I was amused and astonished by Johnston’s ability to channel the playfulness of Mickiewicz’s language throughout the text. ... It's Mickiewicz's brilliant play with language that makes this poem an engrossing experience. And this is where Johnston's "performance" succeeds most definitively: in capturing the author's wild fluctuations of register and brilliant associative riffs.
— Eric Fishman, ArtsFuseReading Johnston’s meticulous, brilliant version feels ... like stumbling across a lost city, forgotten for ages and now brought back to life.
— Josh Billings, Los Angeles Review of Books
[A] story to stir the soul of the reader as they cheer the insurgents on, all the while dreaming of a brighter future for their homeland... Pan Tadeusz has all the elements of an entertaining story, and that’s exactly what unfolds.
— Tony’s Reading List
Bill Johnston, one of the premier translators of our age, has here delivered his masterwork—a 450-page volume of rhymed verse that reads as compulsively as a great 19th-century novel. Pan Tadeusz, often solemnly revered as Poland’s and/or Lithuania’s “national epic,” is in fact a poem far more wayward and rambunctious—as Andrzej Wajda’s brilliant 1999 film adaptation showed. Like Wajda, Johnston conveys the cinematic sprawl of this great Shakespearian drama of rivalry and redemption, of insurrection and defeat, of kingdoms lost and retrieved in the nostalgic idylls of dream. And he does so in a contemporary English whose narrative verse-pulse is worthy of a Byron or Pushkin.
— Richard Sieburth
Bill Johnston has given us the first truly readable version of Poland’s enchanting and unlikely national epic. Johnston’s flexible use of iambic pentameter captures a truly great poem, which has the charm of a fairy tale and the capaciousness of a novel. I was continually delighted and surprised by this contemporary version of a nineteenth-century landmark, the last chapter of the European epic.
— Edward Hirsch
Adam Mickiewicz's verse novel is the single most influential text in the Polish language, period. But that's not why readers should flock to it in English. We should read it because it is a supreme work of Romantic irony—hypnotic, hilarious, melancholic, strange. And, in Bill Johnston's masterful translation, breathtaking.
— Benjamin PaloffThe book is marvelous, its language preserved as a thesaurus of phrases whose origin has been long forgotten, now constituting a shared national vocabulary. ... It has now appeared in a very good translation by Bill Johnston, uncluttered by archaisms, quick and energetic, full of humor and warmth, unobtrusively rhymed. It is a gift to English-language readers, revealing the depths of Lithuanian forests, squabbling warrior-barons, and flirting ladies in search of husbands. And the underlying despair of the author—an exile forever separated from home.
— Irena Grudzińska, Book Post