Mr Kleks Goes English
#language & literature
default, Mr Kleks Goes English, Promo image for 'Professor Inkblot's Academy', Marek Kazmierski's translation of Jan Brzechwa's 'Academia Pana Kleksa', photo: givetheworld.org, KazmierskiPanaKleksaPromo(1).jpg
After a long wait, Jan Brzechwa's classic Polish children's book 'Akademia Pana Kleksa' has been reborn in English as 'Professor Inkblot's Academy' thanks to translator Marek Kazmierski.
A new e-book version, as well as an audiobook, of the iconic story has been made available for the first time in English. The story of a young lad admitted to a fairytale academy – where he is taught all sorts of new skills and secrets by the titular Professor Ambrose Inkblot – is most reminiscent of the Harry Potter concept created by J K Rowling in 1997 (an exact half century after Jan Brzechwa's novels were published in Polish).
Jan Brzechwa, a writer and poet born in the 19th century (when Poland was actually wiped off the world map by invading empires), came from a Jewish family called Lesman, his cousin being the renowned poet Bolesław Leśmian... Raised as a Christian, Jan Wiktor Lesman then changed his name to Jan Brzechwa (on the insistence of his older and more famous cousin) and became one of the most widely read Polish writers of the last century. Not only did he write countless poems, novels, songs and sketches for radio, stage and screen, but during World War II he wrote what would become the most popular 'young readers' book written in the Polish language: Akademia Pana Kleksa (Professor Inkblot's Academy).
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Brzechwa's 1946 book was followed by two sequels, and the trilogy became the basis of numerous stage shows and a series of musical feature films in the 1980s. But even though Akademia Pana Kleksa has been translated into many different languages, including French, German and Spanish, the rights for an English version had been mired with issues for many years. But now, after securing a deal for an official electronic version, Marek Kazmierski's new e-book has been released as the first available English translation.
The lack of an English version for so many years was one of Kazmierski's key motivations:
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Why would such a precious treasure remain unknown to the 1,500,000,000 English-speaking and -reading people all over the globe for 74 for long years? To help explain, in addition to the complete translation of the first novel, in April 2020 I will also publish an additional digital guidebook which will explore the life of Jan Brzechwa, how the novel was written at the time of World War II and the themes it deals with, as well as the reasons why it has not been available until now – explaining how I came to translate and secure the publishing rights – and what I shall now do to make international audiences engage with the fable of Professor Ambrose Inkblot and his Amazing Academy.
translations of polish literature
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Professor Inkblot's Academy
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On the e-book's release day, the translator, in appropriately whimsical form, filmed himself announcing that it was now available, including information on how to find the audiobook version:
Marek Kazmierski is an award-winning writer and translator. His new Brzechwa translation comes soon after the release of his hand-bound English version of Adam Mickiewicz's Fables and his translation of Jakub Żulczyk's Blinded by the Lights on Legend Press.
Details about how to obtain the Professor Inkblot's Academy e-book are available from GiveTheWorld.org.
Source: press release; compiled by AZ, Apr 2020
N.B. The original 2013 article found at this URL address was about the European Commission's plan to translate many different famous books from around Europe, including 17 Polish ones, among which was 'Akademia Pana Kleksa'. Unfortunately, that programme did not deliver the expected results and many of the books listed at the time have not yet been translated. More information about these ongoing plans (and other translation grant opportunities) may be found on the original source sites Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency, Creative Europe and The Polish Book Institute.
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