Writer and magazine editor. Born on the 5th of March 1907 in Ułaszkowce on the Seret river near Czortkow and Kamieniec Podolski. He died in 1975 in Winchester, Virginia, USA.
Writer and magazine editor with a talent for writing short stories that captivated his readers, the world for him was a space full of problems to describe and solve.
Zygmunt Haupt in his house in Arlington, Virginia, 1963-1964, Photo: Arthur Haupt
His father was a school inspector and his mother was a teacher. He started his education in Tarnopol and continued at Mikołaj Kopernik Gymnasium in Lwow where he graduated in 1924 or in 1925. He then studied at Lwow University of Technology, starting off in the Faculty of Engineering but graduating from the Faculty of Architecture. After his father's death he moved to Paris, where he studied town planning, from 1931-32. At this time he began to paint and write.
In the early '30s he returned to Poland. He made a living from various designing jobs and took up mountain climbing in his spare time. Primarily he concentrated on honing his artistic talents making contacts in the bohemian circle of authors and artists in Lwow.
Zygmunt Haupt's first reports and short stories were published in the daily Dziennik Polski in 1937. In 1939 he was called up to join the army and he fought as an Officer in 10th Motorized Cavalry Brigade led by Stanisław Maczek first as colonel later as a general. Following the Russian invasion of Poland he escaped with other officers, via Hungary to France. He survived the evacuation of Dunkirk and arrived in England where he continued to serve with Polish forces until the war ended. At the end of the war he was serving with the 1st Panzer Tank Division under general Maczek.
He married Edith Norris and in 1945 their son Arthur was born. In the autumn of 1946 Haupt was demobilised and moved with his wife to New Orleans, USA. In 1951 he joined the Voice of America and moved to New York. Seven years later he left New York for Washington to work as a translation editor and writer for Ameryka magazine.
During the post-war period Haupt wrote short stories and memoirs that appeared in the principal Polish émigré journals Mieczysław Grydzewski's Wiadomości (London) and Jerzy Giedroyc's Kultura (Paris) and also in the quarterly Tematy, established in 1962 in New York for the translation of American literature. In 1963 he won Kultura Literary Award which brought him fame. In 1971 he received the annual award from the Kościelski Foundation in Geneva for his contributions to Polish literature.
Zygmunt Haupt died 10 May in 1975 from a stroke and heart attack at the hospital in Winchester, Virginia, and was buried in New Orleans.
The world for Haupt was a grand space full of problems to solve and describe. He had a great talent for writing short stories that captivated his readers. The world Haupt created in Polowanie z Maupassantem / Hunting with Maupassant was almost also his reality. From within this imaginary world he built up dense layers using multiple languages and his painter's imagination. For readers it was an unexpected and brilliant way of handling reality. Haupt, thanks to his imagination, uncovered many hidden signs and he could create a new quality because of it. Sometimes in one episode he would create a secret and mysterious world, where memories, real places and imaginary ones were brought together. He salvages the remains of his own spiritual inheritance despite the complete disappearance of their world. For Haupt, reality is understood within the consciousness which spans time and history, despite history and time. In his imagination he returns to a world that had died. The Poetry of culture assumes that the starting point the examplar - which often becomes the novel's subject is known to all.
Zygmunt Haupt was able to develop his novels and short stories from the smallest pieces of uncovered memory and build a monumental subject giving it universal meaning. All Haupt's creativity in linked to that which is fragile and symbolized a power, "In the lamp light I see my hand laying on a table and on my ring finger an iron paper ring glows."
Haupt's prose is like an alloy of something which is fleeting yet solid - is oxymoronic. For the writer every subject needed to have its own time to be written: to wait as long as it needed; the author carefully chose just the right words. His memories were very important for him, all the images of the world before the war and sometimes even from the deeper past, Poland's best period.
Haupt was a short stories writer. It is hard to say if he could create an epic synthetic world. Perhaps he could, because like Mickiewicz he could digest and utilize the substance of other writers. Maria Danilewicz-Zielińska stressed the importance and significance of scenes and pictures from Adam Mickiewicz Pan Tadeusz. Haupt's vivid memory enabled him to write - draw and paint in words - what was seemed to be fragments, a necessary skill for an epic writer.
The respected critic Józef Czapski said about Haupt,
The world created by Haupt is not touched by the influence of modern life. This world is made by his memoirs and thoughts, this world gives to the reader katharsis and new youth, freshness of untouched experiences and what we all seek, surprise. What else can author gives to the reader?
- Pierścień z papieru (The Parer Ring also The Ring of Paper), Paris 1963;
Szpica. Opowiadania, warianty, szkice (The Picket. Short Stories. Variants, Sketches), Paris 1989.
Author: Wojciech Kaliszewski, College of the Family Covenant in Warsaw, May 2003.