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Diary 1954

Leopold Tyrmand, Anita Shelton, Andrew Wrobel

Publication Year: 2014

Leopold Tyrmand, a Polish Jew who survived World War II by working in Germany under a false identity, would go on to live and write under Poland’s Communist regime for twenty years before emigrating to the West, where he continued to express his deeply felt anti-Communist views. Diary 1954—written after the independent weekly paper that employed him was closed for refusing to mourn Stalin’s death—is an account of daily life in Communist Poland. Like Czesław Miłosz, Václav Havel, and other dissidents who described the absurdities of Soviet-backed regimes, Tyrmand exposes the lies—big and small—that the regimes employed to stay in power. Witty and insightful, Tyrmand’s diary is the chronicle of a man who uses seemingly minor modes of resistance—as a provocative journalist, a Warsaw intellectual, the "spiritual father" of Polish hipsters, and a promoter of jazz in Poland—to maintain his freedom of thought.

Published by: Northwestern University Press


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Title Page, Copyright

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Translators’ Introduction

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pp. vii-6

In 1954 a Polish writer, having survived World War II and finding himself and his country confronted by the Soviet-imposed regime in Poland, decided to write a diary to record and reflect on his daily life under communism. Thirty-three-year-old Leopold Tyrmand was already known in Poland as a provocative journalist, a wit, a member of Warsaw’s intellectual society, “spiritual...

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pp. 7-10

The facts are as follows:

– I wrote this diary over the first three months of 1954.
– For twelve years, the handwritten notebooks lay at the bottoms of rarely opened drawers.
– In 1956 (it’s obvious at what moment) the Universal Weekly1 published an excerpt from the diary—the only one that has appeared in print in Poland.
– In 1965, after years of futile applications for a passport, I was finally...

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Volume One

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pp. 11-208

In the morning I humbled myself before God. As I always do to recognize holidays, beginnings, endings, anniversaries, birthdays, name days, consummations, and all other conceivable occasions. Generally speaking, for any reason of metaphysical pathos. And so, in the name of God, let’s finally begin this diary. I do have vague hopes riding on it, so how could I set out without...

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Volume Two

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pp. 209-368

After nearly a week’s break, I am filling in the missing days from memory, one by one. The diary seemed like dynamite that could blow up the entire building of the former YMCA. So after yesterday’s summons,346 I moved the notebooks out of the house. By the time I could bring them back, several days had passed.
And so I went to the former Mostowski Palace today. The building is...

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pp. 369-370

The diary ends in mid-sentence, as if halfway through a long exposition, a self-portrait with commentary and background. Why so abruptly?
It’s hard to explain precisely why. The last evening, tired from writing, as it often happened, I broke off a sentence with the intention of returning to it the next day. But I never did. The next day, Reader offered me a contract to write...

Index of Names

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pp. 371-379

E-ISBN-13: 9780810167490
E-ISBN-10: 0810167492
Print-ISBN-13: 9780810129511
Print-ISBN-10: 0810129515

Page Count: 399
Publication Year: 2014

Edition: 1

OCLC Number: 879352476
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Diary 1954

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Subject Headings

  • Tyrmand, Leopold -- Diaries.
  • Authors, Polish -- 20th century -- Biography.
  • Poland -- History -- 1945-1980.
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