Andrzej Bobkowski’s “Szkice piórkiem” in Russian

A masterpiece of Polish diary writing, Szkice piórkiem (“Wartime Notebooks”) by Andrzej Bobkowski, has been recently published in Russia. Наброски пером (Франция 1940–1944), as reads the title of the Russian translation, was published by the Limbakh publishing house. The publication of the book translated by Irina Kisyelova was supported by the Book Institute as part of the ©POLAND Translation Programme.

Four years of writing, thousands of kilometres travelled, hundreds of notes. Andrzej Bobkowski's notes were initially supposed to be a diary written for his own use, a testimony of the time of war, a record of reflections on the changes in Europe. With time, they became a prophetic collection of accurate political diagnoses, an insightful reflection on the changes that took place in Paris, France, and Europe at that time, a portrait of the times, but also of a man looking critically at humanity, culture, and the condition of Europeans.

Kaleidoscopic, vividly and engagingly written, this work compels questions, delights with its diversity, and provokes the question of why it is only now that we discover this writer and activist, an enthusiast of life in all its complexity, who died in Guatemala. Above all, however, it is a sensual paean to life, a meticulous record of Bobkowski's journey by bike from the south of France to Paris. Bobkowski's Epicureanism stands in opposition to the trauma of war, proving the author's immanent need to remain himself, to be free, and to experience life in its entirety. Full of fierce, intelligent comments, published in 1956 by the Parisian "Kultura" (a leading Polish-émigré literary-political magazine), Wartime Notebooks is a masterpiece of Polish diary writing.