Publication Year: 2013
Published by: Northern Illinois University Press
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An Introduction to Marek Hłasko—Jaroslaw Anders
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Every generation of Polish writers that had to live and create under the communist regime can be described as a “lost generation.” But the generation born in the 1930s was probably the most ill-fated of them all. It was a profoundly tragic generation that also happens to be one of the least well known to ...
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Marek Hłasko was one of the first Polish writers to capture my imagination. His writing was so fresh, so bold, so unlike anything I’d read before, that I was hooked. I shared what was available in translation with others, and when I exhausted the supply, I undertook one ...
Chapter One. Belt, Shoelaces, Tie, If You Don’t Mind
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In February 1958, I disembarked at Orly Airport from an airplane that had taken off in Warsaw. I had eight dollars on me. I was twentyfour years old. I was the author of a published volume of short stories and two books that had been refused publication. I was also the recipient of the Publishers’ Prize, which I’d received a few weeks ...
Chapter Two. Wrocław, Obory, Rose Island
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Igor Newerly arranged a three-month stipend for me from the Polish Writers’ Union. Since I had no place to live in Warsaw, I left for Wrocław. Newerly helped me a lot. Back then, he was at the height of his success. His novel A Souvenir from Cellulose was regarded as a masterpiece. There wasn’t a ...
Chapter Three. Reporter for the Most Courageous Magazine in Poland
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I don’t remember how I joined up with the gang from Po Prostu anymore. There’s only one logical explanation to the vexing riddle of how I became an employee there, or even how I found the place. On the ground floor of the building where the most courageous magazine of its time had its offices was a bar called Jontek. Maybe one day I took ...
Chapter Four. Goofy the Dog
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Not long ago, as I was reading one of the latest issues of Kultura, I came upon an anonymous article titled “A Voice from the Motherland.” The author of the article was discussing the attitude of Poles toward America. During the Korean War, he reminisced, Poles who were walking by the American embassy would remove their hats to ...
Chapter Five. Felix Dzerzhinsky and Bogart
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Sure, it would be best to live like Felix Dzerzhinsky. But you can only live like Dzerzhinsky on the backs of the working class, and that’s not always possible. A person understands this sad truth only after he has requested political asylum, and when his sole personal property is an oilcloth suitcase containing gifts from the American people to refugees ...
Chapter Six. Two Wardrobe Doors for Sale
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Despite what you might have read, the brief period of free speech in Poland didn’t begin with Władysław Gomułka’s ascent to power. In fact, that’s when it came to an end, under the guise of “raison d’état.” That was the reason given by Gomułka, the man we had pinned our hopes on. Gomułka didn’t have to use metaphors and figures of ...
Chapter Seven. Hotel Victory
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Once I got to Paris, I acted like a complete idiot. I don’t know why I felt so hopelessly ridiculous and alone. When I walked the streets and looked at all the people sitting in cafés, laughing and drinking, I was sure I cut a miserable figure. Of course, it didn’t even occur to me that I ought to go to some school and start studying French, if only so I ...
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Page Count: 232
Illustrations: 20 halftones
Publication Year: 2013