The Mouseiad and other Mock Epics
International brigades of mice and rats join forces to defend the rodents of Poland, threatened with extermination at the paws of cats favoured by the ancient ruler King Popiel, a sybaritic, cowardly ruler… The Hag of Discord incites a vicious rivalry between monastic orders, which only the good monks’ common devotion to… fortified spirits… is able to allay… The present translation of the mock epics of Poland’s greatest figure of the Enlightenment, Ignacy Krasicki, brings together the Mouseiad, the Monachomachia, and the Anti-monachomachia — a tongue-in-cheek ‘retraction’ of the former work by the author, criticised for so roundly (and effectively) satirising the faults of the Church, of which he himself was a prince. Krasicki towers over all forms of eighteenth-century literature in Poland like Voltaire, Swift, Pope, and LaFontaine all rolled into one. While his fables constitute his most well-known works of poetry, in the words of American comparatist Harold Segel, ‘the good bishop’s mock-epic poems […] are the most impressive examples of his literary gifts.’ This English translation by Charles S. Kraszewski is rounded off by one of Krasicki’s lesser-known works, The Chocim War, the poet’s only foray into the genre of the serious, Vergilian epic.
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