Synopses & Reviews
Originally published in 1912, this lyrical novel is set in a manor house in central Poland during the January Uprising of 1863 to 1864, when a volunteer Polish army futilely fought the Russian occupation. A wounded soldier appears outside the house and is cared for by Salomea, the young ward of the absent owners, who has been left in the manor with an aged servant. As the two strive to conceal the soldier's presence during brutal and invasive visits by the Russians, Salomea finds herself falling in love with her patient.
"Their dramatic story is in itself enough to make the book a lasting pleasure. But Zeromski is also writing about a nation that hadn't actually existed since the previous century, and it is the complexity of his vision--of a Polish spirit without a Poland--that makes the novel a classic of European literature."
It is a complex, dramatic, masterfully told story in which a passionate love affair is played out against a background of wartime privations, and the Polish struggle for independence is set against other profound conflicts of gender, sexuality, and class. Although its sense of time and place is conveyed with convincing authenticity, its narrative and thematic composition has a universal resonance.
set in a rambling manor house in central Poland during the doomed January Uprising of 1863 to 1864, when a volunteer Polish army futilely fought the Russian occupation of the eastern partition. A badly wounded soldier appears outside the house and is taken in and cared for by Salomea, the young ward of the absent owners, who has been left in the manor with an aged servant. As the two strive to conceal the insurgent's presence during increasingly brutal and invasive visits by the Russian forces, Salomea finds herself falling in love with her patient.
Salomea is strong, resourceful, shrewd, and passionate; her profound commitment to the cause of Polish liberation, and to her own part in this struggle, is matched by a restless questioning of the devastation the uprising has brought about. She is a woman both of action and of reflection and belongs with Emma Bovary, Anna Karenina, and Effi Briest as one of the great literary creations of the age.
About the Author
Stefan Zeromski (1864-1925) was the leading Polish novelist of his generation and is widely acknoweldged to be one of the greatest writers his country has ever produced. Czeslaw Milosz has called him "the conscience of Polish literature." His work has been translated into dozens of languages, and in the 1920s he was a contender for the Nobel Prize. Among his other novels are Ashes
(1904), The Homeless
(1900), and Before the Spring
Bill Johnston teaches at the University of Minnesota. His translation of Boleslaw Prus's The Sins of Childhood and Other Stories was published by Northwestern University Press in 1996. His other translations include two novels by Andrzej Szczypiorski and work by Adam Zagajewski, Jerzy Pilch, and Krzysztof Kamil Baczynski.
Table of Contents
The Translator's Introduction
The Faithful River