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UCL SSEES Research Blog


A showcase of research from UCL's School of Slavonic and East European Studies staff and students


Tadeusz Różewicz: a tribute

By Blog Admin, on 25 April 2014

Tadeusz Różewicz in 2006 (CC BY-SA 2.5)

Tadeusz Różewicz in 2006
(CC BY-SA 2.5)

Urszula Chowaniec writes in memory of the Polish poet Tadeusz Różewicz, who has passed away at the age of 92.

Tadeusz Różewicz (9 October 1921 – 24 April 2014) was one of the Poland’s greatest writers. Remarkable for his simultaneous mastery of poetry, prose and drama, he was nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature. Tadeusz Różewicz has been translated into over forty languages. The most recent English-language volumes, Recycling (2001), New Poems (2007) and Sobbing Superpower (2011), were finalists for the 2003 Popescu Prize (UK), the 2008 National Book Critics Award (USA) and the 2012 Griffin Prize (Canada) respectively. In 2007 he was awarded the European Prize for Literature. The latest English publication, his Mother Departs (Matka odchodzi, 1999 , translated by Barbara Bogoczek, Edited and introduced by Tony Howard, published by Stork Press 2013), exploring the life of his mother Stefania, is perhaps his most personal work. It won the Nike Prize in 2000, Poland’s most prestigious literary award. He lived in the city of Wrocław, Poland.

Tadeusz Różewicz’s translators write:

Early this morning Tadeusz Różewicz passed away, and with him the 20th Century has been laid to rest. No writer experienced the history of Poland so profoundly and fully, no writer transformed that century of oppression and hope into poetry, drama and prose with such humanity and truth.

It was in the 1960s that great young British and Irish poets like Seamus Heaney and Tom Paulin found through Różewicz and his translator Adam Czerniawski a way to write poetry after Auschwitz. And while Samuel Beckett was the voice of the Theatre of the Absurd speaking in English and French, the plays of Tadeusz Różewicz proved you can look into the abyss and still laugh.

Barbara Bogoczek & Tony Howard, 24 April 2014, London


Death will not correct
a single line of verse
she is no proof-reader
she is no sympathetic
lady editor

a bad metaphor is immortal

a shoddy poet who has died
is a shoddy dead poet

a bore bores after death
a fool keeps up his foolish chatter
from beyond the grave

(translation: Adam Czerniawski)


Urszula Chowaniec is a Teaching Fellow in Polish language at UCL SSEES.

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