The Polish Complex (Writers from the other Europe)

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9780140065909: The Polish Complex (Writers from the other Europe)

The Polish Complex takes place on Christmas Eve, from early morning until late in the evening, as a line of people (including the narrator, whose name is Konwicki) stand and wait in front of a jewelry store in Warsaw. Through the narrator we are told of what happens among those standing in line outside this store, what happens as the narrator's mind thinks and rants about the current state of Poland, and what happens as he imagines the failed Polish rebellion of 1863. The novel's form allows Konwicki (both character and author) to roam around and through Poland's past and present, and to range freely through whatever comes to his attention. By turns comic, lyrical, despairing, and liberating, The Polish Complex stands as one of the most important novels to have come out of Poland since World War II.

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About the Author:

Richard Lourie is the critically acclaimed author of both fiction and nonfiction, including "The Autobiography of Joseph Stalin "and "Sakharov: A Biography." He has translated forty books and has served as Mikhail Gorbachev's translator for "The New York Times. "His articles and reviews have appeared in many influential publications, including "The New York Times, The Washington Post, "the "New Republic, "and "The Nation." He is currently a correspondent for "The Moscow Times."

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

If our meager constellation were to be viewed from the depths of the universe, the denseness of the Milky Way would obscure our modest sun and our eight or nine (I don't feel like looking it up), our eight or nine planets--some with moons--those several small planets accompanying the sun, so important to us but a matter of such indifference in the jungle of space. One of those planets is our earth, where an incredible phenomenon occurred--life, life saturated with oxygen, that most infernal and deadly element. This earth of ours resembles a blue-green porcelain pear overlaid with a tattered white layer made up of capricious powdery puffs, the clouds revered by poets, the storm clouds which usher in cyclones and floods, and those terrible autumn low-pressure periods when people's hearts break, the ghosts of paralyzing premonitions creep from the mist, and life sinks into lethargy in its yearly attempt at eternal sleep.

On this pear-shaped planet, busy fulfilling Nature's commands, teem nearly five billion intelligent beings, or so these two-legged creatures with their erect stance would first appear to an eye or electromagnetic wave. In the tangled process of evolution we divided ourselves into greater or smaller social groupings called nations, which perhaps makes it easier for us to vegetate. These great and small nations are constantly devouring each other in the struggle for existence, for endurance, for competition, according to the laws of evolution. Clearly it would be absurd to maintain that the small social formations absorb the larger ones, yet if one considers that those herds called nations suddenly swell and contract, distend and molder, multiply by gemmation, and become crippled by amputation, then, in the final analysis, they do devour each other (though sometimes it happens that one vomits out the undigested remains of a neighbor).

This strange division into nations is the source of much of our suffering, pain, and misfortune. The closer we come to the disintegration of nations as obsolete structures impeding the mysterious and terrifying process of evolution, the more intense the processes of ionization within nations becomes; the higher their internal and external temperatures become, the more tragic their collision, those frictions we call wars, revolutions, or uprisings.

The tendency of writers, recording fictional or actual vicissitudes among particular individuals and among entire social formations, to tear themselves free of earth and to observe it from stratospheric heights or intergalactic space, is a mannerism which has now been examined by scientists and found to be a symptom of a particular aberration. But the description of life from the height of a fieldstone or hydrant in a city is just as objectionable. On the whole, literature means abnormality, transcendence, aberration.

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Konwicki, Tadeusz
Published by Penguin USA, New York (1982)
ISBN 10: 0140065903 ISBN 13: 9780140065909
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Book Description Penguin USA, New York, 1982. Soft cover. Book Condition: New. "Today slavery has becme invisible. On the surface some poor nation behaves naturally, listens with reverence to its own anthem, elects a parliament, dispatches emissaries, sits on the Security Council;.acts like any independent, sovereign state. And not one sees the revolver at its back, a cocked revolver belonging to its neighbor or to some other country." xxi+221 pages. Published @ $5.95. Bookseller Inventory # 797

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Konwicki, Tadeusz
Published by Penguin Books (1984)
ISBN 10: 0140065903 ISBN 13: 9780140065909
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Book Description Penguin Books, 1984. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P110140065903

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