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Anna Bolecka

Bolecka, photo: Elżbieta Lempp
Bolecka, photo: Elżbieta Lempp

Born in Warsaw in 1951, she graduated from the university there. Bolecka is a writer and literary historian who edited the 1986 collection of the plays of Maria Pawlikowska-Jasnorzewska.

Her first novel, Fly to Heaven, offers a child's perspective on a small provincial town during the Stalinist era. The White Stone was a sensation among both readers and critics, and received several awards including the Reymont Prize. Dedicated to Bolecka's father, The White Stone reconstructs the prehistory of a family living in the eastern marches of the Polish Commonwealth. Descriptions of landscapes, furnishings and objects bring the past nostalgically back to life in poetic creation. Imagination takes over where ethnographic and folk culture research and the original sources leave off. The White Stone depends on images built from the power of empathy and emotional identification with the world being described. Bolecka is a poet of sensory description and a mythmaker of daily life.

...the mystery of Anna Bolecka's book is the combination of almost sensory physical reality in descriptions couched in a crystalline prose with covert mythical structures... as in the best works of 'magical realism' or in Miłosz's 'Issa Valley'.(Tygodnik Powszechny on The White Stone)

Source: www.polska2000.pl; copyright: Stowarzyszenie Willa Decjusza.

Anna Bolecka's third novel, Kochany Franz (Beloved Franz, 1999) is a collection of immagined correspondence between the main protagonist (the name Franz refers to Franz Kafka, even though the surname never appears in the book) and his friends. The story takes place in the triangle of cities Prague - Berlin - Vienna between 1911 and 1947 (Kafka died in 1924, but his friends still write to each other, mostly about what happened after the author of the Process died, and his legend was born.  

In 2002 she published a young adult novel Latawce (Parachutes), which tells the story of a formidable holiday of a group of teenagers, and two years later another book for adults, entitled Concerto d'amore. The novel – as the title itself suggests – talks about love. As critics wrote, it oscillates between a work of art and a common romance.

Concerto d'amore can be read as a trivial story of an experienced man with a woman who also has a past, who found each other after years of searching for love and of disappointments. As it happens in romance – they had to find each other („our meeting was waiting for us”).

Romantic motives are suggested by Bolecka also through the language, because talking about love, she also uses the language of love (what a risk she's taking!). Put she doesn't sound pretentious, trying to bring back a pure, romantic naivety. If „there is always something funny about love, something that puts the lover in an unserious situation”, the code of love is even more ridiculous, foreign and irritating, when you look at it from the outside. In Concerto d'amore it is authentic though, it is recovered – wrote Paweł T. Felis ("Gazeta Wyborcza", 02.08.2004).

Concerto d'amore takes place in Warsaw and it describes the panorama of the modern city, but it is also formed by mythical matter, by the story of Eros and Psyche. Critics considered using archetypical motives a brave decision – the author wasn't afraid of being judged as trivial or pompous in style.

In Uwiedzeni (Seduced, 2009) Bolecka weaves the stories of a group of exceptional protagonists, to talk about the sources of tragedies that came in the XX century. The plot takes place in the beginnings of the century, among others in Vienna, Munich and Danzig. Trapp is an inhabitant of viennese dosshouses, Łucja is a morphinist who adores Robespierre, Hedwig is a German stigmatic and Erich is a young Nazi, whose persona is a sign of the upcoming Hitlerism.

Their state can be described as the malaise of the soul, characteristic to the XX century, the century of ideology. But what is best in Bolecka's novel – apart from the language in which it is written – is that all of these protagonists bear an unsolved mystery – wrote Justyna Sobolewska ("Polityka", 23 czerwca 2009).

Of her last novel up to date – Cadyk i dziewczyna (Tzadik and the girl) published in 2012 – says the author:

Each of us has probably wondered at least once, how we would behave in a situation of great danger, for example in occupied Warsaw during the war. I was also thinking about this and, as probably everyone, I wasn't sure of myself. Amongst many unknown heroes of those times I met a few, whose fates became important to me. These are people who, just as us today, were filled with hestitation, fear, they wanted to escape their fate and chose what's good in spite of everything and everyone.

I decided to write their dramatic stories. To show people who loved, helped each other, searched for ways of surviving, made difficult choices – they didn't want to be victims surrendered to their fate.

The author, born after the war, obviously could not use her own experience, so she worked with historical sources: she was inspired mostly by diaries and letters of a Dutch Jew Etta Hillesum, who became the prototype for the main protagonist of Cadyk i dziewczyna.

Anna Bolecka's novels were translated into German, French, Danish, Dutch and Portugese.

Bibliography:

  • Leć do nieba / Fly to Heaven, Warszawa: Iskry, 1989
  • Biały kamień / The White Stone, Warszawa: Szpak, 1994
  • Kochany Franz / Beloved Franz, Warszawa: Szpak, 1999
  • Latawce / Kites (for children and teenagers), Warszawa: Ezop, 2002
  • Concerto d'amoreWarszawa: W.A.B, 2004
  • Uwiedzeni / SeducedWarszawa: Wydawnictwo Jacek Santorski & Co, 2009
  • Cadyk i dziewczyna / Tzadik and the girlWarszawa: Czarna Owca, 2012


Translations:

  • French: Mon cher Franz / Kochany Franz, Paris: S. Wespieser Éd., 2004
  • German: Der weiße Stein / Biały kamień, Berlin: Berlin-Verlag, 1997
  • Dutch: Een witte steen / Biały kamień, Breda: De Geus, 1997
  • Portuguese: Querido Franz: um romance epistolar sobre Kafka / Kochany Franz, Rio de Janeiro: Record, 2002.

 

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Culture.pl
2004/11/14
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