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Tale of Mr Twardowski

Original version
Toward the end of the eighteenth century there lived in Kraków a magician, Mr Twardowski, who quite properly was called the Faust of Poland, because of his dealings with the Evil One. In his youth Twardowski had followed the study of medicine, and became the most celebrated doctor in all Poland. But Twardowski was not satisfied with this. He craved greater and still greater power. At last one day, as he was reading, he found in an old book of magic - the formula for summoning the devil. When night came, a storm had risen, and he began his incantations. Before long the ground opened at Twardowski's feet and flames leaped out; and in the flames appeared the Evil One himself, in the form of a man in a red cloak with the well-known pointed red cap. "I am Mefistofeles. What do you wish?" the devil asked. "The power of your most secret wisdom," was the answer. "And how is this to be done?" "You shall make me the most celebrated of all the learned men of the century, and shall besides give me such happiness as no man has ever enjoyed upon this earth before." "So be it," said the devil. "But on condition that at the end of seven years I gain possession of your soul." "You may take me," answered Twardowski, "but only in Rome you will have power over me. The devil hesitated over this clause, but thinking of the fun he could have in the holy city, finally agreed. Leaning against the wall of stone he wrote the compact, which Twardowski, making a slight wound in his arm, signed with his own blood. When morning came, the first thing that he demanded was to have all the silver of Poland gathered together in one place and covered over with great mounds of sand. One day it would please Twardowski to fly without wings through the air; on another, to the delight of the crowd, to gallop backward on a rooster; on another to float in a boat without a rudder or sail, accompanied by some maiden who for the moment had inflamed his heart. One day, by the use of his magic mirror, he set fire to the castle of an enemy a mile away. This last feat made him greatly feared by people far and wide. At last the seven years were up. The devil appeared to Twardowski and said: "Twardowski, the time of our pact is over, and I command you to fulfill your promise and go to Rome." "What shall I do there?" "Give me your immortal soul," was the answer. "Do you think I am a fool?" asked Twardowski. Then the devil vanished and Twardowski returned home. Twardowski was becoming younger, and stronger and he desired, above all things, to be freed forever from his compact with the devil. Long years of evading his fate and offending the devil, he was putting his life into a great danger. One day it was him who got tricked. Once the devil requested a meeting in a certain tavern near Kraków, and upon arriving Twardowski felt something strange as if his powers were being overtaken. Devil laughed – the tavern was called ‘Rome’! Twardowski tried to escape but since the clause of the contract was fullfilled, the devil started growing stronger than him. The Master eventually managed to summon a magical rooster with his remaining powers, and flew off riding on its back. The devil chased them but the rooster tookTwardowski up to the moon, where devil could not go. And so, according to the story, Twardowski is suspended in the vault of heaven to this very day
Alternative versions
The alternative version says that Mrs Twardowska chased the devil away - tired of her husband's roistering lifestyle, she followed him to Rome tavern and got between him and the devil, demandig Twardowski to go back home at once. As the devil tried to oppose her, she focused her rage in him and Twardowski fled on a rooster from them both.
Main characters
Mr Twardowski , Mefistofeles the devil
Connected artistic / architectonic / historical heritage
Twardowski is said to have lived in or near Kraków and different places in Kraków claim to be the exact location of Twardowski's house. The sorcerer might have lived either somewhere in the city center, near the Rynek Główny or Ulica Grodzka, or across the River Vistula in the village of Krzemionki (now part of Kraków). Across Poland, there are a number of inns and pubs called Rome , all of which claim to be the one where Pan Twardowski met the devil. The oldest of these inns date back to only the late 17th century, about 100 years after Twardowski's time. The one in Sucha is probably the best known of these inns.
Local traditions or historical connections
The legend of Mr Twardowski inspired a great number of Polish, Ukrainian, Russian and German poets, novelists, composers, directors and other artists. One of the best-known literary works featuring Mr Twardowski is the humorous ballad ‘Pani Twardowska’ (Mrs Twardowska) written by Adam Mickiewicz in 1822. In this ballad Twardowski agreed to be taken to hell on one condition – the devil had to spend one year living with Mrs Twardowska. The devil, however, couldn’t stand the woman’s strong character and eventually ran away from her. Mr Twardowski was thus saved. Stanisław Moniuszko, a notable Polish composer, wrote music for the ballad in 1869, and the story is often shown in theatres. Pictures of Mr Twardowski is also a popular motif in the folk art of the Kraków region. He may be found, for example, during the famous Cracovian cribs competition (Szopki Krakowskie). He is typically depicted as a Polish nobleman either riding a rooster or sitting on the Moon.
Didactical Relevance
.While working with the legend students will come across many symbols connected with magic and tales present in most European countries. The process of deconstructing the legend will teach students creative attitude towards their learning, arouse imagination and creative expression, help them discover their talents and passion and find bonds with cultures of other countries. In the terms of education students will develop their reading, analyticals and descriptive skills, as well as IT skills for research and compiling information
Didactical Activity
.Activity: (for the whole class or group work) geographical – find Kraków on the map, and Skałki Tawrdowskiego in a nearby Zakrzówek. historical – Twarowski is considered most famous Polish sorcerer, called alsu Polish Faust, he was also a real person, a nobleman. art/architecture – Adam Mickiewicz wrote a ballad about Twardwski and Stanisław Moniuszko wrote music to the ballad. Also, the character inspired may writers and musicians from Poland and Germany. literature – read the legend and check for proper understanding especially if any folk or regional terminology appears - read the legend again and look for connections with the geographical/historical/art information that were found


An old animation presenting the legend

External Sources

Sightseeing with the legend
In Poland there are many towns and cities that claim the connection to Master Twardowski. Bydgoszcz and Kraków are most famous ones

PDF version of the legend in national language

Polish version (777,9 kb)