Thursday, August 11, 2016

Who Is Wacław Liebert?

I have a copy of Ewidencja W .16.

I think it's a novel -- mostly because the word "powieść" is under the title on the title page, and "powieść" is Polish for "novel."

My Polish isn't that great. I can't really tell for sure what kind of a novel this is -- a pedestrian thriller? A satire so refined that only 4 people so far have really been able to understand it, but it made all 4 laugh so hard that they literally rolled on the ground? (Have you ever laughed that hard? I have -- when reading Mark Twain.) A post-impressionist character study of expatriates which is pretentious and overrated but not completely terrible, and still miles better than your average bestseller? (Or are Polish readers actually very sophisticated, so much so that their bestsellers actually tend to be good?) Of the 27 chapter titles, I've figured out what 4 mean, and none of those 4 are in Polish: "Bueno notte," "Ordnung muss sein," "Hydra" and "Corrida." Are the other 23 in Polish? I don't know. I'm pretty sure some of them are.

Is this the kind of novel that wins awards and makes bestseller lists? That wins awards but is obscure? That sells tons but wins nothing? That neither wins awards nor sells many copies and is just very, very mediocre and sad? It was published in London in 1980 by the Polska Fundacja Kulturalna. Don't know much about them either. The fact that a book written in Polish was published outside of Poland in 1980 might be a good or a bad sign regarding its quality, or neither, depending. If a Polish person sees me with this book, will they think, "Oh no, a barbarian!" or "Oh no, an intellectual!" or "Oh no, that big doofus who can't even read Polish who blogged about this book for some unfathomable reason!" or "I've never heard of that author" or "Wow, that guy's big! By which I don't mean merely tall!" or something else?

Borges would've understood me.

No comments:

Post a Comment