Literary novel
Rafał Wojasiński

What is the goal of this pilgrimage of meaning?

All of civilisation is made up of evidence like this… Everything comes to us secondhand… Reason, knowledge, faith… What the dead have left behind I collect, out of love… No one else does that in our city. And I doubt it’ll become tradition. It’ll die with me. It’ll get consumed by the mysterious and benevolent transformations taking place underground. Incapacitated.

I can’t resist the clothes the dead have left behind. They call to me, tame a lifeless element inside me. I’ve got this pair of trousers that’ve lived with me for thirty years. Their owner is nothing now but white bones, still I don’t know how to get rid of these trousers. They keep being nice to me. I put on weight but they stay nice, they fit me. Buying clothes in the size we’re dealing with now would be some kind of mental catastrophe.

The clothes the dead have left behind give me a sense of safety that I don’t get from either money or living people. People take away my sense of safety, they come and take it away, threatening me with their needs, their wisdom, threatening me with the truth they’re frenziedly searching for, they exhaust me with their terroristic need for success and for lengthening their days, with their looking after their health, with their prudence, they crush me with their scrimping on life for the sake of death. The clothes of the dead wrap around me, protect me from a world of evil spirits, like talismans. And I feel at home in them. I take possession of someone’s jacket and I become nothing less than its fulfillment. In the evening I can slip along Garbarska Street as if I weren’t there, I can turn left or right. That’s how I attain my joy of joys.

It truly pains me that I can only exist in this city, in clothes the dead have left behind, with no possibility of leaving Litental’s maze of streets. I’m not leaving here, leaving would mean losing the only chance I’ve got. No getting out of Litental. That’s my most important instruction in life. My thinking grows saturated with the beauty of the sky, the wind, the smell of the pavements after rain, solitary walks in the evening, barely lit corner shops and clothing stores, stairwells and courtyards, where you can find objects no longer needed, abandoned. Nothing gives me as much hope as what’s been abandoned, left behind. A hope that I don’t know how to share with others.

I don’t want to leave here. For me, life outside this town would mean annihilation. Outside town there is annihilation. Fighting. And fighting bores me, destroys my brain, destroys my sense of self, destroys everything that’s good in me. Fighting totally kills off everything I’ve loved, everything I really could have loved, fighting is betrayal. We have become mediocrities, because without fighting we don’t know how to survive year after year, we’re mediocrities because we have to run ourselves into the ground.

Existence outside this town would be an unbearable torment for me. I’d fall into a series of even deeper delusions, falsehoods and counterfeits. The reality of existence outside this town would strip me of reason. Litental is the only path my life has. Everywhere outside Litental is unbearable, repellent provincialism. I am not leaving Litental.

Excerpt translated by Sean Gasper Bye

Literary novel
Rafał Wojasiński

What is the goal of this pilgrimage of meaning?

Publisher: Nisza, Warszawa 2022
Translation rights: Rafał Wojasiński,
Foreign language translations: Bulgaria, Croatia, Spain, the UK

Tefil is the first name of the main character of this short novel, made up mainly of a monologue by Tefil himself. We listen to his claims, of prophethood perhaps, for we get a great deal of serious- sounding wisdom about the essence of life. But we also hear a lot of ostentatious clichés, so maybe instead we’re witnessing one of those pitiable oneman- shows performed by the aged and afflicted on the tram or out in front of the off license. Tefil’s narrative language – intricate, intellectual, sometimes poetic, rhythmic, conscious of its form – seems out of step with the character of an elderly vagabond, but it also sounds convincing and tempts us to surrender to his persuasive power. It is the reader, as the true addressees of this modern Diogenes, who must therefore decide whether to trust this character and the subjects he treats, or keep a sceptical distance.

We see an ageless man, living in a nearly undefined, though surely European, provincial town, finding for himself a patient listener who invites him to dinner at the area’s only, and therefore “famous”, restaurant. The listener does not speak, but the listener’s presence provokes the speaker. Over a pork cutlet and a beer, Tefil puts on trial a defectively constructed world, though as the sole and necessary one, it is therefore ultimately… beautiful. He diagnoses and condemns with such conviction, it seems he has experienced everything that is important, considered it deeply and finally had a flash of revelation. Later, the two characters will wander the town, its ugly streets transforming into a maze of archetypal signs, as Dublin was for the twentieth-century incarnation of Ulysses, or a map of the simplest symbols of human fate, as the hero of Hrabal’s tales discovered in Prague.

What is the goal of this pilgrimage of meaning? The euphoria of constant beginning. The condition of knowing the world fully without that getting in the way of life itself. As this small-town philosopher sums up his lecture: “all-encompassing, eternal and unyielding ignorance.” Wojasiński has noticed Tefil where we have not, gained wisdom from him and proclaimed it to the attentive.

Artur Grabowski

Translated by Sean Gasper Bye

Selected samples

Julita Deluga
Wojtek Wawszczyk, Tomasz Leśniak
Anna Kańtoch
Andrzej Bobkowski
Wisława Szymborska
Zdzisław Kranodębski
Andrzej Nowak
Wiesław Myśliwski
Jarosław Jakubowski
Anna Piwkowska
Roman Honet
Miłosz Biedrzycki
Wojciech Chmielewski
Aleksandra Majdzińska
Tomasz Różycki
Maciej Hen
Jakub Nowak
Elżbieta Cherezińska
歐菈·沃丹斯卡-波欽斯卡(Ola Woldańska-Płocińska)
作者:沃伊切赫·維德瓦克(Wojciech Widłak), 插圖:亞歷珊德拉·克珊諾夫斯卡(Aleksandra Krzanowska)
文字:莫妮卡·烏特尼-斯特魯加瓦(Monika Utnik-Strugała), 概念和插圖:皮歐特·索哈(Piotr Socha)
作者:亞格涅絲卡·斯特爾馬什克(Agnieszka Stelmaszyk)
尤安娜·日斯卡(Joanna Rzyska)、阿嘉妲·杜德克(Agata Dudek)、瑪格熱妲·諾瓦克(Małgorzata Nowak) Druganoga出版社,華沙2021
艾麗莎·皮歐特夫斯卡(Eliza Piotrowska)
米科瓦伊·帕辛斯基(Mikołaj Pasiński)、瑪格熱妲·赫爾巴(Gosia Herba)
歐菈·沃丹斯卡-波欽斯卡(Ola Woldańska-Płocińska)
瑪麗安娜·奧克雷亞克(Marianna Oklejak)
拉法爾·科希克(Rafał Kosik)
亞歷珊德拉·沃丹斯卡-波欽斯卡(Aleksandra Woldańska-Płocińska)
巴托米耶·伊格納邱克(Bartłomiej Ignaciuk), 阿嘉塔·洛特-伊格納邱克(Agata Loth-Ignaciuk)
文字和插圖:皮歐特·卡爾斯基(Piotr Karski)
文字和插圖:皮歐特·卡爾斯基(Piotr Karski)
羅珊娜·延澤耶夫斯卡-弗魯貝爾 (Roksana Jędrzejewska-Wróbel)
作者:普舎米斯瓦夫·維赫特洛維奇(Przemysław Wechterowicz) 插圖:艾米莉·吉烏巴克(Emilia Dziubak)
尤斯提娜·貝納雷(Justyna Bednarek) 插圖:丹尼爾·德拉圖爾(Daniel De Latour)
尤安娜·巴托西克(Joanna Bartosik)
瑪格熱妲·斯文多夫斯卡(Małgorzata Swędrowska)、尤安娜·巴托西克(Joanna Bartosik)
Jan Kochanowski
Jarosław Marek Rymkiewicz
Olga Tokarczuk
Władysław Stanisław Reymont
An Ancient Tale
Stanisław Rembek
Elżbieta Cherezińska
Henryk Sienkiewicz
Maria Dąbrowska
Stefan Żeromski
Bronisław Wildstein
Zbigniew Herbert / Wisława Szymborska
Karol Wojtyła
Wiesław Myśliwski
Czesław Miłosz
Anna Świrszczyńska / Melchior Wańkowicz
Tadeusz Borowski / Gustaw Herling-Grudziński
Wiesław Helak
Góra Tabor
Adriana Szymańska
Paweł Rzewuski
Mariusz Staniszewski
Radek Rak
Urszula Honek
Kazimierz Orłoś
Rafał Wojasiński
Antonina Grzegorzewska
Józef Mackiewicz
Tobiasz Piątkowski, Marek Oleksicki
Daniel Odija
Bronisław Wildstein
Józef Mackiewicz
Józef Mackiewicz
Witold Szabłowski
Andrzej Muszyński
Wiesław Helak
Bartosz Jastrzębski
Dariusz Sośnicki
Łukasz Orbitowski
Jakub Małecki
אנדז'יי ספקובסקי
Elżbieta Cherezińska
Wiesław Myśliwski
Jakub Małecki
Aleksandra Lipczak
Jacek Dukaj
Wit Szostak
Bartosz Biedrzycki
Zyta Rudzka
Maciej Płaza
Wojciech Chmielewski
Paweł Huelle
Przemysław "Trust" Truściński
Angelika Kuźniak
Wojciech Kudyba
Michał Protasiuk
Stanisław Rembek
Krzysztof Karasek
Elżbieta Isakiewicz
Artur Daniel Liskowacki
Jarosław Jakubowski
Zbigniew Stawrowski
Szczepan Twardoch
Wojciech Chmielarz
Robert Małecki
Zygmunt Miłoszewski
Anna Piwkowska
Dominika Słowik
Wojciech Chmielewski
Barbara Banaś
Rafał Mikołajczyk
Jerzy Szymik
Waldemar Bawołek
Julia Fiedorczuk
Jakub Szamałek
Witold Szabłowski
Jacek Dukaj
Grzegorz Górny, Janusz Rosikoń
Paweł Piechnik
Andrzej Strumiłło


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Piotr Mitzner
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Wacław Holewiński
Anna Potyra
Wiesław Helak
Urszula Zajączkowska
Marek Stokowski
Hubert Klimko-Dobrzaniecki
Jakub Małecki
Łukasz Orbitowski
Małgorzata Rejmer
Rafał Wojasiński
Wojciech Kudyba
Włodzimierz Bolecki
Jerzy Liebert
Wojciech Zembaty
Wojciech Chmielarz
Bogdan Musiał
Joanna Siedlecka
Krzysztof Tyszka-Drozdowski
Jarosław Marek Rymkiewicz
Marek Bieńczyk
Leszek Elektorowicz
Adrian Sinkowski
Szymon Babuchowski
Lech Majewski
Weronika Murek
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Barbara Klicka
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Ks. Tomasz Stępień

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Szczepan Twardoch
Wiesław Helak
Maria Wilczek-Krupa
Anna Kańtoch
Rafał Kosik
Paweł Sołtys
Dorota Masłowska
Wiesław Myśliwski
Martyna Bunda
Olga Tokarczuk
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Waldemar Bawołek
Marek Oleksicki, Tobiasz Piątkowski
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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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