The Polish novelist and short-story writer Wadysaw Reymont (RAY-muhnt) was the 1924 recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature. He was born Wadysaw Stanislaw Rejment, the son of a comparatively poor country church organist. His childhood was unhappy and far from promising; he was not a good student and so erratic in his efforts that he never completed school. He was apprenticed to various shops and trades but failed to hold any position long. His father, concerned about earning enough as organist and farmer to support his family, was unsympathetic and stern with the boy, and the mother’s piety merely accentuated his failures. Early on he developed an enthusiastic interest in the books his brother brought to him, and in solitude the family’s black sheep began to build the interest in literature that eventually made him one of Poland’s notable novelists. He was particularly interested in Julius Slowacki’s romantic historical novel Lilla Weneda (1840). When he discovered the historical novels of Henryk Sienkiewicz (1846-1916), he read them eagerly, vowing to take them as a pattern for his own work.
His first adventures away from home were with a traveling theatrical company, which the penniless boy joined for a year. He later captured his experiences in The Comedienne.
When he returned from his theatrical venture, his father found employment for him on the Warsaw-Vienna railroad, where he managed to hold a job long enough to complete a considerable amount of reading. When he was about twenty-six years old, even though he had no funds, he decided to take a chance on establishing himself in Warsaw. He lived there in poverty and consoled himself by writing short stories, which were eventually accepted by the Kraków publication...
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