Remembering Tadeusz Konwicki

Tadeusz Konwicki

Tadeusz Konwicki

Polish writer and film director Tadeusz Konwicki has died at the age of 88. Less known to or popular with the younger generations, he was one of key personalities in Polish literary and cinematic life in the second half of the 20th century. His books and films inspired other artists and provided a formative experience for many. Janusz Głowacki, a writer and admirer of Konwicki’s prose and persona, emphasises the author’s uncanny talent for intermingling the absurd with the realistic or disgusted derision with fondest affection in a single piece of work. “The Polish Complex” by Konwicki was the first novel to be published illegally in post-war Poland, where official censorship would not have allowed such a text to be printed. Followed by “A Minor Apocalypse”, which was to become a cult book, it paved the way for more underground publications by independent-minded authors critical of the prevailing propaganda. In his work Konwicki was a frequent advocate of lost causes and defeated individuals. Discreet, reserved and good-mannered he showed courage and rectitude without showing them off. Konwicki disliked bombastic declarations of patriotism, preferring a quiet, hushed literary and cinematic expression of his concern for public matters. His life experiences led him to distrust all institutions of power. Rather than following fashions, Konwicki was a trendsetter himself. His table at Czytelnik café was famed by Warsaw artists. It was there that in 1956 he started regularly meeting Leopold Tyrmand, Irena Szymańska and Gustaw Holoubek. His occasional don’t-join-me-at-the-table announcements were more of a joke than a serious refusal to engage in conversation. As long as the interlocutor was able to converse interestingly, that is. Later Konwicki, Holoubek and Andrzej Łapicki frequented Blikle café. Tadeusz Konwicki stopped writing books in 1995, but continued to regale people around him with his hallmark sharp and sarcastic wit.
Polskie Radio Dwójka

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