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Magnetic Poles

March 2004

Whether it’s something in the water, or the tension of being positioned between Russia and Germany, Polish literature seems radioactive. In “Witold Gombrowicz, and To Hell with Culture,” translator Benjamin Paloff introduces “the most important” unknown twentieth-century novelist, whose “Rat” simply chews its way through the reader. Translator Michael Kandel goes hiking with science fiction writer Marek Huberath, who salvages some humanity post-apocalypse in “Yoo Retoont, Sneogg. Ay Noo.” For comic relief, Jerzy Pilch gives us some good old-fashioned drunken lust; Magdalena Tulli lifts us up with philosophical prose that reads like incantation; Pawel Huelle spins us ’round with exuberant narration. Then the poets–ah, those Polish poets: Stanisław Baranczak, Adam Zagajewski, Bronisław Maj, Tadeusz Różewicz.

A record plays on a turntable
Photo by Jace & Afsoon on Unsplash