Restless wanderers, unhappy lovers and conspirators-blackguards or translators of Oriental texts in Romantic Vilnius
What more than freedom can people living somewhere in Eastern Europe demand from life when their homeland is held captive? And if these people are young students from Vilnius schools endowed with exceptional sensibility, and a desire to learn and succeed as scholars? And Poland is still held captive. Pupils of Gotfryd Ernest Grodek, Joachim Lelewel and Wilhelm Münnich cannot satisfy their intellectual desires, so they crowd in the European provinces, waiting to be liberated from the darkness of partitions. They will still have to wait for nearly thirty years for the November Uprising. However, during that time, pupils of eminent Orientalists — among them Józef Sękowski, Jan Wiernikowski, Józef Kowalewski, Aleksander Chodźko, Ludwik Spitznagel, Antoni Muchliński, Ignacy Pietraszewski, August Żaba, Aleksander Szemiot, Adam Mickiewicz and Juliusz Słowacki — will turn Vilnius into a fairy tale land of miracles, becoming themselves outstanding scholars studying the Orient and, first of all, translators of Oriental works. Often, under the cover woven out of Arabian nights, they will spin tales about great journeys, wounded hearts and their lost homeland.