Synopses & Reviews
At the height of the Nazi extermination campaign in the Warsaw Ghetto, a young Jewish woman, Irena, seeks the protection of her former lover, a young architect, Jan Malecki. By taking her in, he puts his own life and the safety of his family at risk. Over a four-day period, Tuesday through Friday of Holy Week 1943, as Irena becomes increasinglytraumatized by her situation, Malecki questions his decision to shelter Irena in the apartment where Malecki, his pregnant wife, and his younger brotherreside. Added to his dilemma is the broader context of Poles attitudes toward the Jewish question” and the plight of the Jews locked in the ghetto duringthe final moments of its existence.
Few fictional works dealing with the war have been written so close in time to the events that inspired them. No other Polish novel treats the range of Polish attitudes toward the Jews with such unflinching honesty.
Jerzy Andrzejewskis Holy Week (Wielki Tydzien, 1945), one of the significant literary works to be published immediately following the Second World War, now appears in English for the first time.
This translation of Andrzejewskis Holy Week began as a group project in an advanced Polish language course at the University of Pittsburgh. Class members Daniel M. Pennell, Anna M. Poukish, and Matthew J. Russin contributed to the translation; the instructor, Oscar E. Swan, was responsible for the overall accuracy and stylistic unity of the translation as well as for the biographical and critical notes and essays.
"As armed battle rages in the Warsaw ghetto during the week preceding Easter of 1943, Jan Malecki, a Polish architect and cold, indecisive leftist, reluctantly takes in his Jewish old flame, Irena Lilien. Irena was a wealthy, bewitching beauty, but is now an embittered homeless fugitive with forged Aryan papers. Jan's pious and pregnant wife, Anna, is kind if condescending to Irena, and Jan's revolutionary brother identifies with the Jewish insurgents. But Irena, almost raped by a neighbor, is informed on by the neighbor's acidly anti-Semitic wife. Outside on the street, Polish children flush an emaciated Jewish boy out of hiding, chasing him into the grip of a German soldier who shoots him dead, and curious bystanders vie for a glimpse of the bloodletting inside the walls of the burning ghetto. Andrzejewski (1909 1983) writes blocky characters, and the translation, much of which was done by students of University of Pittsburgh professor Swan, is awkward. But the book, first published in 1945, remains a landmark for its scathing indictment of everyday Warsaw's savage indifference to the plight of Jews during WWII." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
About the Author
Best known for his novel Ashes and Diamonds, Jerzy Andrzejewski (19091983) gained a reputationas a writer of moral conflict. In 1949 he was electedpresident of the Polish Writers Union, but he resigned in 1957 as a protest against government censorship. Later he was a founding member of theintellectual opposition group KOR.