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Andrzej Bart

Andrzej Bart, November 2009, photo by Marek Dusza
Andrzej Bart, November 2009, photo by Marek Dusza

Andrzej Bart is a prose writer, screenwriter, and documentary filmmaker. His actual name is Andrzej Bart-Sołtysiak, and he was born on 1st January, 1951 in Wrocław.

He is considered to be one of the most interesting novelists in Poland, even though he doesn't seek media attention and fame. He has published several books under his own name: Rien ne va plus (1991), Pociąg do podróży (The Travel Bug, 1999), and Don Juan raz jeszcze (Don Juan Revisited, 2006) – for which he was nominated for the Nike Literary Award in 2007. He also published a metaphysical and humorous crime novel, Piąty jeździec Apokalipsy (The Fifth Rider of the Apocalypse, 1999), under the pen name Paul Scarron Jr. His books have been translated into many languages, including French, Hebrew, German, Russian, Slovenian, and Hungarian. 

In 1991, he received the prestigious Kościelscy Award for his debut novel Rien ne va plus, a story of the conscious portrait of an Italian Libertine, which observes Polish fate for two hundred years. Years later, Igor Stokfiszewski wrote: 

It would be hard to notice that Rien ne va plus - as every well-made postmodern novel - is as serious in its theme, as it is ironically written and its plot will amaze even the most picky of fiction readers. 

The plot of Pociąg do podróży / The Travel Bug is also full of vigor and it is based on the classical motif of travel in time: two American agents living in contemporary times, are sent to early XX century Vienna with a mission to kill young Hitler. This idea taken from political fiction might seem trivial, but Bart quickly turns the events upside down, shifting beetween historical morality play and adventure novel. At the same time he has a great ability to describe cities where the action takes place. 

His Vienna, Paris, not to mention Łódź (and all of these cities from a hundred years ago!) seem distinct and characteristic, even though the writer doesn't use much descriptive language. Protagonists from the beginning of the century are also realistic, even though some of their features are larger than life (Esensja.pl, 1.02.2001). 

Piąty jeździec Apokalipsy / The Fifth Rider of the Apocalypse is a grotesque crime story, filled with humour. The plot revolves around saving the world from the Antichrist and holocaust. Don Juan revisited, on the other hand, is a brilliant, funny adventure story, referencing the legend of Don Juan who goes on his last mission: he is supposed to seduce Joanna of Castile, who lost her mind after the death of her husband, Philip the Handsome. Don Juan is possibly the one who can save her from going completely crazy... The story was very well received by the critics.  

There's no one else like him in Poland. He's great and, at the same time, allergic to popularity. His novels are published casually, every seven years, he doesn't like the media nor the artistic life. Just once he appeared publicly to accept the Kościelscy award. His name is Andrzej Bart. He just published his latest novel - Don Juan Revisited - and it's his best work. A ravishing work - wrote Dariusz Nowacki ("Gazeta Wyborcza", 18.09.2006). 

In 2008, the Polish publishing house W.A.B. released his novel Fabryka muchołapek (The Flytrap Factory), which was on the shortlist for the 2009 Nike Award; it was also nominated for the Angelus Central European Literature Award, 2009 Gdynia Literary Prize, and 2009 COGITO Public Media Award. It's a story of the fictional trial of the Łódź ghetto leader, Chaim Rumkowski, who was one of the most controversial figures of the Holocaust. 

The city itself is an important subject - Bart portrays Łódź in over almost a century, from the pre-war times, through Litzmannstadt, up until now. The book is filled with allusions, quotes and intertextuality, so characteristic of the author. The Flytrap Factory confirms that he's one of the best and underappreciated contemporary prose writers - wrote Krzysztof Cieślik ("Polityka", 28.11.2008). 

Andrzej Bart authored the script for the film Rewers (Reverse, dir. Borys Lankosz), which received the Golden Lions Grand Prize at the Gdynia Film Festival. In October 2009, a literary version of the film's script was published under the same title.

When describing one of Bart's books, Marek Zaleski expressed an opinion that could easily also refer to his other works:

Bart's novel does not pretend to be a masterpiece, but nevertheless exceeds the expectations we pose to popular prose. Indeed – Andrzej Bart has become an expert in sophisticated popular literature. He is recognized as an author of intelligent, witty novels that deliver top quality entertainment, which allows us to indulge in style, allusions, and original sense of humour.

In 2011, Andrzej Bart had his theatrical debut with the play Boulevard Voltaire, created for the television. A year earlier, the same text was adapted as a radio play for the Polish Radio Theatre.

His last book is Bezdech (Apnea), published in 2013. It's the story of a world-famous Polish director, who comes back home after many years to face his past. Bart directed a TV adaptation of this book, in which Bogusław Linda and Dawid Ogrodnik play the leading roles. 

Works:

  • Człowiek, na którego nie szczekały psy / The Man the Dogs Didn't Bark At (as Andrzej Bart-Sołtysiak]), Łódź: Wydawnictwo Łódzkie, 1983
  • Rien ne va plus, Łódź: Poprzeczna Oficyna, 1991
  • Pociąg do podróży / The Travel Bug, Montricher: Noir sur Blanc, 1999
  • Piąty jeździec Apokalipsy / The Fifth Rider of Apocalypse [as Paul Scarron Junior], Montricher: Noir sur Blanc, 1999
  • Rien ne va plus (corrected and extended edition), Kraków: Wydawnictwo Literackie, 2005
  • Don Juan raz jeszcze / Don Juan Revisited, Kraków: Wydawnictwo Literackie, 2006
  • Fabryka muchołapek / The Flytrap Factory, Warsaw: W.A.B., 2008
  • Rewers / Reverse, Warsaw: W.A.B., 2009
  • Bezdech / Apnea, Warsaw: W.A.B., 2013. 

Translations:

Czech:

  • Továrna mucholapky (Fabryka muchołapek), transl. Jiří Červenka, Praha: Fra, 2011.

French:

  • Rien ne va plus, Montricher: Noir sur Blanc, 1991.
  • Le goût du voyage (Pociąg do podróży), Montricher (Paris): Noir sur Blanc, 1999.
  • Le cinquième cavalier de apocalypse (Piąty jeździec Apokalipsy), transl. Grażyna Erhard, Montricher (Paris): Éditions Noir sur Blanc, 1999.
  • Don Juan, une fois encore (Don Juan Revisited), transl. Robert Bourgeois, Paris: Noir sur Blanc, 2009

Hebrew:

  • Fabryka muchołapek, transl. Anat Zajdman, Kinneret Zmora 2011
  • Rewers, transl. Miri Paz, Tel Aviv: Katav Web Publishing, 2012

Macedonian:

  • Fabrika na smrtta (Fabryka muchołapek), transl. Michaił Barakovski, Skopje: Makedonska Rech 2011

German:

  • Die fliegenfängerfabrik (Fabryka muchołapek), transl. Albrecht Lempp, Frankfurt am Main: Schoeffling Verlag, 2011
  • Knochenpalast (Rewers), transl. Albrecht Lempp, Frankfurt am Main: Schöffling & Co., 2014

Russian:

  • Fabrika muchoboek (Fabryka muchołapek), transl. Ksenia Starosielska, Moscow: Gesharim / Bridging Cultures, 2010

Slovenian:

  • Tovarna muholovk (Fabryka muchołapek), transl. Jasmina Šuler Galos, Ljubljana: Litera Publishing House, 2011

Hungarian:

  • Rien ne va plus, Budapest: Európa, 2005

 

Sources: W.A.B. Publishing House, Polish Book Institute, transl. Ania Micińska, May 2015, updated by NMR, August 2016. 

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Culture.pl
2015/05/22
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Andrzej Bart

Works

This novel is an example of a rare brand of Polish literature, the ambitious adventure story. It is written with attention to historical details but also with an ironic distance to events and characters. Bart has fictionalised real events from 500 years ago. Nomination for the 2007 Nike Literary Award... Read more about: Don Juan Revisited – Andrzej Bart

Andrzej Bart
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