Posts tagged Poland
Stefan Grabinski (1887–1936)—"the Polish Poe"—has been picking up fans since China Miéville’s 2003 Guardian article bemoaning the lack of translations of his work. Miéville wrote that
…reading The Dark Domain by Stephan Grabinski is such a revelatory experience. Because here is a writer for whom supernatural horror is manifest precisely in modernity—in electricity, fire-stations, trains: the uncanny as the bad conscience of today.
I first read about Grabinski in Gilbert Alter-Gilbert’s long review of Dark Domain in Asylum Annual 1995 (probably my first exposure to Alter-Gilbert too!):
Again and again, these stories attain a crescendo of sustained hysteria, while, for their invocation of primordial powers, their penetrating psychological insights, and their brooding, misanthropic pessimism, one might liken the ensuing effect to sitting in the company of Madame Blavatsky, escorted by Arthur Machen and Guy de Maupassant, and chaperoned by Arthur Schopenhauer, screaming at the top of their lungs on a runaway roller coaster.
Translator Miroslaw Lipinski is working on two more story collections.
Through his press, Gaberbocchus (the name is a latinized version of Jabberwocky), he introduced to the English-reading world translations of works now considered canonical, including Alfred Jarry’s absurdist play Ubu Roi, Raymond Queaneau’s Exercises in Style, and Cozette de Charmoy’s above-pictured “collage novel,” The True Life of Sweeney Todd.
Bertrand Russell admiringly summed up Themerson’s own work as being “nearly as mad as the world.” The plot of The Mystery of the Sardine, a meandering detective story that begins with an exploding poodle and includes among its cast of characters a 12-year old author (of a book titled Euclid Was an Ass) and a bureaucrat called the Minister of Imponderabilia, suggests that Russell was not far off in his pithy assessment.
For more, see:
No one reads Polish avant superman Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz, a.k.a. Witkacy (1885 - 1939).
Publisher description of his first play, Maciej Korbowa and Bellatrix (1918): “A psychotic guru known as the Master, Maciej Korbowa, aided by his gender-shifting alter-ego Bellatrix, presides over a secret club of disciples addicted to drugs, alcohol, and sado-masochistic orgies and leads this band of metaphysical desperados and decadent artists no longer able to create on a philosophical quest for absolute Nothingness — until he finally betrays them all to the revolutionary Sailors of Death.”
Image: Witkacy, Kompozycja z autoportetem, 1918 from a 50 Watts post
And many plays:
“Treacherous and poisonous, the plague of dusk spread, passed from one object to another, and everything it touched became black and rotten and scattered into dust. People fled before it in silent panic, but the disease always caught up with them and spread in a dark rash on their foreheads. Their faces disappeared under large, shapeless spots. They continued on their way, now featureless, without eyes, shedding as they walked one mask after another, so that the dusk became filled with the discarded larvae dropped in their flight. Then a black, rotting bark began to cover everything in large putrid scabs of darkness. And while down below everything disintegrated and changed into nothingness in that silent panic of quick dissolution, above there grew and endured the alarum of sunset, vibrating with the tinkling of a million tiny bells set in motion by the rise of a million unseen larks flying together into the enormous silvery infinite.”
—No one reads Bruno Schulz (“The Night of the Great Season”, The Street of Crocodiles and Other Stories, tr. Celina Wieniewska, Penguin, 2008, p 86).