The ten years Stanisław Pigoń spent in Wilno (1921-1931) was a very important phase of his life. Wilno not only attracted a great deal of his research but also became the focus of a lasting emotional attachment, a sentiment which he reaffirmed in a memoir published shortly before his death in 1968. Although a lot is already known about Pigoń’s Wilno decade, there are some episodes that are worth a closer examination. One of them is a debate about Konrad’s cell which he triggered off just before leaving Wilno. The controversy concerns a cell in the former Basylian Monastery where Adam Mickiewicz was imprisoned in 1823 and where Konrad, the main character of his Dziady (Forefathers’ Eve) undergoes a spiritual transformation, the climax of the poetic drama. Pigoń contributions to this interminable debate exhibit a fine balance of scholarly precision and passionate conviction. This article not only looks at the origin and the early phases of the Konrad’s cell controversy in their contemporary background but also tries to show Pigoń’s involvement in the life of the university and the cultural and literary life of Wilno.
The article analizes Stanisław Pigoń’s essay ‘Some Golden Thoughts on the Chair of Polish Literature’ written to commemorate the 600th jubilee of the Jagiellonian University. Stanisław Pigoń (1885-1968), Distinguished Profesor of Polish Literature, had it published in the Cracow weekly Życie Literackie in May 1964; its expanded version was published two years later in a volume of essays Drzewiej i wczoraj [In the Old Days and Yesterday] in 1966. Both versions were published again in a a bibliophile volume in December 2018 (the manuscript and the printed versions). At the heart of Pigoń’s essay are the twin ideas of freedom and the ‘spiritual life of the nation’, borrowed from Juliusz Słowacki’s epic poem The Spirit King. The article examines Pigoń’s key theme and the manner in which, as he saw it, it shaped the lectures of the most eminent professors of Polish literature in the 19th and 20th century (Michał Wiszniewski, Karol Mecherzyński, Stanisław Tarnowski, Ignacy Chrzanowski). Pigoń’s survey ends in 1910, but, as the author of the article observes, by that time the ideas he so strongly believed in were as relevant as ever.