[Rev:] Mariola Jarczykowa, Rhymes and Sermons at Burial. Funeral Matters of Radziwill Family in the 17th Century. Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Śląskiego, Katowice 2012, 280 p.
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The book entitled Rhymes and Sermons at Burial. Funeral Matters of Radziwill Family in 17th Century is devoted to literary works related to the death of the members of the Radziwill of Birże family. The book consists of four chapters focused on the people whose death left a comparatively rich literary documentation in the form of sermons, homilies, epitaphs and testaments. One of the most interesting achievements of this research that dealt with the materials mentioned above is equalization of the status of all investigated texts: oratorical, documentary and poetic. Latin epitaphs, occasional poems, funeral sermons and homilies as well as documents such as testaments have been treated as materials of equal importance in this research. Another merit of the book is the inclusion of the texts that have remained so far in manuscripts. Although they were copied mostly as anonymous texts, Mariola Jarczykowa took the trouble to determinate the authorship of some these 17th century texts by means of the analysis of extensive correspondence related to the funerals. There is no doubt that Mrs Jarczykowa is very well prepared to deal with the subject. She has been involved in the seminar of the Committee on the Study of the Reformation in Poland and Eastern and Central Europe (the University of Warsaw, Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies „Artes Liberales”, December 18-19, 2009). She is also known as an expert in nineteenth-century editions of addresses and letters by Krzysztof Radziwiłł (1585-1640) and as a specialist in the Reformation’s “culture of the word” (manuscripts, books, poetry and the art of public speaking). She is the author of four scholarly books. Apart from the most recent publication that is being reviewed here, there are three other studies: The Book and Literature in the Circle of the Birża Radziwiłłs in the First Half of the Seventeenth Century (Katowice 1995); Reading Matter by Piotr Kochlewski. On the Literary Activity Performed by the Secretary to the Radziwills of Birże in the First Half of the 17th Century (Katowice 2006) and Kultura epistolarna w kręgu Radziwiłłów birżańskich w XVII wieku (Kielce 1998). At present, she is head of the Department of Baroque and Old Books in the Institute of Polish Literature. As far as Rhymes and Sermons at Burial is concerned, it has to be stressed that in the context of the topic of religious poetry, the two most interesting chapters of the book are the second and the third ones. The second chapter, presenting the literature about women’s death, focuses on Radziwill’s two wives: Zofia Słucka and Katarzyna Potockia. The first lady was the addresse of some Latin funeral poems, religiously-tinged, published by Salomon Rysiński and of a few poems by Daniel Naborowski, whereas the memory of Katarzyna Potocka was celebrated by Catholic priests in, among other things, one emblematic print. Latin occasional poems and epitaphs also provide the literary and sacred context of the children’s death, involving the youngest members of the family, i.e. Krzysztof Radziwill’s progeny: Mikołaj, Jerzy and Halszka. Describing the duchess the poets use Latin words such as virtus, pietas and bonitas, but in the case of the lament after the death of a child the floristic imagery is usually employed (e.g. the image of a rose cut by a sickle). Taking everything into account, it can be undoubtedly confirmed that Mariola Jarczykowa’s book Rhymes and Sermons is an interesting, informative and valuable study. Her analysis of occasional poems connected with Radziwill of Birża family brings to the reader’s notice many unknown texts and demonstrates artistic and rhetorical values of the poetry in the seventeenth century.
- Bibliography (First Literature [in Polish]):
- Jarczykowa Mariola, Przy pogrzebach rzeczy i rytmy: funeralia Radziwiłłowskie z XVII wieku, Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Śląskiego, Katowice 2012, ss. 275,  s.,  s. tabl.,  k. tabl., il., seria: Podręczniki i Skrypty Uniwersytetu Śląskiego w Katowicach, nr 2996, ISSN 0208-6336.
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