Bill Johnston Interview Glossary

Andrzejewski, Jerzy (1909-1983)
Postwar novelist most famous for
Ashes and Diamonds, which was adapted into a very good film. His works can be found in English relatively easily.

Berent, Wacław (1873-1940)
Novelist and translator, none of his works are currently available in English.

Borowski, Tadeusz (1922-1951)
One of the most depressing biographies ever. Born in Soviet territory, both his parents were sent to the Gulag in the 1920’s. Borowski then emigrated to Poland. In 1943 he was arrested by the Germans and sent first to Auschwitz, then later to Dachau. He worked for a time as a slave laborer unloading trains full of Jews who were then transported directly to the gas chamber. These experiences led to his writing his most famous work, a collection of inter-connected stories called
This Way For The Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen. After the war he tried his hand at being a Communist Party hack, hated it, and gassed himself to death in his kitchen at the age of 28. This Way For The Gas… is widely available and should honestly be read by every literate human.

Dąbrowska, Maria (1889-1965)
Novelist, playwright and journalist. Not only are her works not available in English, precious little information of any kind can be found.

Gojawiczyńska, Pola (1896-1963)
Novelist and screenwriter, her books are not available in English and her movies are likewise difficult to find.

Gombrowicz, Witold (1904-1969)
Novelist, playwright, and diarist, spent the years from 1939 until his death in exile, first in Argentina, then in France. Among the most important writers in Polish history. His works, such as
Ferdydurke, Cosmos, and Bacacay are widely available in English.

Herbert, Zbigniew (1924-1998)
Postwar poet of immense stature, a wonderful new edition of his collected poetry, translated by Alissa Valles, has just been published this year.

Herling, Gustav (1919-2000)
Postwar essayist, story writer, etc. His books have been published in English recently and can be easily found. I can especially recommend Bill’s translation of
The Noonday Cemetery.

Kochanowski, Jan (1530-1584)
Renaissance poet, considered the “Father” of Polish literature. Major works include
Laments, and The Dismissal of the Greek Envoys, a tragedy in blank verse, both of which are available in English.

Krasczinski, Zygmunt
I couldn’t find any information about this person anywhere. Either I misspelled his name or Bill made him up.

Mickiewicz, Adam (1798-1855)
A towering presence in Polish letters even today, author of the epic
Pan Tadeusz and a great many ballads (one of which can be found in the current issue of this journal) and other books of poetry, plays, and prose. Pan Tadeusz and a collection of his love poems can be found for very little money.

Miłosz, Czesław (1911-2004)
The most widely known Polish poet in the West, winner of the 1980 Nobel Prize. His books are literally lying around all over the place.

Nałkowska, Zofia (1884-1954)
Novelist/dramatist/essayist and early ally of Bruno Schulz. The first woman member of the Polish Academy of Literature. Her diary of the war, published as Wartime Diary is an elusive book in English. After the war she became rather active politically, which led to the writing of Medallions, a story collection dealing with the Holocaust, this is currently her only book on the English market.

Prus, Bolesław (1847-1912)
Journalist and novelist, author of
The Doll and Pharaoh, both of which are available in English.

Rej, Mikołaj (1505-1569)
Prominent Renaissance poet, nobleman, politician, musician, and translator. Major works include
The Merchant; The Zodiac; and The Mirror. Currently unavailable in English translation.

Schulz, Bruno (1892-1942)
Story writer and visual artist, he produced only two short books of stories in his lifetime,
Street of Crocodiles and Sanatorium Under the Sign of the Hourglass, both of which can be gotten hold of easily. A book of his very wonderful drawings can be had for around forty dollars. It was his drawing ability that led to Schulz, who was Jewish, being protected by a German officer when the Nazi’s occupied his hometown. Another German officer, a rival of Schulz’s protector, shot Bruno dead on the street.

Sienkiewicz, Henryk (1846-1916)
Essentially the James Michener of Polish letters. Won the Nobel Prize in 1905.
Quo Vadis is available, though I cannot recommend it to any but the masochistic among us.

Słowacki, Juliusz (1809-1849)
Rather intense Romantic poet and playwright, largely unavailable in English at this time. (Hey, you, translate some of this guy’s poems and send them to us!!!)

Szymborska, Wisława (born 1923)
Winner of the 1996 Nobel Prize, prominent almost to the point of ubiquity, you probably got a book by her for your birthday last year.

Wikiewicz, Stanisław Ignacy (1885-1939)
All purpose literary/artistic hooligan, known especially for his many plays, and his novel Insatiability. In 1939, while fleeing eastward from the German army, he learned of the Russian invasion and committed suicide. Two small books of his plays are available and affordable in English. His novel and other works by and about him are available, though most top the hundred-dollar figure in price.

Wyspiański, Stanisław (1869-1907)
Poet/painter/playwright/glass designer/architect and (according to Wikipedia) cabinetmaker. Leading figure in the Young Poland movement. His most important play, "The Wedding," is available though very rare in English. His visual work can be found on the Internet and is most definitely worth seeing.

Żeromski, Stefan (1864-1925)
Bill pretty much covered the bases on this guy. Two of his novels,
The Faithful River and Coming Spring can be gotten cheaply and ought to be read.

Johnston, Bill (translation bibliography)
Magdalena Tulli: Blemish. Archipelago Books. In progress.
Eugeniusz Tkaczyszyn-Dycki: Fugitive. Zephyr Books. In progress.
Stefan Żeromski: The Coming Spring. Central European University Press. In press.
Jan Kochanowski: The Envoys. Księgarnia Akademicka. In press.
Juliusz Słowacki: Balladina. Under review.
Tadeusz Różewicz: New Poems. Archipelago Books. 2007.
Andrzej Stasiuk: Nine. Harcourt Brace. 2007.
The Song of Igor’s Campaign (from Old Russian). Ugly Duckling Presse. 2006.
Magdalena Tulli: Moving Parts. Archipelago Books. 2005.
Krzysztof Kamil Baczyński: White Magic and Other Poems. Green Integer. 2005.
Witold Gombrowicz: Polish Memories. Yale University Press. 2004.
Witold Gombrowicz: Bacacay. Archipelago Books. 2004.
Magdalena Tulli: Dreams and Stones. Archipelago Books. 2004.
Gustaw Herling: The Noonday Cemetery and Other Stories. New York, NY: New Directions. 2003.
Jerzy Pilch: His Current Woman. Northwestern University Press/Hydra. 2002.
Stefan Żeromski: The Faithful River. Northwestern University Press. 1999.
Andrzej Szczypiorski: The Shadow Catcher. Grove Press. 1997.
Bolesław Prus: The Sins of Childhood and Other Stories. Northwestern University Press. 1996.
Maria Hochberg-Mariańska, Noe Grüss (Eds.): The Children Accuse. Vallentine Mitchell. 1996.
Andrzej Szczypiorski: Self-Portrait with Woman. Grove Press. 1995.


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