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Graphic Literature

Romanticism

By Krysztof Gawronkiewicz
Translated from Polish by Antonia Lloyd-Jones
Man: WATSON DOESN'T LIKE SOCCER . YEEAAAH ...

Man: AT LAST I CAN WATCH THE MATCH IN PEACE .

Man: GODDAMMIT !

Newscaster from television: WE INTERRUPT THE MATCH FOR A SPECIAL EDITION OF " CULTURE MAGAZINE "

Newscaster from television: AS EVERYONE KNOWS , OUR CULTURE IS IN A STATE OF DEEP CRISIS .

Newscaster from television: BUT TODAY IS A HISTORIC DAY IN THE HISTORY OF OUR ARTS , A REAL WATERSHED ! OUR MASTERS ARE BACK ! THEY HAVE COME TO US STRAIGHT FROM THE ERA OF ROMANTICISM , THE GREATEST EPOCH IN OUR CULTURAL HISTORY !
Newscaster from television: LADIES AND GENTLEMEN THIS IS A SENSATION ON A WORLD SCALE ! ISN'T THAT RIGHT , MINISTER ?

MINISTER from television: YES . WE HAVE RESURRECTED THE MASTERS BY APPLYING WHAT YOU MIGHT CALL ANCIENT SLAVONIC METHODS , BASED ON THE LATEST SCIENTIFIC DISCOVERIES IN THE FIELD OF GENETICS .

MINISTER from television: HERE IS THE MOST IMPORTANT ELEMENT - THE SO - CALLED RESURRECTOR .

MINISTER from television: WE IMPORTED MOST OF THE MATERIALS FROM ABROAD . WE HAD TO OPERATE DISCREETLY , AS THE FOREIGN AGENTS NEVER SLEEP .

MINISTER from television: OUR OPERATIONS ARE VERY EXPENSIVE , AND SO WE ARE COUNTING ON THE DEDICATION OF THE GENERAL PUBLIC .

Newscaster from television: DID YOU SUCCEED IN ASSEMBLING ALL THE PARTS , MINISTER ?

MINISTER from television (blowing smoke into the face of the newscaster): THAT WASN'T NECESSARY . OUR TECHNOLOGY ENABLES THE RESURRECTION OF AN INCOMPLETE BODY . OF COURSE THE SKULL IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING .

Newscaster from television: EXCUSE MY AUDACITY , BUT DOESN'T SMOKE DO HARM TO OUR MASTERS ?

MINISTER from television (blowing smoke into the face of the newscaster): NO , BECAUSE THEY DO NOT BREATHE .

Newscaster from television: THE MASTERS WILL GIVE US BEALITY AND TRUTH .

THEIR WORKS ARE IMMORTAL , AND NOW THEY TOO HAVE BEEN TORN FROM THE GRIP OF DEATH AND WILL BE WITH US FOREVER !


MINISTER from television: YES . EVEN THE REMOVAL OR DESTRUCTION OF THE RESURRECTOR DOES NOT CAUSE THEIR ANNIHILATION . THE MASTERS ARE PRACTICALLY IMMORTAL . UNLESS THERE WERE TO BE AN UNFORTUNATE ACCIDENT INVOLVING AN IRON RAILING OR A SKEWER . BUT THAT'S SIMPLY NOT POSSIBLE . WE ARE TAKING GREAT CARE OF THE MASTERS . ANYWAY , I CAN'T TALK ABOUT THAT IT'S A STATE SECRET .

Newscaster from television: AFTER THEIR EXPERIENCES IN THE WORLD BEYOND , THE MASTERS ARE BOUND TO CREATE EVEN BETTER , MORE MOVING WORKS THAN EVER ! ALL THANKS TO YOU , MINISTER .
Newscaster from television: WE PRESENT THE COMPOSER , THE PAINTER , AND THE POET !

MINISTER from television: WELL , I HOPE THAT WHEN IN THIRTY OR FORTY YEARS FROM NOW MY HIGHLY SUCCESSFUL LIFE COMES TO AN END , I TOO WILL BE RESURRECTED AS A REWARD FOR ALL MY GREAT ACHIEVEMENTS .

[Music emanating from television]

Man: WHAT A RACKET !

Newscaster from television: I AM ALWAYS MOVED WHEN I HEAR THE FUNERAL MARCH . IS THAT A WILLOW PIPE ?

MINISTER from television: PIPES MADE OF WILLOW ARE ONLY FIT FOR SHEPHERD BOYS . THAT ONE'S MADE OF BONE .
Newscaster from television: WHAT A STRANGE BRUSH . WHAT'S IT MADE OF ?

MINISTER from television: OUT OF HAIR AND BONE .

Newscaster from television: I REALIZE THE BALLPOINT WOULD BE TOO MODERN FOR THE MASTER , BUT WOULDN'T HE BE MORE COMFORTABLE WRITING WITH A PENCIL ?

MINISTER from television: NO ! PENCILS ARE OUT OF THE QUESTION ! NO SHARP WOODEN OBJECTS !

Man: YEEAAH ...

Man: WHAT A BORE ... I WONDER WHY THEY HAVEN'T HAD ANY CRIME SHOWS ON TV LATELY ?

I'D HAVE A DRINK , BUT WATSON SAID THAT IF I GOT DRUNK I WOULDN'T LAST THREE MINUTES WITHOUT HIM YEEAAH ... I'M NOT DRINKING AND I'M NOT SMOKING , SO WHAT'S HAPPENED TO ME ?

[Label on a flask: THE BIG SLEEP]

Man: AND ALL THIS CULTURE AND ART EVERYWHERE . BORING ...
Newscaster from television: MASTER , WHAT ARE YOUR ARTISTIC PLANS FOR THE NEXT CENTURY ?

Newscaster from television: AND WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT SO - CALLED MODERN POETRY , MASTER ?

Newscaster from television: WELL , LADIES AND GENTLEMEN , THAT'S WHAT POETS ARE LIKE . AND MY GUEST IS A TOP - CLASS POET ALL RIGHT .

Master from television: My song lies cold within the grave , Blood it smells from underground And up it leaps , as vampires crave The BLOOD of any victims found .

MINISTER from television: WE MUST REMEMBER THAT WE HAVE BEEN MAKING USE OF OUR MASTERS ' WORKS FOR CENTURIES WITHOUT PAYING THEM ANY ROYALTIES . IF ALL THOSE FEES WERE COLLECTED , AND IF YOU ADDED THE INTEREST TOO , IT WOULD COME TO AN ENORMOUS SUM

MINISTER from television: BUT YOU CAN'T CONVERT ART INTO MONEY . WE MUST REPAY THEM , BUT IN A DIFFERENT WAY . WE HAVE SO MANY NATURAL RESOURCES ...

MINISTER from television: SO LET'S BE READY TO BE SELF - SACRIFICING , CITIZENS !

MINISTER from television: WHO KNOWS , MAYBE ONE OF YOU WILL BE CHOSEN !
Newscaster from television: THE WORKS OF OUR MASTERS ARE ENCHANTING .

Newscaster from television: CAPTIVATING .

Newscaster from television: HYPNOTIZING .

Man: ROTTEN OLD CRATE !

Regular readers of Words without Borders will remember Otto Bohater, the downbeat Warsaw detective, and his faithful partner, Watson the White Rat, who appeared in an extract from Essence in 2007. Their further adventures are described in Romanticism, a thrilling horror story in which the spirits of Poland’s greatest Romantic artists–the composer Frederic Chopin, the artist Jan Matejko and the poet Adam Mickiewicz–are brought back to life with dire consequences. As these bloodthirsty vampires hypnotize people with their art, words, and music and lure them to their doom, Otto the detective has to save the day, using the pointed stakes of signs banning just about everything to pierce their evil hearts. The only trouble is, Otto was a duffer at school and is no intellectual, so he doesn’t know that Chopin’s heart was buried in an urn in a central Warsaw church, and isn’t in his body . . . At this earlier stage in the story, the Minister of Culture appears on television to announce the resurrection of the three Romantics.

English

Regular readers of Words without Borders will remember Otto Bohater, the downbeat Warsaw detective, and his faithful partner, Watson the White Rat, who appeared in an extract from Essence in 2007. Their further adventures are described in Romanticism, a thrilling horror story in which the spirits of Poland’s greatest Romantic artists–the composer Frederic Chopin, the artist Jan Matejko and the poet Adam Mickiewicz–are brought back to life with dire consequences. As these bloodthirsty vampires hypnotize people with their art, words, and music and lure them to their doom, Otto the detective has to save the day, using the pointed stakes of signs banning just about everything to pierce their evil hearts. The only trouble is, Otto was a duffer at school and is no intellectual, so he doesn’t know that Chopin’s heart was buried in an urn in a central Warsaw church, and isn’t in his body . . . At this earlier stage in the story, the Minister of Culture appears on television to announce the resurrection of the three Romantics.

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