Agnieszka Taborska

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  • photo by Krzysztof Dubiel/The Polish Book Institute

(born 1961) is a writer, art historian and translator (of Philippe Soupault, Gisele Prassinos, Roland Topor and Spalding Gray). Since 1988 she has divided her time between Warsaw and Providence, R.I., where she lectures on literature and art history at the Rhode Island School.

Her greatest acclaim came from a book called The Dreaming Life of Leonora de la Cruz, an apocryphal tale about an eighteenth-century nun, “discovered” by the French Surrealists, who made her their patron. In the history of Saint Leonora, transferred to the stage by the Parisian theatre Miettes de spectacles, the main features of Taborska’s style come together: a highly ironical imagination, a love of word play, black humour, and an erudition for which the history of surrealism holds no secrets. Taborska developed the surrealist theme in a book of essays called Conspirators of Imagination: Surrealism. In it she describes with passion, and from a previously unexplored angle, the fascinations and obsessions that mattered to the artists and writers of the Surrealist movement. These essays owe their highly interesting character to the fact that Taborska actually met some of these historic figures in person. Her fairytales for adults and children (which the German publisher defined as reading matter for five-to-100-year-olds) won a prize from the German Academy for Children’s Literature and were used as the basis for some animated films. Her most recent, most personal book is a collection of short stories, The Whale, or Objective Chance. It describes her adventures in various cities around the world, though it is not about the countries she travelled to, but epitomises the absurdities that govern the world, the funny incidents and imperceptible rules latent behind the wonder that is deep in everyday life. The Whale grabs life by the horns, just as the feature articles American Crumbs tried to face up to America and how it is different from Europe.

“In Agnieszka Taborska’s prose, spiced with a large pinch of surreal wonder, the poetic terseness of Laurie Anderson vies with the humour of Hitchcock’s films, and the eye of the voyeur is a window on a world where everything is brimming over with a surfeit of meanings, mysteries and possibilities.”
Marek Zaleski

Bibliography

  • Polubić muzykę country. Dziennik amerykańskiej podróży, Warszawa: NOWA, 1995
  • W malinowym dżemie, Warszawa: Wydawnictwo małe, 1995
  • Senny żywot Leonory de la Cruz, Gdańsk: słowo/obraz terytoria, 2004 (II wydanie rozszerzone 2011)
  • Abecadło Topora, Warszawa: W.A.B., 2005
  • Okruchy amerykańskie, Warszawa: Twój Styl, 2006
  • Spiskowcy wyobraźni. Surrealizm, Gdańsk: słowo/obraz terytoria, 2007
  • Szalony zegar, Warszawa: Twój Styl, 2008
  • Księżycowe duchy, Warszawa: Twój Styl, 2008
  • Czarna Góra, Warszawa: Twój Styl, 2008
  • Blues Nosorożca, Warszawa: Twój Styl, 2008
  • Wieloryb, czyli przypadek obiektywny, Wołowiec: Czarne, 2010
  • Niedokończone życie Phoebe Hicks, Gdańsk: słowo/obraz tertoria, 2013
  • Nie tak jak w raju, Warszawa: Austeria, 2013.
  • Licho i inni, Lesko: BOSZ, 2014

Translations:

English:

  • The Dreaming Life of Leonora de la Cruz [Senny żywot Leonory de la Cruz], trans. Danusia Stok, New York: Midmarch Arts Press, 2007

French:

  • La vie songeuse de Leonora de la Cruz [Senny żywot Leonory de la Cruz], trans. Véronique Patte, Paris: Editions Interférences, 2007

German:

  • Die ausgetickte Uhr [Szalony Zegar], trans. Klaus Staemmler, Düsseldorf: Patmos, 1994
  • Die Mondgeister [Księżycowe duchy], trans. Klaus Staemmler, Düsseldorf: Patmos, 1996
  • Der Fischer auf dem Meeresgrund [Rybak na dnie morza], trans. Maiken Nielsen, Düsseldorf: Patmos, 1997

Japanese:

  • Czarna Góra, Unzen: Unzen Kankyo Kyokai, 2001

Korean:

  • Rybak na dnie morza, Pestalozzi: Seho, 2000

Spanish:

  • La vida soñolienta de Leonora de la Cruz [Senny żywot Leonory de la Cruz], transl. Xavier Farré, Mexico: AUIEO, 2014