Kazimierz Orłoś

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  • fot. Krzysztof Dubiel

Born in 1935, a prose writer, screenwriter for film and television, author of radio plays, journalist, and a lawyer by education. In 1973 he published The Marvelous Den in Paris under his own name, which had previously been stopped by the censors in Poland. From then till 1989 he was forbidden to publish in Poland, putting out books through émigré publishing houses and underground circulation. Kazimierz Orłoś published his first collection of short stories – Between the Riverbanks – in 1961. This is his favorite form of prose (the short story), though his most well known works prior to 1989 were novels: The Marvelous Den, The Third Lie and The Repository. He specialized in literary reports on the degraded reality of the Polish People’s Republic. Orłoś has always remained a realist, though he is no stranger to satire and the grotesque. Both today and in the past he has tended to place his settings in the Polish countryside, and his protagonists are most often from the working class. He also draws from events that happened in the more or less remote past (e.g. in the Stalinist era). Among the books published by Kazimierz Orłoś after 1989, three books of prose have been particularly warmly received. The first of these – the nostalgic, moody Blue Glazier – looks back at events from the 1950s. In this book the author not only critically surveyed this epoch, but also tackled existential issues, such as the mysteries and charms of innocence, the difficulties in coming of age, and delight in the world. This book reveals a previously absent lyricism, which might be seen as the writer striving to recreate himself, having previously been almost exclusively associated with “burning” political issues. The writer prepared another surprise with Wooden Bridges. His moralizing passion was restored, and he once again raised his voice about public matters. This time, however, his criticism was leveled at those responsible for the shape and quality of social life in free Poland. In the few stories that make up this book, the writer presents shattering depictions of life in the Polish countryside. The pages of these stories feature victims of the system change – brutal alcoholics wallowing in inconceivable poverty, with no prospects for future change. As a counterpoint, there are also short and atmospheric vignettes showing the Mazurian district’s natural beauty. The third volume of prose – The Girl from the Porch – packs as many surprises as the first two. This book is set in the same locale as those that came before (residents of Mazurian villages submerged in virgin forests), but here there are no social issues. This time we have problems concerning the history of this land. It chiefly concerns two reluctant neighbors, the Germans and the Poles, and the dramatic fate of the residents of the Mazurian area, forever on the wrong end of cruel history, and of the equally soulless politics.

Bibliography


(after 1989)

  • Drugie wrota w las. Wybór opowiadań, Warszawa: Iskry, 1992
  • Zimna Elka, Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Morex, 1995.
  • Niebieski szklarz, Kraków: Wydawnictwo Literackie, 1996.
  • Święci tańczą na łąkach, Lublin: Wydawnictwo UMCS, 1996.
  • Wielbłąd i inne opowiadania filmowe, Izabelin: Izabelin Studio, 2001.
  • Drewniane mosty, Kraków: Wydawnictwo Literackie, 2001.
  • Dziewczyna z ganku, Kraków: Wydawnictwo Literackie, 2006.
  • Letnik z Mierzei, Kraków: Wydawnictwo Literackie, 2008.
  • Bez ciebie nie mogę żyć, Kraków: Wydawnictwo Literackie, 2010.
  • Dom pod Lutnią, Kraków: Wydawnictwo Literackie, 2012.
  • Historia leśnych kochanków i inne opowiadania, Kraków: Wydawnictwo Literackie, 2013
  • Dzieje dwóch rodzin. Mackiewiczów z Litwy i Orłosiów z Ukrainy, Kraków: Wydawnictwo Literackie, 2015

Translations:

French:

  • L'Estivant [Letnik z Mierzei], trans. Erik Veaux, Lozanna: Noir sur Blanc, 2011