Anna Stanislawska: Orphan Girl

The Other Voice in Early Modern Europe - The Toronto Series , Vol. 45

Anna Stanisławska: Orphan Girl

Translated by Barry Keane
2016 | 129 pp. | 978-0-86698-547-5 | Paperback 6 x 9 in
MRTS 492 | $31.95 |

OVEME v45. Verse translation, introduction, and commentary by Barry Keane

No other work of early modern Polish literature can be compared with Anna Stanisławska’s poetic account of her life. What is more — no woman in Polish literature published such a sincere and artistically valuable confession until the twentieth century. Barry Keane has an exceptional talent to render all the beauty of old poetry into English, and has successfully captured the metrical and rhyming features of the poem, and its rhetorical and performative qualities, in a translation that is both faithful and readable.
—Piotr Wilczek
Professor, Faculty of “Artes Liberales,” University of Warsaw


Barry Keane has given us a striking addition to the early modern European canon in English translation. Anna Stanisławska’s poetic account of her atrocious experience as the unwilling bride of a mad young nobleman, and of her escape, is shapely, detailed and lifelike. Her writing matches her character: tough, angry, satirical; her verve and freshness carry the reader along through the twists of a lively, detailed narrative, illuminating the forces that could destroy even aristocratic women’s lives, in a time of huge political and military disruption in Poland. Aided by its excellent scholarly framework, we enter Stanisławska’s distant place and time, and encounter a memorable woman who can make us feel her troubles and her determination as if they were close by.
—Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin
Professor (emeritus), School of English, Trinity College Dublin