In this first scholarly book in English on Miron Białoszewski (1922–1983), Joanna Niżyńska illuminates the elusive prose of one of the most compelling and challenging postwar Polish writers. Niżyńska’s study, exemplary in its use of theoretical concepts, introduces English-language readers to a preeminent voice of Polish literature. Niżyńska explores how a fusion of seemingly irreconcilable qualities, such as the traumatic and the everyday, imbues Białoszewski’s writing with its idiosyncratic appeal.
Ivan Klíma, “a writer of enormous power and originality” (The New York Times Book Review), has penned an intimate autobiography that explores his life under Nazi and Communist regimes. More than a memoir, My Crazy Century explores the ways in which the epoch and its dominating totalitarian ideologies impacted the lives, character, and morality of Klíma’s generation.Klíma’s story begins in the 1930s, in the Terezin concentration camp outside of Prague, where he was forced to spend almost four years of his childhood. He reveals how the postwar atmosphere supported and encouraged the spread of Communist principles over the next few decades and how an informal movement to change the system developed inside the Party. These political events form the backdrop to Klíma’s personal experiences, with the arrest and trial of his father; the early revolt of young writers against socialist realism; his first literary successes; and his travels to the free part of Europe, which strengthened his awareness of living as part of a colossal lie.
In a Europe torn by war and revolution, Berta Altmann comes of age as a gifted artist and independent woman. Her search for freedom leads her from Vienna to the Bauhaus school, Weimar Berlin, and Prague. As she encounters the celebrated artists of her time, she engages in aesthetic and ideological battles that will prove to have life-and-death consequences. Based on the real-life story of Friedl Dicker-Brandeis who taught art to children in the Nazi transport camp of Terezín and died in Auschwitz, Aaron’s Leap is framed by the lens of a 21st-century Israeli film crew that unknowingly unleashes the haunting force of buried history.
In The Woman in the Window: Commerce, Consensual Fantasy, and the Quest for Masculine Virtue in the Russian Novel, Russell Scott Valentino offers pioneering new insights into the historical construction of virtue and its relation to the rapidly shifting economic context in modern Russia. This study illustrates how the traditional virtue ethic, grounded in property-based conceptions of masculine heroism, was eventually displaced by a new commercial ethic that rested upon consensual fantasy. The new economic world destabilized traditional Russian notions of virtue and posed a central question that Russian authors have struggled to answer since the early nineteenth century: How could a self-interested commercial man be incorporated into the Russian context as a socially valuable masculine character?
According to Marx, the family is the primal scene of the division of labor and the “germ” of every exploitative practice. In this insightful study, Jacob Emery examines the Soviet Union’s programmatic effort to institute a global siblinghood of the proletariat, revealing how alternative kinships motivate different economic relations and make possible other artistic forms. A time in which literary fiction was continuous with the social fictions that organize the social economy, the early Soviet period magnifies the interaction between the literary imagination and the reproduction of labor onto a historical scale. Its literature illuminates the intersection of imagination and economy, yielding new relations destined to replace biological kinship—relations based in food, language, or spirit. These metaphorical kinships have explanatory force far beyond their context, providing a vantage point onto, for example, the Gothic literature of the early United States and the science fiction discourses of the postwar period.