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Antoni Libera

Antoni Libera, photo: Włodzimierz Wasyluk
Antoni Libera, photo: Włodzimierz Wasyluk

Antoni Libera was born in 1949. He graduated from Warsaw University and received his doctorate from the Polish Academy of Sciences. He has been occupied with Samuel Beckett's works for many years, which he has translated into Polish and directed on stage.

Libera has translated and published all of Beckett's dramas (1988, 1995), part of his prose work (1982) and also essays and poems. In Poland he produced Beckett's plays chiefly in Warsaw theaters and for television. He has also staged Beckett's dramas in the original in London (Riverside Studios, 1990), Dublin (The Gate Theatre, 1991 and 1999), New York (Lincoln Center, 1996), Melbourne (1997), and most recently in 1999 at the Beckett Festival in London. From 1976 onwards he was in close contact with the playwright, who advised him and gave him many production tips, and called him his 'ambassador in Eastern Europe'. Libera has also translated Oscar Wilde, Greek tragedies and opera libretti.

Madame, Libera's debut novel, was celebrated as a great literary event. It was on the bestseller lists, was nominated for the most important Polish literature prize, the Nike, and was awarded the prestigious Andrzej Kijowski prize. It was not long before interest in the book extended beyond Poland's borders. It has already been published in the US, in Germany and in Hungary, and translations into other languages, including Italian, Spanish, Swedish, Norwegian and Greek, are in progress. Hollywood film agents have already made their interest known. The book's success has already been compared with Umberto Eco's The name of the Rose.

Madame shows that there is still room for the European literary tradition even at the end of the twentieth century, and that writers can use classic models to their advantage without necessarily being naive. The writer can extend this model, play with it, and discover new possibilities within it. It is possible to write in a way that is readable and interesting, devise a plot and at the same time play with form. The novel, which was pronounced dead at least half a century ago, is very much alive: Madame, by Antoni Libera, is one piece of evidence that it is not thinking of dying.

Madame is almost as light as Chopin's music. (Los Angeles Times)
Stendhal would have loved this novel. If he had known Polish, he would even have been able to write it himself. (Washington Post)
Madame is at the same time an enthralling read, a nostalgic tale of youthful passion, and a sober analysis of growing up under Eastern Europe's gray skies in the sixties. Antoni Libera, known in Poland up till now as a translator and director, proves himself here to be an experienced and absorbing prose writer. (The Times)
Copyright: Stowarzyszenie Willa Decjusza
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