Henryk Sienkiewicz

Banquet speech

Henryk Sienkiewicz’s speech at the Nobel Banquet at Grand Hôtel, Stockholm, December 10, 1905


Nations are represented by their poets and their writers in the open competition for the Nobel Prize. Consequently the award of the Prize by the Academy glorifies not only the author but the people whose son he is, and it bears witness that that nation has a share in the universal achievement, that its efforts are fruitful, and that it has the right to live for the profit of mankind. If this honour is premous to all, it is infinitely more so to Poland. It has been said that Poland is dead, exhausted, enslaved, but here is the proof of her life and triumph. Like Galileo, one is forced to think «E pur si muove» when before the eyes of the world homage has been rendered to the importance of Poland’s achievement and her genius.

This homage has been rendered not to me – for the Polish soil is fertile and does not lack better writers than me – but to the Polish achievement, the Polish genius. For this I should like to express my most ardent and most sincere gratitude as a Pole to you gentlemen, the members of the Swedish Academy, and I conclude by borrowing the words of Horace: «Principibus placuisse non ultima laus est».

From Nobel Lectures, Literature 1901-1967, Editor Horst Frenz, Elsevier Publishing Company, Amsterdam, 1969

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