Classic
Modern Classics
Józef Łobodowski
Ukrainian Trilogy: Thickets, The Settlement, The Way Back

By an eulogist of Ukraine, fascinated by the East

The speaker broke off, tossed an unruly lock of hair from his forehead, and again raised his arm toward the crowd.

“Comrades, the victorious Revolution has no wish to restrict Cossack freedoms. Let them stay in their settlements as their fathers and grandfathers did before them. But they must share their excess grain with the city to help the starving poor! The blood that’s been spilled will be avenged. Tomorrow, over the coffins of our comrades, we will offer up an unbreakable, iron Bolshevik vow to do our utmost to ensure that, from this spilled blood, a new dawn of universal freedom, equality, and brotherhood will rise…”

“Gennari,” whispered Staś, nudging Aszwajanc. “What a pretty little song he sings. He’s already forgotten how he licked Markov’s boots so his officers wouldn’t put him up against the wall… Your father just barely saved him…

“Comrades!” the speaker thundered on, “We will not allow these hundreds of thousands of victims, tortured to death, crushed by penal servitude, massacred at the front of imperialistic wars, these victims who perished at the hands of white counterrevolutionaries, to have died in vain. Our answer to the last gasp of the mortally wounded general scum is the answer we learned from the leaders and creators of the Revolution, Karl Marx, Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, and Leon Trotsky. Down with the international bourgeoisie! Down with imperialist intervention! Down with generals, bankers, and industrialists! Down with White Poles! (…)

The Internationale once again blared from the windows of the Executive Committee building. Another speaker stepped forward to address the swaying audience.

The heavens were ablaze with constellations as the two friends elbowed their way through the thinning crowd in the direction of Taganrogska Street. Suddenly, someone called Staś’s name. The odor of vodka wafted into his face. Professor Wasiliew clamped a hand on his shoulder and, leaning in, rasped,

“Tell Piotr Zdzisławowicz that the Bolsheviks were defeated near Warsaw. Understand, this comes from a reliable source. Most people don’t know yet. But it’s true. Kamieniew, Tukhachevsky, Budyonny, they’ve all been crushed. The Polish counteroffensive, backed up by French tanks and black divisions from Senegal. The Red bastard throws down his weapon and flees the front. Now Piłsudski will join forces with Wrangel. We’re back on our feet in Okhtyrka. The settlements are rising up. It’s the end of the Bolsheviks. (…)”

Wasiliew reeled and bellowed,

“Long live freedom! Long live free Poland!” One of the men passing by stopped.

“His Poland’s already been liberated. He’s drunk and talking nonsense. They’ve been in Warsaw two weeks and haven’t taken her yet.”

Staś arranged to meet Aszwajanc the next and dashed toward home. (…) At his violent banging on the shutters, his terrified mother darted to the door.

He rushed into the room and, trying to catch his breath, triumphantly managed to squeeze out,

“Warsaw is free! The entire Bolshevik front is beaten!”

Excerpt translated by Megan Thomas

Classic
Modern Classics
Józef Łobodowski
Ukrainian Trilogy: Thickets, The Settlement, The Way Back

By an eulogist of Ukraine, fascinated by the East

The work of Józef Łobodowski (1909-1988) – a remarkable poet, prose writer, and translator, who spent most of his life in exile – is slowly being revived in Poland. Łobodowski’s brilliant three- volume novel, composed on an epic scale, concerns the fate of families and orphans unmoored by the Bolshevik Revolution and civil war and scattered across the stretches of the former Russian empire. The plot frequently involves a teenager who is working to support his entire family. He hawks homemade rotgut and cigarettes, robs and steals, and gets into fights with police officers and Chekists alike. His companions do not fear death, only the Dzietdom – the orphanage in which sadistic caretakers exact their charges’ obedience through ruthless psychological and physical terror.

The novel’s hero (almost a stand-in for the author) is a Pole named Staś Majewski, who attaches himself to a group of young thugs when legal methods of earning a living start to dry up. The novel’s action proceeds at breakneck speed across Russia – from Yeysk on the Sea of Azov to Rostov-on-Don. After Tukhachevsky’s defeat at Warsaw, the Red Terror escalates and Staś must flee – first to the titular thickets on the marshlands, then to the steppes, then to the Cossack settlements. There, he finds some vestiges of freedom, along with friends of Staś’s father, who are able to repay him for earlier deeds. A crucial thread of the novel, replete with bold eroticism, is an unsuccessful attempt to reconstruct – referencing Cossack history – a free Zaporozhian Republic. An idyllic stay with the Cossacks ends in a life-and-death battle with Communists; the struggle on both sides constitutes the most significant part of the trilogy. If, after escaping the besieged settlement, Staś had not been late boarding the ship of repatriates, everything would have turned out differently. Once you start this novel, you won’t be able to tear yourself away.

Publisher: Wydawnictwo Test, Lublin 2018
Translation rights: Wydawnictwo Test, test.bn@wp.eu

The work of Józef Łobodowski (1909-1988) – a remarkable poet, prose writer, and translator, who spent most of his life in exile – is slowly being revived in Poland. Łobodowski’s brilliant three- volume novel, composed on an epic scale, concerns the fate of families and orphans unmoored by the Bolshevik Revolution and civil war and scattered across the stretches of the former Russian empire. The plot frequently involves a teenager who is working to support his entire family. He hawks homemade rotgut and cigarettes, robs and steals, and gets into fights with police officers and Chekists alike. His companions do not fear death, only the Dzietdom – the orphanage in which sadistic caretakers exact their charges’ obedience through ruthless psychological and physical terror.

The novel’s hero (almost a stand-in for the author) is a Pole named Staś Majewski, who attaches himself to a group of young thugs when legal methods of earning a living start to dry up. The novel’s action proceeds at breakneck speed across Russia – from Yeysk on the Sea of Azov to Rostov-on-Don. After Tukhachevsky’s defeat at Warsaw, the Red Terror escalates and Staś must flee – first to the titular thickets on the marshlands, then to the steppes, then to the Cossack settlements. There, he finds some vestiges of freedom, along with friends of Staś’s father, who are able to repay him for earlier deeds. A crucial thread of the novel, replete with bold eroticism, is an unsuccessful attempt to reconstruct – referencing Cossack history – a free Zaporozhian Republic. An idyllic stay with the Cossacks ends in a life-and-death battle with Communists; the struggle on both sides constitutes the most significant part of the trilogy. If, after escaping the besieged settlement, Staś had not been late boarding the ship of repatriates, everything would have turned out differently. Once you start this novel, you won’t be able to tear yourself away.

Jerzy Gizella, translated by Megan Thomas

Publisher: Wydawnictwo Test, Lublin 2018
Translation rights: Wydawnictwo Test, test.bn@wp.eu

Selected samples

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Łukasz Orbitowski
Orbitowski
Małgorzata Rejmer
Rejmer
Rafał Wojasiński
Olanda
Wojciech Kudyba
Kudyba
Włodzimierz Bolecki
Bolecki
Jerzy Liebert
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Wojciech Zembaty
Zembaty
Wojciech Chmielarz
Chmielarz
Bogdan Musiał
Musiał
Joanna Siedlecka
Siedlecka
Krzysztof Tyszka-Drozdowski
Drozdowski
Jarosław Marek Rymkiewicz
Marek Bieńczyk
Bienczyk
Leszek Elektorowicz
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Adrian Sinkowski
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Szymon Babuchowski
Babuchowski
Lech Majewski
Majewski
Weronika Murek
Murek
Agnieszka Świętek
Swietek
Stanisław Szukalski
Barbara Klicka
Klicka
Anna Kamińska

She climbed her first peaks in a headscarf at a time when women in the mountains were treated by climbers as an additional backpack. It was with her that female alpinism began! She gained recognition in a spectacular way. The path was considered a crossing for madmen. Especially since the tragic accident in 1929, preserved … Continue reading “Halina”

Wojciech Chmielarz

First, Marysia, a student of an exclusive private school in Warsaw’s Mokotów district, dies under the wheels of a train. Her teacher, Elżbieta, tries to find out what really happened. She starts a private investigation only soon to perish herself. But her body disappears, and the only people who have seen anything are Gniewomir, a … Continue reading “Wound”

Anna Kańtoch

A young girl, Regina Wieczorek, was found dead on the beach. She was nineteen years old and had no enemies. Fortunately, the culprit was quickly found. At least, that’s what the militia think. Meanwhile, one day in November, Jan Kowalski appears at the police station. He claims to have killed not only Regina but also … Continue reading “Penance”

Marek Krajewski

The year is 1922. A dangerous time of breakthrough. In the Eastern Borderlands of the Republic of Poland, Bolshevik gangs sow terror, leaving behind the corpses of men and disgraced women. A ruthless secret intelligence race takes place between the Lviv-Warsaw-Free City of Gdańsk line. Lviv investigator Edward Popielski, called Łysy (“Hairless”), receives an offer … Continue reading “A Girl with Four Fingers”

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This question is closely related to the next one, namely: if any goal exists, does life lead us to that goal in an orderly manner? In other words, is everything that happens to us just a set of chaotic events that, combined together, do not form a whole? To understand how the concept of providence … Continue reading “Order and Love”

Jakub Małecki
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Wiesław Helak
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Anna Kańtoch
Rafał Kosik
Paweł Sołtys
Dorota Masłowska
Wiesław Myśliwski
Martyna Bunda
Olga Tokarczuk
Various authors
Mariola Kruszewska
Waldemar Bawołek
Marek Oleksicki, Tobiasz Piątkowski
Wojciech Tomczyk
Urszula Zajączkowska
Marzanna Bogumiła Kielar
Ks. Robert Skrzypczak
Bronisław Wildstein
Anna Bikont
Magdalena Grzebałkowska
Wojciech Orliński
Klementyna Suchanow
Andrzej Franaszek
Natalia Budzyńska
Marian Sworzeń
Aleksandra Wójcik, Maciej Zdziarski
Józef Łobodowski

The work of Józef Łobodowski (1909-1988) – a remarkable poet, prose writer, and translator, who spent most of his life in exile – is slowly being revived in Poland. Łobodowski’s brilliant three- volume novel, composed on an epic scale, concerns the fate of families and orphans unmoored by the Bolshevik Revolution and civil war and … Continue reading “Ukrainian Trilogy: Thickets, The Settlement, The Way Back”

Piotr Zaremba
Wacław Holewiński
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