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A frame from Andrzej Wajda's The Birch Wood, on the photo: Daniel Olbrychski and Elżbieta Żołek, photo: Filmoteka Narodowa/www.fototeka.fn.org.pl

The Birch Wood is Andrzej Wajda's adaptation of a novel by Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz. It tells a story of a musician on the threshold of death, who tries to find his inner peace in a cottage within the woods.

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What's in a Polish name? Why did the Slavic names of yore almost die out? And what are Polish names like nowadays?

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Morphine (Morfina) is an audacious novel which is far from an easy demythologization of Polish national history. Szczepan Twardoch creates a universal portrait of a man who tries to free his own identity from his own mother, lovers, wife, and, lastly – History.

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Picasso's drawing of Warsaw Mermaid, photo: public domain

Great artists recognize the charm of great cities. Picasso, the matador of 20th-century art, once met the Syrenka – Warsaw’s 14th-century mermaid. The child of this affair was born in 1948 in the Koło district. She measured 1.8m x 1.7m, and waved a hammer instead of a shield. “My God, it was huge,” reported one witness, “her bosoms were like two balloons.”

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Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz w wieku 20 lat z psem Nielsem, 1914., fot. z archiwum Muzeum w Stawisku/FOTONOVA

Meet the co-founder of the experimental pre-war Skamander group, a subtle aesthete who was also condemned for his political opportunism, a caring husband preoccupied with homosexual love affairs throughout his life.

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Tytus Czyżewski, Portrait of Bruno Jasieński, 1920, oil, canvas, photo: courtesy of the Museum of Art in Łódź, Kultura headquarters in Maisons-Laffitte near Paris, photo by: Wojciech Łaski / East News, Józef Oleszkiewicz, Portrait of Adam Mickiewicz, 1828, donation of Władysław Mickiewicz, photo source: National Museum in Cracow

In order to guide English-speakers towards the Polish authors best suited for their specific tastes, Culture.pl has put together an exclusive guide offering historical context and tailor-made recommendations.

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