Władysław Orkan (27 November 1875 – 14 May 1930) (actually born as Franciszek Ksawery Smaciarz, changed surname to Smreczyński, but primarily known under his pen name, Orkan) was a Polish writer and poet from the Young Poland period. He is known as one of the greatest Polish writers from Podhale region and Górale folk; the most famous of his works portray the common people from that region.
Franciszek Ksawery Smaciarz|
27 November 1875
Poręba Wielka, Austria-Hungary
14 May 1930 (aged 54)|
Born in Poręba Wielka, Limanowa County as Franciszek Ksawery Smaciarz, he attended the elementary school in Szczyrzyc. He started publishing while in the fourth grade; he also joined many extracurricular clubs and organization, including pro-Polish independence ones. Due to his involvement in such activities, his grades suffered, and he never passed the matura exam. He returned to Poręba village, and continued writing. He debuted in 1896 with a publication of a poem, patriotic poem Nad grobem matki and several satirical verses. In 1898 he published his first work, collection of short stories, Nowele; that year he also changed his surname in to Smreczyński. He published more works soon thereafter: another collection short stories Nad urwiskiem in 1900, a novel Komornicy (1900), drama Postronni (1903), a verse volume Z tej smutnej ziemi (1903), novel W roztokach (1908) and others.
In early 1900s he started construction of a new house; the same building would later become the Biographical Museum of Władysław Orkan (Muzeum Biograficzne Władysława Orkana or Orkanówka for short). At that time he also married Maria Zwierzyńska, they would have one child, Zofia. Maria would die three years after giving childbirth, Władysław Orkan, always troubled with finances, would ask his sister to raise his daughter. He would later marry Bronisława Folejewska. During those years he also travelled to Italy, Switzerland and Germany.
During the First World War he joined the Polish Legions (4th Regiment). For most of his life he stayed in Poręba village. In addition to writing, he was also an activist for the region, cofounder and member of Podhale Association (Tatras Highlanders Union, 1918) and supporter of peasants’ movement. After the war, he continued to write; particularly notable are lyrical poems constituting a cycle Pochwała życia, the drama Widma (1917–1927), the novel Czantoria (1928–1929) and his articles and essays Listy ze wsi (1925–1927). He died in Kraków; shortly before he could collect the 1930 City of Warsaw’s Award for Literature. He is buried at the Rakowicki Cemetery, but next year he was exhumed and moved to a Remembrance Cemetery at Pęksowy Brzyzek, Zakopane.
After his death, many regional organisations were set up under his name, to commemorate his contribution to the culture and prestige of the Podhale region.
One of the most common image in his works was the poor Polish village. However his works contain other images as well, for example descriptions of mountain countryside and nature, and humorous elements. His early works were inspired by Stanisław Witkiewicz.