Władysław Terlecki

  • fot. Ela Lempp

Born in Czestochowa in 1933, died in Warsaw in 1999. He was the author of more than twenty books, mostly novels and collections of stories, although he was also known as an essayist and screenwriter as well as a playwright and author of radio dramas. His most interesting work is his historical writing, which has won praise from critics and readers alike. His main subject is the stormy history of nineteenth-century Poland, a time of insurrections and revolutionary movements; the January Insurrection of 1863 is the central event in his work. He has built a monumental cycle around that event: The Conspiracy, The Two Heads of the Bird, Return from Tsarskie Seloe, The Forest Grows. Terlecki gathered these works, which had been published between 1966 and 1977, into a single volume under the title Faces of 1863. In 1984, his novel The Lament closed the cycle devoted to the 1863 Insurrection. The novel The Two Heads of the Bird is regarded as the finest part of this cycle; Terlecki also produced a stage version and won the prestigious Koscielski Prize for this work. Terlecki seeks unchanging ideological and moral phenomena in long-ago events. He is interested in the enduring, timeless processes and mechanisms of politics. He has often declared that history is not an end in itself for him, but rather a way to understand the present. In a 1984 interview, he said: "I regard myself as a political writer who is interested in the formation of the political process." Especially in the 1970s, his books evoked heated discussions on Polish political attitudes (such as the conflict between pragmatism and romanticism) and fostered a realistic, rather than a mythological, understanding of the complicated history of Poland. Terlecki's writing is ambitious, applying formal innovations and taking up new subjects in Polish historiography. He is one of the leading contemporary novelists. His original style combines fabular and documentary elements; the writer often borrows the techniques of the essay, the chronicle, crime fiction, the court transcript and even the newspaper column in his novels and stories. Terlecki is also the author of psychological studies in novel form of the personality of the writer. This group includes The shadow of the Dwarf, the Shadow of the Giant, Scribbler, and Thorns and Laurels. Of particular note is the first of these titles, in which Terlecki contrasts the grand spiritual format of a past master (Leo Tolstoy) with the pettiness of a contemporary counterpart. "I take up historical themes... as a pretext."
Wladyslaw Terlecki


  • Spisek, Warszawa: Wydawnictwo MON, 1966.
  • Gwiazda Piołun, Warszawa: PIW, 1968.
  • Powrót z Carskiego Sioła, Warszawa: PIW 1973.
  • Odpocznij po biegu, 1975
  • Rośnie las, Warszawa: PIW, 1977.
  • Trzy etiudy kryminalne, Warszawa: PIW, 1980.
  • Cień karła, cień olbrzyma, Warszawa: Książka i Wiedza, 1983.
  • Lament, Kraków: WL, 1984.
  • Pismak, Warszawa: Czytelnik, 1984.
  • Drabina Jakubowa albo Podróż, Warszawa: Czytelnik, 1988.
  • Cierń i laur, Kraków: WL, 1989.
  • Wyspa kata, Warszawa: Twój Styl, 1999.



  • Poczinii si sled tolkoba ticzanie [Odpocznij po biegu], Sofia: Narodna kultura, 1980.


  • Černy román [Czarny romans], Praha; Odeon, 1981.
  • Odpočni po behu [Odpocznij po biegu], Praha: Odeon, 1981.


  • L'échelle de Jacob [Drabina Jakubowa], Paris: Éditions Robert Laffont, 1992.
  • Repose-toi apres la course [Odpocznij po biegu], Paris: Éditions Robert Laffont, 1994.


  • Ruh aus nach dem Lauf [Odpocznij po biegu], Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp, 1984.
  • Die zwei Köpfe des Adlers [Dwie głowy ptaka], Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp, 1990.


  • Fekete regény [Czarny romans], Budapeszt : Európa - Könykiadá, 1978.
  • Pihenj meg futás utáu [Odpocznij po biegu], Budapeszt : Európa - Könykiadá, 1980.


  • In fondo alla strada [Odpocznij po biegu], Palermo: Sellerio editore, 1983.


  • Kalionę baigei - pailseki... [Odpocznij po biegu], Vilnus: Vaga, 1980.


  • Otdochnij posle biega [Odpocznij po biegu], Moskwa: Progress, 1979.
  • Tien karlika, tien ispolina [Cień karła, cień olbrzyma], Moskwa: Raduga, 1989.


  • Trpka hvlezda [Gwiazda Piołun], Bratislava: Tatran, 1971.
  • Kde budem spočivat [Odpocznij po biegu], ], Bratislava: Tatran , 1975.
  • Putnici [Pielgrzymi], Bratislava: Tatran, 1975.
  • Cierna romanca [Czarny romans], Bratislava: Smena, 1978.


  • Psi gonjači so éa najeti [Zwierzęta zostały opłacone], Pomarska zaloéba, 1988.