Warsaw Fictions

Our de facto Warsaw correspondent Robert recently sent these photos relating to Lalka (The Doll) by Bolesław Prus, which we read in 2021, along with this commentary:

“No doubt most of you will remember when we read the classic book ‘Lalka’. 
 
“This morning we came across the 2 carved information plaques in the attached photographs. Each one is about a main character from the book. Curiously, the text assumes that these fictional characters DID live in the premises with attached plaques.”
 
Wokulski is the main protagonist, who owns the shop in which Rzecki works – and while said shop plays a central role there’s a lot more to the book than shopkeeping.
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Maciej Hen

After our last post about Robert McMillan meeting Jozef Hen, this post is about Basia McMillan meeting Maciej Hen. (Robert and Basia are married; Jozef and Maciej are father and son.)

Basia writes:

“Recently I attend the Polish National Library’s very well attended annual picnic in Warsaw. While there I spent some time talking woth two authors.

“Firstly Zyta Rudzka who has won a number of prestigious prizes for her work – including this year the Nike (comparable to the Booker) for her latest book. She informed me that one of her books, Slicznotka Doktora Josepha, has recently been translated into English by Antonia Lloyd Jones and will be published in the USA next year. Obviously, a possible book for us to read once it becomes available.

“I also talked to Maciej Hen – our second encounter as we had a long meeting with him and Grazyna last year.”

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Jozef Hen

One of our members, Robert McMillan, is currently in Warsaw where he recently attended an event looking at the work of Jozef Hen.
 
Last year we read his Nowolipie Street, about his experiences of growing up in Warsaw in the 1920s and 30s.
 
Robert writes, “I managed to have a short conversation with him… Despite being nearly 100 years old he was quite sharp and understood English.”
 
You can read our (very appreciative) thoughts on Nowolipie Street here.
 
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Books in Warsaw

One of our members, Robert McMillan, has been sending disptaches from Warsaw. Here are some of his book-sightings.

“Taken in tunnel under The Royal Castle – the 4th book fair we have attended this year in Warsaw.”

“Taken in Czytelnik (a ‘reading’ centre established many years ago) dining room showing an interesting way of displaying books.”

“These two photos were taken from the entrance of a wonderful second-hand bookshop in Solec Warsaw. The owner, a diminutive woman, had an encyclopaedic knowledge of her books; when asked if she had a copy of Witlin’s Salt of the Earth she promptly answered – no.”

Some books that are there but out of sight…

“I think this photo taken in the hallway of the splendid Warsaw University Library shows how the system of student requests for particular books can be dealt with, i.e. make your request online, the book is deposited in one of the deposit drawers and the student uses an emailed code to open the appropriate door. No dialogue between student and staff required!”

And finally some books that seem to be there but aren’t.

“If like us, you book lovers are faced with overflowing bookcases gradually filling up your accommodation, here is a possible solution – photograph the bookcases and replace them with flat screen displays as exemplified by the photo above. I know Basia would never agree – except, of course, for my books!”

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