Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Lost in Translation

Sarah Lindemann-Komarova, Portland Press Herald (Maine) February 19, 2017; via GG on Facebook

Image from article, with caption: Food Court at Novosibirsk Mall

Throughout the 25 years I have lived in Siberia people have turned to me as a translator, not of English, but of America. Never more so than now, from my University students to the Kazakh fast food cashier at the mall, “Trump?”. I know they ask hoping I can provide a translation of the meaning of Trump that will reinforce their desire for something positive to happen in the US-Russia relationship.

For many Americans, 2008 was the “hope” election. The unexpected Trump victory turned 2016 into the “hope” election for many Russians. Not because they like Trump, I have not met anyone who is confident this is a good thing. Still, the alternative was frightening. Increasing demonization of Russia reached a crescendo when Hilary Clinton compared Putin to Hitler. The majority of Russians think of Putin as the man who stopped the social chaos and economic devastation that characterized newly democratic Russia in the 1990’s.

Equating their President with the man responsible for killing 27 million of their relatives and friends (including Putin’s older brother) was the step too far. Especially since it was said in the midst of NATO movements best explained by Russian history scholar Stephen Cohen, “This military buildup on Russia’s Western frontiers is absolutely unprecedented. There has never been such an amassing of hostile military force on Russia’s Western frontiers since June 1941 when Hitler invaded the Soviet Union and that’s the way the Russians see it.”

The hope that Trump represents came with his simple question, “Wouldn’t it be good if we could get along with Russia?”. Although as the tweets go beyond grudges and domestic affairs, concerns are growing. One colleague was particularly disturbed by Trump’s comments on international institutions , “This is very dangerous, you cannot rebuild these institutions in a day”. Still, it appears Russians have more faith in American democracy than Americans do these days. Rhetoric, policies and the mystifying electoral college system aside, the outsider defeated the establishment candidate. To Russians that possibility is the heart of the democratic promise and something to be celebrated.

My worries are greater and started long before Trump rode down the escalator into history. For several years now the disconnect between the reality and the impression people in America have about life in Russia has gone from surprising to troubling and has now reached the stage of alarming. Of course, bad things happen here and there is injustice, but, these co-exist with my work as a teacher at a top University where I have total freedom in my classroom. Similar to schools in America, my 8th grader was taught how to protest in her civics class, she was against animal cruelty, her best friend was pro feminism and a boy was against movies because they are too expensive. Last week thousands of people in my City applied those skills in -20 temperatures to protest an increase in utility rates. 25 years into one of the newest democracies and it is not perfect, but more people are active than ever before pushing for the same things that people in America are fighting for, access to good healthcare, education and jobs.

Equally disorienting and dangerous is the tone and certainty that defines discourse on all sides of all issues in America today. The anger, sarcasm and meanness expressed by everyone towards anyone they don’t agree with, or who has made choices they don’t understand, is as shocking to me as the title President before the name Trump. Our ability to listen, respect differences and work with people we don’t agree with, that is what made America special. Take that away and the meaning of America is lost because intolerance contradicts everything developing democracies believe to be part of the essential idea, something to strive for.

Sometimes being an American here is a burden. Especially on trains when I would like to rest but people hear the accent and want me to tell them about America. My sense of responsibility to live up to their image of America and chat has never gone unrewarded. Not long ago I shared a coupe with a woman, Vera, who was only 59 but had no teeth, a bad heart and was a cancer survivor. Born in a village, she spent her life working in a factory. The Doctor said the 30 hour train ride was too dangerous, but she had to do it because her son wanted her to take care of her grandson so his wife could go back to work. As we neared the station, Vera’s cell phone rang. It was her son confirming they would meet her and asking how she felt. She answered, “I have lived to spend time with an American, I never dreamed that would happen, I am fine.” We need to remember that our great burden as Americans is to live up to the idealized image that many people around the world still have of us. They are watching and hoping.

Are There Two Americas? - Note for a discussion, "E Pluribus Unum? What Keeps the United States United."

Leon Hadar, American Conservative

Many wish to “unsee” their political adversaries.

image from article
It was said on the eve of the American Civil War that Southerners and Northerners shared the same country and believed in the same God but were dreaming different dreams. Citizens of Beszel and Ul Qoma, the two cities imagined by the British author China Miéville in his 2009 novel The City & The City [see - JB], don’t just dream different dreams.
While the cities occupy the same geographic space, their residents speak different languages, use distinct alphabets, embrace divergent cultures, and even look and behave differently. They walk alongside each other on the sidewalks and drive inches apart on the roads, but they are able to “unsee” each other, a skill they learn from an early age.
A resident of Beszel or Ul Qoma sees only the planes belonging to his city’s airline leaving from and arriving at the airport. Indeed, while there is only one physical airport, residents believe there is a separate airport for each city, a phenomenon that also occurs with international dialing codes and internet links. Police officers are not allowed to investigate crimes committed in the other city. And if a resident travels from one city to another, he ends up standing up in the exact place where he started, but able to see the other city. ...
Reading The City & The City in the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election, one imagines that many Americans would like to unsee those from other political communities. For all practical purposes, this may have already happened: most residents of Washington, DC; Manhattan; Marin County, Calif.; and Cambridge, Mass., didn’t know anyone who had voted for Donald Trump. West Virginians couldn’t have imagined someone casting a ballot for Hillary Clinton.
The writers of Saturday Night Live imagined something along these lines in a post-election skit, “The Bubble.” The Bubble is a place where Trump didn’t win the election, where “life can continue for progressive Americans just as before.” It is “a community of like-minded free thinkers … and no one else,” where hybrid cars, used-book stores, and “small farms with the rawest milk you’ve ever tasted” dominate.
Indeed, the observation that America is now split—between the liberal, secular, overeducated, cosmopolitan, pro-free-trade urban bicoastals who read the New York Times and voted for Hillary Clinton, and the conservative, traditional, high-school-educated, nationalist, protectionist rural residents of Flyover Country who watch Fox News and cast their ballots for Donald Trump—has become somewhat of a cliché.
There is certainly an element of a caricature in this narrative of effeminate Ivy Leaguers who shop at Whole Foods and cannot stand “real” Americans vs. racist, boorish, theocratic folks who gravitate to authoritarian figures and hate science. But as with every caricature, there is probably some element of truth in the notion of the Davos Man vs. the Middle American.
As a resident of Chevy Chase, Md., with its population of highly educated lawyers, economists, scientists, and media types, I have yet to encounter one Trump supporter in my neighborhood, where most residents looked as though as they were mourning a death in the family on November 9. Riding on a crowded elevator in my apartment building recently, I was interrogated by a loud neighbor who wanted to know if it was true that I voted for Trump. Before I had a chance to respond, those standing around started to distance themselves from me, and one young woman gave me a stare that seemed to say, “Even if you were the last male remaining alive on earth, I wouldn’t mate with you.” They all wanted to unsee me.
It’s not clear that these extreme sentiments are common outside the most politically homogenous enclaves. The caricature may be especially popular among intellectuals and activists who benefit from polarization, or would even prefer a real split that would allow them to expand their power and influence, where Democratic presidential nominees don’t need votes in Flyover Country and Fox News viewers don’t need to care what’s happening on MSNBC.
But even without a real separation, residents of one USA do not truly see the residents of the other. If Trump voters in the red states are all nativists and racists, how did Louisiana and South Carolina elect the children of Indian immigrants as their governors? And about that Davos Man: I know personally several Americans who took part in those meetings and can assure you that they don’t like artsy films, that they love the U.S. military, and that the only “cosmopolitan” thing about them is that they spend a lot of time in international airports.
Perhaps what we really don’t see is how similar we are. Trump won the election because he succeeded in getting the votes of white blue-collar workers, and the Democrats will continue carrying the African-American vote. But if one goes beyond the obvious electoral realities and studies the public’s attitudes on issues ranging from abortion and gun control to inequality and military intervention, the picture becomes more complex, and the ideological lines tend to crosshatch. We have not split into The USA & The USA quite yet.

This Century Is Broken - Note for a discussion, "E Pluribus Unum? What Keeps the United States United."

This Century Is Broken

David Brooks Feb. 21, 2017, New York Times

Image from article, with caption: A shuttered business in Wilkes-Barre, PA.

Most of us came of age in the last half of the 20th century and had our perceptions of
“normal” formed in that era. It was, all things considered, an unusually happy
period. No world wars, no Great Depressions, fewer civil wars, fewer plagues.
It’s looking like we’re not going to get to enjoy one of those times again. The 21st
century is looking much nastier and bumpier: rising ethnic nationalism, falling faith
in democracy, a dissolving world order.

At the bottom of all this, perhaps, is declining economic growth. As Nicholas
Eberstadt points out in his powerful essay “Our Miserable 21st Century,” in the
current issue of Commentary, between 1948 and 2000 the U.S. economy grew at a
per­-capita rate of about 2.3 percent a year.

But then around 2000, something shifted. In this century, per-­capita growth
has been less than 1 percent a year on average, and even since 2009 it’s been only 1.1
percent a year. If the U.S. had been able to maintain postwar 20th-­century growth
rates into this century, U.S. per­-capita G.D.P. would be over 20 percent higher than
it is today.

Slow growth strains everything else — meaning less opportunity, less optimism and
more of the sort of zero­-sum, grab­-what-­you­-can thinking that Donald Trump
specializes in. The slowdown has devastated American workers. Between 1985 and
2000, the total hours of paid work in America increased by 35 percent. Over the next
15 years, they increased by only 4 percent.

For every one American man aged 25 to 55 looking for work, there are three
who have dropped out of the labor force. If Americans were working at the same
rates they were when this century started, over 10 million more people would have
jobs. As Eberstadt puts it, “The plain fact is that 21st­-century America has witnessed
a dreadful collapse of work.”

That means there’s an army of Americans semi­-attached to their communities,
who struggle to contribute, to realize their capacities and find their dignity.
According to Bureau of Labor Statistics time­-use studies, these labor force dropouts
spend on average 2,000 hours a year watching some screen. That’s about the
number of hours that usually go to a full-­time job.

Fifty­-seven percent of white males who have dropped out get by on some form
of government disability check. About half of the men who have dropped out take
pain medication on a daily basis. A survey in Ohio found that over one three-­month
period, 11 percent of Ohioans were prescribed opiates. One in eight American men
now has a felony conviction on his record.

This is no way for our fellow citizens to live. The Eberstadt piece confirms one
thought: The central task for many of us now is not to resist Donald Trump. He’ll
seal his own fate. It’s to figure out how to replace him — how to respond to the slow
growth and social disaffection that gave rise to him with some radically different
policy mix.

The hard part is that America has to become more dynamic and more protective
— both at the same time. In the past, American reformers could at least count on the
fact that they were working with a dynamic society that was always generating the
energy required to solve the nation’s woes. But as Tyler Cowen demonstrates in his
compelling new book, “The Complacent Class,” contemporary Americans have lost
their mojo.

Cowen shows that in sphere after sphere, Americans have become less
adventurous and more static. For example, Americans used to move a lot to seize
opportunities and transform their lives. But the rate of Americans who are migrating
across state lines has plummeted by 51 percent from the levels of the 1950s and

Americans used to be entrepreneurial, but there has been a decline in start­-ups
as a share of all business activity over the last generation. Millennials may be the
least entrepreneurial generation in American history. The share of Americans under
30 who own a business has fallen 65 percent since the 1980s.

Americans tell themselves the old job­-for­-life model is over. But in fact
Americans are switching jobs less than a generation ago, not more. The job
reallocation rate — which measures employment turnover — is down by more than a
quarter since 1990.

There are signs that America is less innovative. Accounting for population
growth, Americans create 25 percent fewer major international patents than in 1999.
There’s even less hunger to hit the open road. In 1983, 69 percent of 17­-year-­olds
had driver’s licenses. Now only half of Americans get a license by age 18.

In different ways Eberstadt and Cowen are describing a country that is
decelerating, detaching, losing hope, getting sadder. Economic slowdown, social
disaffection and risk aversion reinforce one another.

Of course nothing is foreordained. But where is the social movement that is
thinking about the fundamentals of this century’s bad start and envisions an
alternate path? Who has a compelling plan to boost economic growth? If Trump is
not the answer, what is?

Monday, February 20, 2017

Donald Trump Changes The Name Of Black History Month - Note for a discussion, "E Pluribus Unum? What Keeps the United States United."

Brendan Kelly, opposingviews.com

President Donald Trump
President Donald Trump has reportedly changed the name of Black History Month.
According to TMZ, Trump, following a meeting with African-American leaders, has announced that Black History Month will now be referred to as African-American History Month.
A senior administration official revealed that the African-American leaders told Trump during the meeting that the term "black" is outdated and that "African American" is a more appropriate term.
The official also said that Trump considered the Smithsonian's addition of the National Museum of African-American History and Culture in making his decision.

Every other U.S. president since 1976 has declared February as Black History Month.
The White House held an event on Feb. 1, billed as an "African American History Month Listening Session," according to Time magazine.
During the event, Trump gave a speech in honor of African American History Month, in which he lashed out at the media for falsely reporting that he removed a bust of Martin Luther King Jr., which former President Barack Obama had placed in the Oval Office. Trump called the claims "fake news" and said, that "the statue is cherished," according to NPR.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

For decades they hid Jefferson’s relationship with her. Now Monticello is making room for Sally Hemings.

Krissah Thompson, Washington Post

 The room where historians believe Sally Hemings slept was just steps away from Thomas Jefferson’s bedroom. But in 1941, the caretakers of Monticello turned it into a restroom.
The floor tiles and bathroom stalls covered over the story of the enslaved woman, who was owned by Jefferson and had a long-term relationship with him. Their involvement was a scandal during his life and was denied for decades by his descendants. But many historians now believe the third president of the United States was the father of her six children.
Time, and perhaps shame, erased all physical evidence of her presence at Jefferson’s home here, a building so famous that it is depicted on the back of the nickel.
Now the floor tiles have been pulled up and the room is under restoration — and Hemings’s life is poised to become a larger part of the story told at Monticello.
When the long-hidden space opens to the public next year, it will mark a dramatic shift in the way one of the nation’s most revered Founding Fathers is portrayed to the more than 440,000 visitors who tour this landmark annually.
It’s part of a $35 million restoration project that will bolster Monticello’s infrastructure but also reconstruct and showcase buildings where enslaved people lived and worked. The man who wrote the words “all men are created equal” in 1776 was master of a 5,000-acre working plantation who over the course of his life owned 607 slaves.
“Visitors will come up here and understand that there was no place on this mountaintop that slavery wasn’t,” said Christa Dierksheide, a Monticello historian. “Thomas Jefferson was surrounded by people, and the vast majority of those people were enslaved.”
When Jefferson’s critics wrote salacious stories in the early 1800s alleging that the widowed politician had a long-term liaison with one of these slaves, it was said that he kept her “in a room of her own” at Monticello.
To pinpoint that room, historians relied on a description provided long ago by a Jefferson grandson, who placed it in the home’s south wing. Archaeologists are now peeling back layers in the 14 foot, 8 inch-by-13 foot, 2 inch room to reveal its original brick floor and plaster walls.
We don’t know how Hemings regarded her involvement with her owner. Historians do not know exactly how old she was when she lived there; and no portraits or photographs of her exist. But step into the brick room, the floor still covered in red dirt, and it is not hard to imagine her sitting in a chair, warming herself in front of the fireplace.
Emerging ‘outside the mystery’
For four decades, Jefferson kept meticulous records of every dollar he spent and the activities of the people he held as slaves — the fee for hiring a midwife to birth an enslaved woman’s child, the cost of sending someone on an errand. But Jefferson rarely wrote of Hemings, possibly in an attempt to cloak her role in his life.
Historians know that she was a seamstress and worked for a time as Jefferson’s chambermaid. She was a baby when Jefferson inherited the Hemings family from his father-in-law, a major slaveholder.
In 1787, when she was 14, Jefferson had Hemings accompany his young daughter Maria to Paris, where he was an envoy negotiating trade agreements. According to accounts from Hemings’s son Madison, their personal relationship began in France.

Thomas Jefferson is shown in a painting by the artist Rembrandt Peale. No known images of Sally Hemings, who historians believe bore six children by him, have been identified. (New York Historial Society via AP)

Sam Neill and Carmen Ejogo portrayed Jefferson and Hemings in a 2000 made-for-TV movie. The story, largely ignored at Monticello for years, drew the curiosity of many authors, screenwriters and historians. (Cliff Lipson/CBS)
Four of Hemings’s children lived to adulthood, and documentary evidence, along with genetic links found in DNA tests of Hemings and Jefferson descendants in 1998, led most historians to believe that Jefferson was their father. (Some skepticism about their paternity remains within two organizations with ties to some branches of Jefferson’s family — the Thomas Jefferson Heritage Society and the Monticello Association, which owns the cemetery where Jefferson is buried.)
Jefferson allowed these children to live free, and his family granted Sally Hemings an unofficial freedom after Jefferson’s death.
Monticello historians hope the restored room will humanize the image of Hemings, beyond the gossipy old accounts of Jefferson’s so-called “concubine.”
“Sally Hemings was better traveled than most Americans, so we want to tell a story about her that doesn’t limit her to Jefferson’s property,” said Gary Sandling, a vice president of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, which owns and runs Monticello as a museum.
Her space will be outfitted with period furniture and artifacts, such as bone toothbrushes and ceramics excavated on the property.
“It will portray her outside of the mystery,” said Niya Bates, the foundation’s public historian of slavery and African American life. “She was a mother, a sister, an ancestor for her descendants, and [the room’s presentation] will really just shape her as a person and give her a presence outside of the wonder of their relationship.”
Hemings’s new prominence at Monticello is part of a decades-long shift. Lucia “Cinder” Stanton, a now-retired historian who began working there in 1968, recalled when little was said about the Hemings family. A tour guide might mention that Sally’s brother John was a talented woodworker, who likely made some of the furniture in the house — but Sally’s name was never uttered.
In 1993, as Monticello celebrated the 250th anniversary of Jefferson’s birth, guides began giving a “Plantation Community” tour that incorporated stories of the enslaved. But little remained of Mulberry Row, where the slaves worked.
At its height, the complex just 200 feet from Jefferson’s house bustled with more than 20 workshops, sheds and dwellings. Enslaved teenagers wove textiles and forged nails there. But by the end of the 19th century, nearly all the buildings on Mulberry Row had been torn down; the space later became a parking lot. Down the mountain, the farms where field slaves grew tobacco and wheat became overgrown.
Stanton and her colleagues sought to recreate this lost world via an oral history project, interviewing more than 100 descendants of Monticello’s enslaved people and collecting images of those ancestors.
“Once you start to look at the details of the whole scene at Monticello — work, family life, punishment — it is richer,” said Stanton, who wrote a book about slavery on the plantation. “It is so much better to try to see something whole.”
Reevaluating a founder’s legacy
The restoration comes as many artists and scholars are taking a closer look at contradictions of Jefferson’s life that made previous generations uncomfortable.
“You’re in the home of the person who wrote the Declaration of Independence, who criticized slavery but was a slaveholder,” said Harvard law professor Annette Gordon-Reed, author of “The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family.” The story of Monticello is at its core “about the complicated nature of America’s founding,” she said.
The hit Broadway musical “Hamilton” portrayed Jefferson not as a heroic figure but as deeply flawed, even a bit of a hypocrite. The Smithsonian’s new National Museum of African American History and Culture presents a statue of Jefferson under his eloquent words about the equality of mankind — but surrounded by towers of bricks, each etched with the name of a man or woman he owned.
His is not the only legacy being reevaluated. A new book highlights George Washington’s “relentless pursuit” of a runaway slave. Yale University has said it will remove John C. Calhoun’s name from a residential college because of the Southern leader’s ardent promotion of slavery. Georgetown University has apologized for once owning slaves and plans to offer admissions preference to descendants of those sold for the benefit of the school.
And other historic plantations are recasting their exhibits to reflect a crueler truth “beyond the sort of old moonlight-and-magnolia plantation tour,” said Joshua Rothman, chair of the history department at the University of Alabama. “Talking about the history of the enslaved community is one thing, but recreating that space and trying to give it material substance takes it really to another level.”
At Monticello’s Mulberry Row, a rebuilt slave cabin has been staged as a space where John Hemmings (Sally’s brother spelled his name with two M’s) might have lived with his wife, Priscilla. An iron workshop has been reconstructed and a textile shop is being restored. The stables will soon be opened to highlight the men who cared for Jefferson’s prized horses.
Leslie Bowman, president of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, raised about $20 million of the funding for these projects from David Rubenstein, the private-equity billionaire and philanthropist who has a particular interest in Mulberry Row.
“If you are going to get people to come to historic sites, you should show them what it was really like,” said Rubenstein, who has also underwritten renovations to the slave quarters at Arlington’s Custis-Lee Mansion and James Madison’s Montpelier. “The good and bad of history.”
A UNESCO World Heritage site, Monticello remains a showpiece of neoclassical architectural, so leaders are wary of adding too much to the landscape. But new multimedia exhibits and a mobile phone app will help trace the lives of the people who labored there.
Last year, Monticello hosted a conference on slavery and freedom with the help of the Values Partnership Initiative, headed by Joshua DuBois, a faith adviser to the Obama White House. The group is also bringing in students from schools named for Jefferson, many of which have large minority populations, to discuss his legacy.
DuBois hopes Monticello can be “a place of reflection, a place to remind us of our resiliency, also to mourn to some extent.” After all, when Jefferson died, 130 people were sold at an auction block on the west lawn to pay his debts.
Among the first visitors to see the restorations of Mulberry Row was Bill Webb, a New Yorker whose great-great-great-grandfather Brown Colbert was born at Monticello on Christmas Day in 1785.
The visit “was a heavy experience,” said Webb, whose ancestor pounded out nails here. “It is a painful part of our American history. But it needs to be told.” 

A Short Guide to Famous Foreigners Fascinated with Poland


 Wisława Szymborska i Karl Dedecius (tłumacz poezji W. Szymborskiej na niemiecki) podczas Targów Książki w Warszawie, 1997, fot. Krzysztof Wojciechowski / Forum
Wisława Szymborska and Karl Dedecius (translator of Szymborska's poems into German) at the Warsaw Book Fair, 1997, photo: Krzysztof Wojciechowski / Forum
Andrukhovych, Brodsky, Davies, Gerould, Snyder, Sekiguchi...These are just some of many foreign academics and translators, who want to share Polish history and culture with the world. Who are they and what have they done?

Yurii Andrukhovych

Jurij Andruchowycz, fot. Leszek Zych / Reporter
Yurii Andrukhovych, photo: Leszek Zych / Reporter
Writer, poet, singer and translator from Ivano-Frankivsk. He has translated Czesław Miłosz’s poetry, A Dreambook for Our Time by Tadeusz Konwicki and Cinnamon Shops by Bruno Schulz into Ukranian. Together with Andrzej Stasiuk, he published the book My Europe: Two essays on the Europe Called Central. He also recorded an album with Karbido (a band from Wrocław) and Mikołaj Trzaska.

Timothy Garton Ash

Timothy Garton Ash, fot. Mateusz Skwarczek / AG
Timothy Garton Ash, photo: Mateusz Skwarczek / AG
The British historian’s main focus of interest is contemporary European history. He is fluent in German and Polish and published The Polish Revolution: Solidarity and The Uses of Adversity: Essays on the Fate of Central Europe. His essays can be read in The New York Review of Books, The Guardian, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and Gazeta Wyborcza.

Anders Bodegård

Anders Bodegård, fot. Bartosz Bobkowski / PAP
Anders Bodegård, photo: Bartosz Bobkowski / PAP
A Swedish Slavicist, translator of French and Polish literature. In 1967, he attended a course for Polish philology students at the University of Warsaw. In the 1980s, he lived in Kraków and taught Swedish at Jagiellonian University. Bodegård has translated and promoted the works of Ryszard KapuścińskiEwa LipskaZbigniew HerbertPaweł HuelleAntoni Libera, Józef Tischner, Adam Zagajewski and Wisława Szymborska. The latter had said, that without his translations, she would never have received the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Joseph Brodsky

Josif Brodski i Czesław Miłosz podczas spotkania na Uniwersytecie Jagiellońskim w Krakowie, 1990, fot. Maciej Socho / PAP
Joseph Brodsky and Czesław Miłosz during a meeting at Jagiellonian University in Krakow, 1990, photo: Maciej Socho
A poet, author of numerous essays and Nobel Laureate in Literature in 1987. He was a member of the board of the Paris-founded Zeszyty Literackie [Literary Notebooks] and translated  Czesław Miłosz’s and Zbigniew Herbert’s poetry into Russian. Irena Grudzińska-Gross wrote the book Miłosz and Brodsky: Magnetic Fields, devoted to the Nobel laureates’ friendship.

Francesco M. Cataluccio

Francesco M. Cataluccio, fot. Damian Klamka / East News
Francesco M. Cataluccio, photo: Damian Klamka
The Italian philosopher and Polish philologist studied in Florence and in Warsaw. He is the editor of the Italian editions of Witold Gombrowicz’s work as well as the Italian and Spanish joint edition of Bruno Schulz’s oeuvre. He is perhaps best known to Polish readers as the author of Immaturity: Disease of Our Time and I’m Going to See if It’s Better There. Cataluccio is a laureate of the Giuseppe Dessi National Literary Prize.

Norman Davies

Norman Davies, fot. Piotr Małecki / Forum
Norman Davies, photo: Piotr Małecki / Forum
British historian, a member of the Polish Academy of Learning, the British Academy and Knight of the Order of the White Eagle (Poland’s highest distinction). He lectured at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies at University College in London. In 2014, Davies became a Polish citizen and roots for the Cracovia Kraków soccer team.
His first book, dedicated to Polish history, based on his doctoral dissertation (White Eagle, Red Star: The Polish-Soviet War, 1919-20), was published in 1972. The book was published in the Polish underground in 1989, but its first official release (by the Znak Social Publishing Institute) wasn’t until 1997. Other works by Davies, share Polish history with English readers include God’s Playground. A History of Poland (1979) and Rising ’44. The Battle for Warsaw (2003). 

Karl Dedecius

Karl Dedecius, fot. Irena Jarosińska/Forum
Karl Dedecius, photo: Irena Jarosińska / Forum
Translator of Polish and Russian literature in Germany. He worked on translation theory, Polish-German relations, published works in both popular and academic the press and lectured at numerous universities. He was born in 1921 in Łódź. During World War II, he was recruited to the Wehrmacht and sent to the Eastern Front. He was captured near Stalingrad (1943-49) and used his time in captivity to learn Russian. In 1952, he emigrated to West Germany. He died in 2016 in Frankfurt am Main.
In 1980, Dedecius founded the Deutsches Polen Institut in Darmstadt (editor’s translation: German-Polish Studies Institute), which was in charge of Polish-German relations and the promotion of Polish literature. He was also an editor of the fifty-volume Polnische Bibliothek, which featured monographs on separate eras of Polish literature, from the Middle Ages until today, as well as German translations of Polish literature (including the works of Mickiewicz, Miłosz, Szymborska, Kruczkowski, ŻeromskiNałkowskaParnickiRymkiewicz and Herbert).
Dedecius has translated more than 300 Polish poets and writers. His most important publication is Panorama der Polnischen Literatur des 20. Jahrhunderts (Panorama of Polish Literature of the 20th century). He has also written a guide for translators called Translator’s Notebook (editor’s translation), the book Poles and Germans in Europe (editor’s translation) and a memoir European from Łódź.
In 2003, the Karl Dedecius Prize was created to recognize Polish translators of German literature and German translators of Polish literature.

Daniel Gerould

Okładka książki Quick Change: 28 Theatre Essays & 4 Plays in Translation, 2010. Daniel Gerould, fot. archiwum Paula Bargetto, materiały prasowe wyd. Martin E. Segal Theatre Center
Cover of Quick Change: 28 Theatre Essays & 4 Plays in Translation by Daniel Gerould, 2010, photo: courtesy of Paul Bargetto, press materials: Martin E. Segal Theatre Centre
The Swedish theatrologist, fascinated with Polish culture, died in 2012. He started to study Polish after his encounter with Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz’s theatre. In the Anglo-Saxon world, especially in the USA, Gerould became a real ambassador of Polish theatre. When, in the 1970s, he became a professor of theatre and comparative literature at New York’s most prestigious schools, the Graduate Centre of the City University of New York (where he lectured his whole life), his fascination with Polish theatre was shared by his students to the extent, that one can safely say, that there isn’t a single serious theatre researcher in the States, who doesn’t know Witkacy, Witold Gombrowicz, Tadeusz KantorJerzy GrotowskiSławomir Mrożek or Tadeusz Różewicz. Because of Gerould’s work at the Martin E. Segal Theatre Center at CUNY, of which he was the director, that list was modified and expanded year by year, to include younger names such as Dorota Masłowska or Przemysław Wojcieszek.
He was the author of essentially all of the English translations of Witkacy published in the USA, among which are plays and writings of the author of  The Shoemaker. All of Witkacy’s American adaptations (and there were more than 20 of them between 1966 and 1976 alone!) were based on Gerould’s translations. His inexhaustible energy, both in translation and research, resulted in many other translations of, among others, Mrożek, Stanisława Przybyszewska (translated with his wife Jadwiga Kosicka), poems of Teatrzyk Zielona Gęś (editor’s translation: The Little Theatre of the Green Goose) and many others. He left a huge legacy of works on theatre and drama theory as well numerous essays.

Ola Hnatiuk

Ola Hnatiuk, fot. Nowa Europa Wschodnia
Ola Hnatiuk, photo:  Now Europa Wschodnia (New Eastern Europe)
Ukrainian Studies expert, an alumna of the University of Warsaw, a professor at the Institute of Slavic Studies at the Polish Academy of Sciences. She translates Ukrainian literature into Polish (e.g. the novels of Yurii Andrukhovych, The History of Ukraine, by Natalia Yakovenko, Katyń. On the Traces of Polish Officers [editor’s translation] by Oleksandr Zinchenko). Her doctoral dissertation A Farewell to the Empire: Ukranian Debates on Identity, from 2003, was awarded a Przegląd Wschodni Prize and Jerzy Giedroyć Literary Award. In 2015, she published the book Courage and Fear about the Polish, Jewish and Ukrainian intelligentsia of Lviv during the war.

Padraic Kenney

Padraic Kenney, fot. z archiwum prywatnego autora
Padraic Kenney, photo: courtesy of the author
The American historian’s main focus is the contemporary history of Poland and Central and Eastern Europe. He is the head of the Polish Studies Centre at Indiana University. Some of his works about Poland under the communist regime have been translated to Polish: A Carnival of Revolution – Central Europe 1989Wrocławskie Zadymy (editor’s translation: Riots of Wrocław) and Rebuilding Poland: Workers and Communists, 1945-1950.

Akiko Kasuya

Okładka książki Akiko Kasuya ''Modern Art in Central Europe'', reprodukcja: Dagmara Smolna
Cover of Akiko Kasuya’s book Modern Art in Central Europe, reproduction: Dagmara Smolna
An expert on Polish art and professor at the Kyoto City University of Arts. She studied philosophy at Jagiellonian University’s Department of Aesthetics. Kasusya is the author of many works on Polish Avant-garde: Polish Avant-garde Art: Applied Fantasy for Survival and Modern Art in Central Europe (together with Toshino Iguchi). She is the artistic director of a festival in Tatsuno, to which she has invited many Polish artists, e.g. Mirosław Bałka.

Andreas Lawaty

Andreas Lawaty, fot. Adam Guz / Reporter
Andreas Lawaty, photo: Adam Guz / Reporter
German historian and Slavicist, born in Bytom. He worked in the Deutsches Polen Institut in Darmstadt and is editor of the fifty-volume series of Polish literature in German translations published by the Polnische Bibliothek. He is the author of many books on Polish-German culture and history, along with the book Intellectual Visions and Revisions in the History of Polish-German Relationship of the 19th to 21st Centuries.

Wiktoria Moczałowa

Wiktoria Moczałowa, fot. Rafał Guz / PAP
Wiktoria Moczałowa, photo: Rafał Guz / PAP
Philologist, Slavicist, and head of the Association of Scientists and Jewish Studies Professors at the Sefer Universities in Moscow. Polish and Czech literature is her main focus of research. She has published works in Polish and Russian on Polish literature and is a recurring guest at academic conferences in Poland. Her publications include: Еcha poezji Jana Kochanowskiego w literaturze rosyjskiej (editor’s translation: Echoes of Jan Kochanowski’s Poetry in Russian Literature) and Nieznany egzemplarz siedemnastowiecznego wydania polskiego Sowizrzała odnaleziony w Moskwie a problem edycji naukowej tego utworu (editor’s translation: Unknown Edition of the 17thCentury Polish Till Eulenspiegel Found in Moscow and the Problem of its Scientific Edition).

Agneta Pleijel

Agneta Pleijel, fot. Marcin Obara / PAP
Agneta Pleijel, photo: Marcin Obara / PAP
Swedish playwright and poet. Together with her husband, Marcin Zaremba Bielawski, she has translated Zbigniew Herbert’s poetry into Swedish. Pleijel’s book Lord Nevermore talks about anthropologist Bronisław Malinowski’s affiliations with Witkacy.

Martin Pollack

Martin Pollack, fot. Maciej Zienkieiwcz / AG
Martin Pollack, photo: Marcin Zienkiewicz / AG
Austrian writer, reporter, Slavicist, historian and translator. He studied at the University of Vienna, the University of Warsaw and in the former Yugoslavia. He translated the works of Andrzej Bobkowski, Ryszard Kapuściński, Mariusz Wilk and Wilhelm Dichter into German. In his own books, printed by the Czarne publishing house, he writes about and analyses Polish history: To Galicia: Of Chasidim, Huzules, Poles and RutheniansWhy Did They Shoot Stanisławów?Sarmatian Landscapes.
In 2007, he received the Karl Dedecius Prize and in 2016, the Kapuściński Award for his achievements in translation.

Brian Porter-Szucs

Brian Porter Szucs oraz okładka książki "Poland in the Modern World: Beyond Martyrdom", fot. kadr z filmu Pope Francis' Stands on Immigration Will Add to Debate in the U.S., University of Michigan
Brian Porter-Szucs and the cover of his book Poland in the Modern World: Beyond Martyrdom, photo: still from the movie Pope Francis’ Stands on Immigration Will Add to Debate in the U.S., University of Michigan
Historian, writer and professor at the University of Michigan. Since 1994, he has researched the history of the Catholic Church as well as Polish history, particularly the 19thand 20th centuries. In 2010, he became head of the Polish Studies Association, an international organisation promoting an interdisciplinary approach to studying Polish history, literature, culture, society and politics. Polish readers can learn about his research in When Nationalism Began to Hate: Imagining Modern Politics in Nineteenth-Century Poland.

Tokimasa Sekiguchi

Tokimasa Sekiguch, fot. Łukasz Krajewski / AG
Tokimasa Sekiguchi, photo: Łukasz Krajewski / AG
Polish philologist, translator, professor of Polish studies. He studied French literature and comparative culture, in 1974-1976 he was a Polish government scholar at Jagiellonian University. In 1992, Sekiguchi began to work at the Department of Polish Studies of the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies (opened just a year before), which he was head of until March 2013, after which he retired and the department closed. He published a series of essays in Japanese: Pōrando to Tasha (Poland and Its Strangers – editor’s translation) and translated Jan Kochanowski’s LamentsBallads and Romances by Mickiewicz, Czesław Miłosz’s The History of Polish LiteratureMother Joan of the Angels by Jarosław IwaszkiewiczTowards a Biography by Jan KottFour Plays of Stanisław Ignacy WitkiewiczIvona, Princess of Burgundia by Witold Gombrowicz and the Correspondence of Fryderyk Chopin, vol. I, 1816-1831.

Marci Shore

Marci Shore, fot. Artur Reszko / PAP
Marci Shore, photo: Artur Reszko / PAP
American historian, interested in Central and Eastern Europe. She is a lecturer at Yale University. In 2006, she published Caviar and Ashes about the relationship of Polish writers of the inter-war period with the ideology of the communist regime ­­– from Aleksander Wat and Bruno Jasieński to Władysław Broniewski and Wanda Wasilewska. In her second book, published in 2013, The Taste of Ashes, she writes about the fall of the communist regime from the perspective of her own journeys to Poland, the Czech Republic and Romania. She translated The Black Seasons, a wartime memoir of Michał Głowiński, a Polish literature critic and theoretician.

Timothy Snyder

Timothy Snyder, 2011, fot. Magda Starowieyska/Fotorzepa/Forum
Timothy Snyder, 2011, photo: Magda Starowieyska / Fotorzepa /Forum
American historian, a professor at Yale University, Snyder specialises in the history of nationalism in Middle-Eastern Europe. In the book The Reconstruction of Nations: Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania and Belarus, 1569-1999, he strives to track the birth of national identities of the countries in the region. He also wrote a biography of Kazimierz Kelles-Krauze and Bloodlands, a history of Central Europe in 1933-1945 from the perspective of victims murdered for political reasons.

Adrian Thomas

Okładki książek "Bacewicz: Chamber and Orchestral Music'', ''Górecki'',  ''Polish Music since Szymanowski'', fot. materiały prasowe wyd.
Covers of Bacewicz: Chamber and Orchestral Music, Górecki, Polish Music since Szymanowski, photo: publishing house’s press materials
British composer and musicologist specialising in Polish music. He studied in Nottingham, Cardiff and Kraków, as a student of Bogusław Schaeffer. Some of his most valued books include Bacewicz: Chamber and Orchestral MusicGórecki (published both in Polish and English), Polish Music since Szymanowski and a monography of Witold Lutosławski’Cello Concerto (in the making).
In 1993, he organised the Polska! Festival, in honour of the 80th birthday of Lutosławski and the 60th birthdays of Górecki’s and Penderecki.

Tomas Venclova

Tomas Venclova, fot. Adam Guz / Reporter
Tomas Venclova, photo: Adam Guz / Reporter
Lithuanian poet and essayist, literary critic and translator. He was a member of the editing board of the Paris-founded Zeszyty Literackie, and actively participated in the anti-communist movement in Lithuania and Russia. In 1977, he emigrated to the United States, where he taught Slavic and Russian literature at Yale University. Venclova was friends with Czesław Miłosz and Joseph Brodsky. He translated the poems of Norwid, Miłosz, Herbert and Szymborska into Lithuanian. He also wrote a monograph on Aleksander Wat. He currently lives in New Haven, but he is a frequent guest in Vilnius and Kraków.

Ołeksandr Zinczenko

Wykład Ołeksandra Zinczenki "Ukraiński ślad katyński", IPN Warszawa, 2 czerwca 2014, fot. Piotr Życieński / IPN
Oleksandr Zinchenko’s lecture on the Ukranian traces of the Katyń massacre, Institute of National Remembrance, Warsaw, 2 Jun 2014, photo: Piotr Życieński / IPN
Historian, journalist and writer, a lecturer at the H.S. Skovoroda Kharkiv National Pedagogical University. He worked at the Ukrainian Institute of National Remembrance, is a television presenter and contributor to Historic Truth (editor’s translation). Zinchenko is also the author of the first Ukrainian book about the Katyń massacre: Katyń. In the Footsteps of Polish Officers (editor’s translation), which was based on a documentary he directed.
Originally written by Filip Lech, translated by WF, edited by NR, 14 Feb 2017