Olga Tokarczuk Primeval and Other Times

ISBN 13: 9788086264356

Primeval and Other Times

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Set in the mythical Polish village of Primeval, a microcosm of the world populated by eccentric, archetypal characters and guarded by four archangels, the novel chronicles the lives of the inhabitants over the course of the feral 20th century in prose that is forceful, direct, and the stylistic cousin of the magic realism in Gabriel García Márquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude. Told in short bursts of "Time," the narrative takes the form of a stylized fable, an epic allegory about the inexorable grind of time and the clash between modernity (the masculine) and nature (the feminine) in which Poland's tortured political history from 1914 to the contemporary era and the episodic brutality visited on ordinary village life is played out. A novel of universal dimension that does not dwell on the parochial, Primeval and Other Times was awarded the Koscielski Foundation Prize in 1997, which established Tokarczuk as one of the leading voices in Polish letters. It has been translated into many languages throughout the world and hailed as a contemporary European classic. ― Tokarczuk has said of the novel: "I always wanted to write a book such as this. One that creates and describes a world. It is the story of a world that, like all things living, is born, develops, and then perishes." Kitchens, bedrooms, childhood memories, dreams and insomnia, reminiscences, and amnesia ― these are part of the existential and acoustic spaces from which the voices of Tokarczuk's tale come, her "boxes in boxes."

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About the Author:

Olga Tokarczuk was born in 1962 in Sulechów near Zielona Góra, Poland. A recipient of all of Poland's top literary awards, she is one of the most critically acclaimed authors of her generation. After finishing her psychology degree at the University of Warsaw, she initially practiced as a therapist and often cites C.G. Jung as an inspiration for her work, in which mythmaking has become a hallmark.

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The Time of Primeval Primeval is the place at the centre of the universe. To walk at a brisk pace across Primeval from north to south would take an hour, and the same from east to west. And if someone wanted to go right round Primeval, at a slow pace, taking a careful, considered look at everything, it would take him a whole day, from morning to evening. To the north the border of Primeval is the road from Taszów to Kielce, busy and dangerous, because it arouses the anxiety of travel. The Archangel Raphael protects this border. To the south the town of Jeszkotle marks the border, with its church, old people's home and low-rise tenements surrounding a muddy marketplace. The town presents a threat because it arouses the desire to possess and be possessed. The Archangel Gabriel guards Primeval on the town side. From south to north, from Jeszkotle to the Kielce road runs the Highway, with Primeval lying on either side of it. On the western border of Primeval there are wet riverside meadows, a bit of forest, and a manor house. Next to the manor house there's a stud farm, where a single horse costs as much as the whole of Primeval. The horses belong to the Squire, and the meadows to the parish priest. The danger on the western border is of sinking into conceit. The Archangel Michael guards this border. To the east the border of Primeval is the White River, which separates its territory from Taszów's. Then the White River turns towards a mill, while the border runs on alone, through common land, between alder bushes. The danger on this side is foolishness, arising from a desire to be too clever. Here the Archangel Uriel guards the border. At the centre of Primeval God has raised a large hill, onto which each summer the maybugs swarm down, so people have named it Maybug Hill. For it is God's business to create, and people's business to name. From the north-west the Black River runs south, joining the White River below the mill. The Black River is deep and dark. It flows through the forest, and the forest reflects its shaggy face in it. Dry leaves sail along the Black River, and careless insects fight for life in its eddies. The Black River tangles with tree roots and washes away at the forest. Sometimes whirlpools form on its dark surface, for the river can be angry and unbridled. Every year in late spring it spills onto the priest's meadows and basks there in the sunshine, letting the frogs multiply by the thousand. The priest battles with it all summer...

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