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시엔키에비츠의 단편 소설 중 가장 많이 알려진 작품 중 하나인 <음악가 얀코> Janko Muzykant는 천재적 재능을 타고난 어린아이의 비극적으로 끝난 짧은 일생을 다루고 있다. 남의 집 방을 빌려서 혼자 살고 있는 가난한 날품팔이 시골 부인의 외아들로 신체적 발달장애를 가지고 태어난 얀코는 음악가로서 천재적 재능을 가지고 있었지만, 그의 어머니를 비롯해서 주위 사람들로부터 조금도 인정을 받지 못했을 뿐만 아니라 모든 사람들로부터 무시당하면서 살다가 억울하게 도둑의 누명을 쓰고 매를 맞아 죽는다. 이 짧은 작품에서 시엔키에비츠는 당시 폴란드 사회의 후진성과 폴란드 농촌의 계급구조와 폴란드 귀족과 농민들 간의 소통의 부재, 폴란드 귀족의 농민에 대한 편견과 무관심, 사회의 기층을 형성하고 있는 민중들 상호 간의 유대의 결여 등 폴란드 사회에 내재해 있는 본질적인 문제들을 예리하게 지적하고 있다. 이 작품은 크게 세 부분으로 나누어진다. 가난과 무시 속에서도 음악에 대한 열정으로 살고 있는 얀코의 삶과, 바이올린을 한번 만져 보고 싶다는 강렬한 욕망과 남의 바이올린을 만지면 안 된다고 하는 내면의 다른 소리와의 갈등 그리고 도둑의 누명을 쓰고 불공정한 재판의 결과 매를 맞고 죽는 과정으로 구성되어 있다.


Janko Muzykant is one of the well-known short stories by Henry Sienkiewicz (1846-1916). This short story, published in 1880, deals with the backwardness of the Polish countryside and the disparity between the Polish gentry and the peasantry. The hero of the novella is Janko, the only child of a poor landless single mother, who lives in a rented room in a peasant's house. Throughout the short story, there is no mention of Janko's father, and this lack of a male figure in Janko's development is echoed by his weak and small physique. Because Janko was born so puny, the neighbors think that he won't live for long, and even as he is growing up, they regard him as the village simpleton. Naturally, he has no friends and is portrayed as a lonely figure. Unknown to those around him Janko has an exceptionally distinguished talent for music. He can hear the musical harmony in nature and finds that the nature is a wonderful concert. Often, Janko listens to music coming from a church or from the village tavern. Unfortunately for him, however, nobody understands him, and even his own mother is afraid of his abnormal behavior. She often beats him, even if she loves him, in the hope that he will get out of his extraordinary lifestyle. Of particular interest to Janko is the violin: he even tries to build one himself, but it doesn't function properly. One day, he sees a violin in a manor house and sneaks up to it, only to touch it once as he has so strongly desired to touch one in his life. Sadly, Janko gets caught even before he reaches the violin, and he is brought before the court. In punishment of his action, he gets fatally beaten. The day after his death, the gentry family returns to their manor house from their vacation in Italy. Speaking French to each other, the young man of the family comments to his fiancée in passing, "Italy – what a beautiful country it is! It is a great pleasure for us to seek out talents there and to develop them!" This sentence highlights not only the immense discrepancy between the gentry and the peasantry, but it also illustrates the indifference of the Polish gentry towards the peasants that support their lives. In many ways, Sienkiewicz successfully captures the irony in the Polish gentry's fascination for Italy over Poland and its interest in French over Polish.