewish family who were influenced by the ideals of Romanticism. His father Henri Lange took part in the November Uprising. Young Antoni studied at Warsaw University but he was expelled for his patriotic activity by the Tsarist Russian authorities who ruled Poland at the time. For this reason he decided to study in Paris where he encountered new trends in literature, philosophy and art. In France he became familiar with the theories of Jean Martin Charcot, as well as Spiritualism, parapsychology, the philosophy of Arthur Schopenhauer and Friedrich Nietzsche, oriental religions, European and Eastern literature and modern literary criticism. He took part in the literary meetings of Stéphane Mallarmé.

He soon returned to his homeland, having become a dandy, and he became one of the best known members of Polish Bohemian life. Bolesław Prus, Julian Ochorowicz and Lange were the first Polish spiritists. In the 1890s he lived in Nowy Świat Street together with Władysław Reymont, a Polish writer and the winner of the Nobel Prize of 1924. Stanisław Brzozowski called Lange a real and not frequently European mindS. Brzozowski The Legend of Young Poland (Legenda Młodej Polski): and Julian Tuwim called him a master of reflective poetry.Note from Władca czasu (The Master of Time), edited by Julian Tuwim, Warsaw 1983 During this time Lange was a member of the Society of Polish Writers and Journalists. However, with the sharp growth of his popularity as a poet his poems became more sceptical, pessimistic and hermetic. The main theme of the poems of this period was the feeling of being isolated and misunderstood by the crowd.

Przychodzę do was z daleka...

I come to you from far away

Przychodzę do was z daleka,
Przychodzę z nieznanych stron.
Dusza twa była samotną
Jako barka bez kotwicy.
I come to you from far away,
I come to you from unknown places.
Your soul was as lonely
As a barge without an anchor.A faithful translation from Poland. Lange believed that being on the road is similar to feeling existentional loneliness

At the beginning of the 20th century he withdrew from public life and became lonely and forgotten. He collected his last poems in notebooks and never allowed anyone to publish them.The poems were published posthumously in 1931 in the appendix to Lange's play Malczewski

Lange's prestige as a writer was undermined by a new generation of avant-gardists. He died in isolation, destitution and obscurity in Warsaw in 1929. He never married and had no children.

Antoni Lange was a friend of Stéphane Mallarmé, Jan Kasprowicz and Stanisław Przybyszewski.

There are only two portraits of Lange, one of them was painted by Stanisław Wyspiański in 1890.

[[Władysław Podkowiński, Nowy Świat Street (1900), a town where Lange lived]]

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