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On August 1, 1944, Miron Białoszewski, later to gain renown as one of Poland’s most innovative poets, went out to run an errand for his mother and ran into history. With Soviet forces on the outskirts of Warsaw, the Polish capital revolted against five years of Nazi occupation, an uprising that began in a spirit of heroic optimism. Sixty-three days later it came to a tragic end. The Nazis suppressed the insurgents ruthlessly, reducing Warsaw to rubble while slaughtering some 200,000 people, mostly through mass executions. The Red Army simply looked on.
Białoszewski’s blow-by-blow account of the uprising brings it alive in all its desperate urgency. Here we are in the shoes of a young man slipping back and forth under German fire, dodging sniper bullets, collapsing with exhaustion, rescuing the wounded, burying the dead. An indispensable and unforgettable act of witness, A Memoir of the Warsaw Uprising is also a major work of literature. Białoszewski writes in short, stabbing, splintered, breathless sentences attuned to “the glaring identity of ‘now.’” His pages are full of a white-knuckled poetry that resists the very destruction it records.
Madeline G. Levine has extensively revised her 1977 translation, and passages that were unpublishable in Communist Poland have been restored.
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Miron Białoszewski (1922–1983) was born in Warsaw, the son of a postal clerk. During the German occupation of Poland in World War II, he studied Polish literature in an underground school, though he never obtained any kind of degree. Not a combatant, he was deported to a German work camp following the Warsaw Uprising, escaped after a month and, as the war drew to its end, returned to his devastated city. Białoszewski worked as a journalist, writing poetry at night, though it was not until 1956 that his first volume of poetry, Obroty rzeczy (The Revolution of Things), appeared to great acclaim. Additional volumes of poetry and short prose texts followed, while Białoszewski also wrote plays for and acted with the collaborative and experimental Tarczyńska Street Theater. A Memoir of the Warsaw Uprising came out in 1970.
Madeline G. Levine is Kenan Professor of Slavic Literatures Emerita at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Her translations from the Polish include The Woman from Hamburg and Other True Stories by Hanna Krall, Bread for the Departed by Bogdan Wojdowski, four volumes of prose by Czesław Miłosz including Beginning with My Streets: Essays and Recollections and Miłosz’s ABC’s, and a new English version of the collected stories of Bruno Schulz (forthcoming).
Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Polish
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Book Description Ardis. Hardcover. Condition: New. 0882332759 New Condition. Seller Inventory # NEW7.0481830
Book Description Ardis, 1977. Hardcover. Condition: New. Never used!. Seller Inventory # P110882332759