Tadeusz Konwicki

#
  • photo by Elżbieta Lempp

This author of twenty novels, film director and screenwriter (the founder of the "Polish cinema des auteurs" was born in Lithuania in 1926. Konwicki was the conscience of Polish society and the crazed mirror in which it is reflected. He is one of the writers who have left the most lasting impression on post-war Polish literature and culture. He is regarded as a spokesman for the yearnings, attitudes, hopes and rage of several generations. From the Besieged City (1956) inaugurates a Vilnius cycle that would include the novels A Hole in the Sky (1959), The Werewolf (1969), A Chronicle of Amorous Incidents (1974) and Bohin (1987). These works, among Konwicki's most beautiful, evoke the region around Vilnius as a land of growing up and of initiation into the sense of life, of learning about love and death, a land where feelings are born and where the reconciliation with existence - a Faustian acceptance of duration - occurs. The portrait of contemporaneity, a sterile region and acid-etched time, is most intense in the cycle of novels that includes A Dreambook for Our Time (1963), Ascension Into Heaven (1967), and Nothing or Nothing (1971). They share an analysis of social memory that contains the evil of wartime and Stalinist evil, as well as the construction of a protagonist who is first unable to accept his own identity because it contains elements of guilt, and then is unable to establish that identity because the way to it is blocked by the lack of a connection between his own person and the present moment around him. That present moment is a vision of a police state in which the population, under constant surveillance, slowly loses its own contours and collapses into a shapeless mass. This image is deepened in the next cycle, which includes the best-known works of literature to be published outside the purview of state censorship: The Polish Complex (1977), A Minor Apocalypse (1979) and Underground River, Underground Birds (1984). Konwicki's direct engagement in social issues grew steadily after the publication of Nothing or Nothing. This engagement was counter-balanced by a cycle of "lying journals". These constituted non-required writing and were engaged neither in politics nor in literature. They cannot be read either as fiction or as fact, and are diverse in terms of their genres and aesthetics. These works--The Calendar and the Obituary (1976), Rising and Setting of the Moon (1982), Nowy Swiat Street and Vicinity (1986), Northern Lights (1991) and Slander Against Myself (1995) are collections of journal entries and essayistic interludes, fragments of literary works and social indiscretions. Their freedom, charm, wide range of wit and humors make them, like Gombrowicz's Diaries, true literary pearls and frequent objects of imitation.

"I write above all for the reader, with the intention of giving pleasure, amusing, stunning or destroying. It is impossible to write without the other person."
Half a Century of Purgation

Bibliography

  • Rojsty, 1956
  • Przy budowie, 1950
  • Władza, 1953
  • Z oblężonego miasta, 1956
  • Dziura w niebie, 1959
  • Sennik współczesny, 1963
  • Wniebowstąpienie, 1967
  • Zwierzoczłekopiór, 1969
  • Nic albo nic, 1971
  • Kronika wypadków miłosnych, 1974
  • Kalendarz i klepsydra, 1976
  • Kompleks polski, 1977
  • Mała apokalipsa, 1979
  • Wschody i zachody księżyca, 1982
  • Rzeka podziemna, podziemne ptaki, 1984
  • Nowy Świat i okolice, 1986
  • Bohiń, 1987
  • Zorze wieczorne, 1991
  • Pamflet na siebie, 1995
  • Pamiętam, że było gorąco. Z Tadeuszem Konwickim rozmawiają Katarzyna Bielas i Jacek Szczerba, Kraków: Znak, 2001.
  • Wiatr i pył, Warszawa: Czytelnik, 2008.

Translations: 

Belorussian:

  • Maly Apakalipsys, w: ARCHE 3-2002 [Mała Apokalipsa], Mińsk, 2002

Czech:

  • Malá apokalypsa, Praha: Mladá Fronta, 1992.
  • Bohyň, Praha-Litomyšl: Paseka, 2004.

Danish:

  • Den lille apokalypse. Kopenhagen: Brundum, 1984.

Dutch:

  • De kleine apocalyps, Amsterdam: Meulenhoff, 1993.

English:

  • The Anthropos-Spectre-Beast [Zwierzoczłekoupiór]. New York: S. Phillips, 1977.
  • The Polish complex [Kompleks polski]. New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 1982; Normal: Dalkey Archive Press, 1998.
  • A minnor apocalypse [Mała apokalipsa]. New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 1983; Normal: Dalkey Archive Press, 1999
  • A dreambook for our time [Sennik współczesny]. New York: Penguin Books, 1983.
  • Moonrise, moonset [Wschody i zachody księżyca]. New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 1987.
  • Bohiń. New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 1990; Bohin Manor, London Boston: Faber and Faber, 1992.
  • New Avenue and vicinity [Nowy Świat i okolice]. New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 1991.

Finnish:

  • Isoäitin tarina. Hämeenlinna: Tammi, 1997.
  • Pieni ilmestyskirja. Helsinki: Tammi, 1983.

French:

  • L’Ascension [Wniebowstąpienie], trans. Georges Lisowski, Paris: Gallimard 1971
  • Béthofantôme [Zwierzoczłekoupiór], trans. Barbara i Urszula Kotalska, Paris: Ed. Rupture 1978
  • La petite apocalypse [Mała apokalipsa], trans. Zofia Bobowicz, Paris: R. Laffont 1981, 1993, Presses Pocket 1992
  • La Clé des songes contemporains [Sennik współczesny], trans. Maryla Laurent, Paris: R. Laffont 1983
  • Bohini, un manoir en Lituanie [Bohiń], trans. Maryla Laurent, Paris: R. Laffont 1984, 1990, Seuil 1992
  • Fleuve souterrain, oiseaux de nuit [Rzeka podziemna, podziemne ptaki], trans. Zofia Bobowicz, Paris: R. Laffont 1986, 1999   
  • Chronique des événements amoureux [Kronika wypadków miłosnych], trans. Hélène Włodarczyk, Paris: Publications Orientalistes de France, 1987, 1996
  • Le complexe polonais [Kompleks polski], trans. Hélène Włodarczyk, Paris: R. Laffont 1988, Seuil 1992, 1999
  • Nouveau monde [Nowy świat i okolice], trans. Laurence Dyèvre, Paris: POL, 1988   
  • Le trou dans le ciel [Dziura w niebie], trans. Maryla Laurent, Paris: Criterion 1992, 2002
  • Roman de gare contemporain [Czytadło], trans. Maryla Laurent, Paris: R. Laffont, 1994

German:

  • Kronik der Liebesunfälle. Berlin-Weimar: Aufbau-Verlag, 1978.
  • Die polnische Apokalypse. Frankfurt: S. Fischer, 1982.
  • Angst hat grosse Augen. Wien: Europe-Verlag, 1973.
  • Die neue Strecke. Berlin: Dietz, 1951.
  • Modernes tagebuch. Munich: Biederstein, 1964.
  • Auf der Spitze des Kulturpalastes. Hamburg: Claassen, 1973.

Hungarian:

  • Kis apokalipszis, Pécs: Jelenkor Irodalmi és Müvészeti K., 1990.
  • Bohiń, Budapest: Osiris-Századvég / 2000, 1994.
  • Lengyel komplexus [Kompleks polski], Pozsony: Kalligram, 1997.

Italian:

  • Piccola apocalisse [Mała apokalipsa], trans. Pietro Marchesani. Milano: Feltrinelli 1981

Romanian:

  • Mica apocalipsă, Bukareszt: Humanitas, 2002.

Russian:

  • Bochin/Chronika ljubovnych proisšestvij/Malyj Apokalipsis, Moskva: Raduga, 1995.
  • Polskij kompleks [Kompleks polski], tłum. Ksenia Starosielska, Moskva: Mik, 2002.
  • Zveročelovekomorok [Zwierzoczłekoupiór], Sankt-Peterburg: Azbuka-Klassika, 2003.
  • Chronika ljubovnych proisšestvij [Kronika wypadów miłosnych], Sankt-Peterburg: Azbuka-Klassika, 2003.

Spanish:

  • Nochebuena polaca. Barcelona: Seix Barral, 1984.
  • Un pequeno apocalipsis. Barcelona: Mario Muchnik, 1987.

Ukrainian:

  • Chronik ljubowich podij, trans. Bożena Antoniak, Lwów: Urbino 2012.
  • Malienkij apokalipsis [Mała apokalipsa], trans. Bożena Antoniak, Lwów:              Urbino, 2015.