Past events

Andrzej Bobkowski's Notebooks: A Polish Writer in World War II France

Tuesday, April 30, 2019, at 7:30pm

Expand your literary horizons and join us for an evening of notable piece of Polish literature now made available to American readers. Grażyna Drabik (City College, CUNY) and Laura Engelstein (Yale University), translators of Andrzej Bobkowski's Szkice Piorkiem will share insights on the author's unique view on the history, politics, culture and life under duress. They will also elaborate on the book's value and key messages that are relevant to readers of the 21st century.

Andrzej Bobkowski's Notebooks: A Polish Writer in World War II France - A conversation with the translators of Szkice piórkiem, Grażyna Drabik & Laura Engelstein

Tuesday, April 30, 2019, 7:30 p.m. 

The Kosciuszko Foundation: 15 E 65th Street, NYC

The event is free and open to the public. Space is limited. Registration required. Wine reception will follow a discussion. In lieu of admission donation towards the KF Cultural Fund is appreciated. 

When the aspiring young writer Andrzej Bobkowski, a self-styled cosmopolitan Pole, found himself caught in occupied France in 1940, he recorded his reflections on culture, politics, history, and everyday life. Published after the war, his notebooks offer an outsider's perspective on the hardships and ironies of the Occupation. In the face of war, Bobkowski celebrates the value of freedom and human life through the evocation – in a daringly untragic mode – of ordinary existence, the taste of simple food, the beauty of the French countryside. Resisting intellectual abstractions, his notes exude a young man's pleasure in physical movement – miles clocked on country roads and Parisian streets on his trusty bike – and they reveal the emergence of an original literary voice. Bobkowski was recognized in his homeland as a master of modern Polish prose only after Communism ended. He remains to be discovered in the English-speaking world.

Andrzej Bobkowski's Wartime Notebooks offers a fascinating perspective on European history in the middle of the twentieth century, a brilliant young Polish intellectual in France reflecting on the fate of Europe, as Poland and the France itself were conquered by the Nazis. Bobkowski's detailed observations and philosophical reflections, illuminate what it meant to be Polish, what it meant to be European, and what it meant to live, observe, and survive in Nazi Europe. The notebooks allow us to understand how Eastern Europe and Western Europe were related and reconciled in the understanding of one striking European intellectual, helping us to envision a more complete intellectual history of Europe as a whole.

Larry Wolff, New York University, author, of "Inventing Easter Europe" and "The Singing Turk

Bobkowski is a marvelous discovery! Thanks to Laura Engelstein and Grazyna Drabik's sparkling translation, we can read his diary of wartime France, which brims with detailed, lavish, and ironic observations of the German occupation and of the French and his fellow Poles.

Norman M. Naimark, Stanford University

ANDRZEJ BOBKOWSKI (1913 - 1961) was born in Austria, raised in Poland , pent World War II in occupied France, and died in Guatemala. 

GRAŻYNA DRABIK teaches literature at City College of New York is professor of Russian history emerita at Yale University. 

LAURA ENGELSTEIN is professor of Russian history emerita at Yale University. 

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