ON THE FIELD OF GLORY (A HISTORICAL FICTION NOVEL OF POLAND)by Henryk Sienkiewicz
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ON THE FIELD OF GLORY……if you are intrigued about the 1683 battle of Vienna and the forces of Polish King, Jan Sobieski III….you will love this historical novel! The love story between the two main characters will touch you and you will find a portrait created of rural and noble Polish life that is intriguing. 265 Pages in print!
• This volume includes a “Detailed Biography” of our author, Henryk Sienkiewicz.
The book before us gives pictures of Polish character and life on the eve of the second great siege of Vienna.
Twice was that city beleaguered by Turkey. The first siege was commanded by Solyman, that Sultan who was surnamed Magnificent by western nations; to Turks he was known as the Lord of his Age and the Lawgiver.
The first siege was repelled by the bravery of the garrison, by the heroism of Count Salm its commander, by the terrible weather of 1529, and also through turbulence of the Janissary forces. The second siege was crushed in 1683 by Sobieski’s wise strategy, the splendid impetus of the Poles, and the firmness of the allies.
Had the Polish king not appeared the Sultan would have triumphed, hence Sobieski and his men are hailed ever since as the saviours of Vienna.
The enthusiasm of the time for Sobieski and his force was tremendous.
“There was a man sent from God whose name was John,” this was the Gospel read at the Thanksgiving Mass in Saint Stephen’s, the cathedral, the noble old church of that rescued and jubilant city. Some Poles went to Rome after that to get relics; the Pope gave this answer: “Take earth steeped in blood from the field where your countrymen fell at Vienna.”
Many times have men here in America asked me: Are the Poles really held by such an intensity of passion? if they are, why does it seize them, whence does it come, what is the source and the cause of it? I reply to these questions as best I am able, and truthfully: It comes from the soul of the Slavs in some part, and in some part from history. The Poles have as a race their original gift to begin with; this gift, or race element, has met in its varied career certain peoples, ideas, and principles. The result of this meeting is this: that the Polish part of the Slav world holds touching itself an unconquerable ideal. It has absorbed, as it thinks, certain principles from which it could not now separate.
The Poles could not if they would, and would not if they could, be dissevered from that which, as they state, they have worked out in history, that which no power on earth can now take from them, and to which they are bound with the faith of a martyr.
Through ideas and principles, that is, truths gained in their experience as a people, and which in them are incarnate and living, the Poles feel predestined to triumph, time, of course, being given.
What are these ideas and principles? men ask of me often. Combined all in one they mean the victory and supremacy of Poland. They have been worked out during centuries, I answer, of Polish experience with Germany, with Russia, with Rome and Byzantium, with Turks and with Tartars. But beyond all do they come as the fruit of collisions with Germany and Russia, and as the outcome of teachings from Rome and the stern opposition of Byzantium. Through this great host of enemies and allies, and their own special character, came that incisive dramatic career which at last met a failure so crushingly manifest.
At a time when the state of Poland was constantly undergoing political turmoil, Henryk Sienkiewicz wasn’t afraid to ruffle feathers. Having already achieved success in his career around the end of the 19th century, the Polish journalist negatively portrayed the Teutonic Order at a time in which his audience lived under German rule. At the same time, he meticulously included historical language in his works, a sort of celebration of authenticity and the past. He would earn a Nobel Prize in 1905 for "outstanding merits as an epic writer."
Sienkiewicz mastered historical novels that vividly put readers in places as distinct as 17th century Poland and Ancient Rome. He is still well regarded today for novels like "With Fire and Sword", "The Deluge", “Quo Vadis”, and "Fire in the Steppe".
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