More Polish enthusiasms

The coming months will be boom times for Polish literature in English.  First July brought us the publication of Jerzy Pilch’s dizzying satire, A Thousand Peaceful Cities, excerpted on Little Star online.  Next Ecco springs Zbigniew Herbert’s Collected Prose upon us in August, and September will see new translations of Wislawa Szymborska by Clare Cavanagh and the great Stanislaw Baranczak.  Baranczak was himself the author of a landmark study of Herbert, and Brodsky regarded Baranczak’s translations of his own poems from Russian into Polish with reverence. Then in December Norton will publish new translations of Tadeusz Rozewicz, with a forward by Edward Hirsch.  Although Rozewicz has appeared relatively sparsely in English (Archipelago published volume of translations in 2007, and there was a substantial group in Milosz’s epochal anthology, Postwar Polish Poetry, among other sporadic appearances), he is often considered within Poland to be a member of the Pleiade that includes Milosz, Herbert, Zagajewski, and Szymborska. (The compression and austerity of his work may have resisted the sympathetic translation that has made the other four such influential presences in English.)  Rounding out the group, Zagajewski’s most recent collection appeared in paperback a year ago in March, and a year ago April Bloodaxe published translations of the poet Tomas Venclova, who, although he writes in neighboring Lithuanian, is cousin to this family in his sensibilities as well as his personal history. Little Star is dizzy at the prospect, and we hope to revisit this marvelous convergence as the autumn unfolds.

Read our taste from A Thousand Peaceful Cities, by Jerzy Pilch, here

Read “The Blood of Thought,” an essay on Hamlet by Zbigniew Herbert, here

Read “Leonardo’s Disquiet,” an essay on Leonardo da Vinci by Zbigniew Herbert, here


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