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A Life of Solitude: Stanislawa Przybyszewska, a Biographical Study with Selected Letters Paperback – April 1, 1989

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

It is difficult to imagine an audience for these cranky letters, so obsessive that their recipients probably threw them away without a second thought. According to Kosicka, a translator, and Gerould, Kosicka's husband and a professor of theater at City University of New York, Przybyszewska (1901-1935), an illegitimate daughter of an acclaimed Polish writer, merits attention for the genius she evinces in her play about the French Revolution, The Danton Case. But because that work awaits publication and staging in English, the trials and tribulations of the Polish Przybyszewska's literary career--the chief subject of her epistles--elude appreciation. Determined to be "100% a writer," she isolated herself at age 24, moving into a tiny, poorly heated apartment which she rarely left, writing for eight to nine hours each night and sleeping during the day, and maintaining contact with others almost exclusively through correspondence (of which she kept copies). An addiction to morphine only deepened her peculiarities and her immoderate sense of self-importance. Illustrations not seen by PW.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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"A Life of Solitude records a unique story of human ambition and breakdown." --Times Literary Supplement
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 247 pages
  • Publisher: Northwestern University Press; 1 edition (April 1, 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810108089
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810108080
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,961,124 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
The value of this book to its reader depends equally on the reader's respect for Przybyszewska as a writer, and on how seriously they see themselves engaged in their own field. This collection of letters held the same value for me, as a writer, as "Letters to a Young Poet," initially did, and for the same reasons. It transmits a sympathy with being young and caught up in a subject that removes you a little from the world, and assures you that, yes, in removing yourself, you are as brilliant as you think you are.
There is a lot to identify with here, and if Przybyszewska's self-admitted, honest egoism is a little hard to take, I suspect that it is because she broaches many of the same questions that most people ask themselves in their twenties. She surrounded herself with narratives of great legends and, eventually, found herself living in their realities rather than her own. Before this, though, she spent a great deal of time questioning whether or not she could become one of them, and this is the value of her letters. She identified herself, in them, as both a Raskolnikov-type figure, and as the person in history who understood Robespierre better than anyone else. (Just in case you missed the joy of being twenty-one:)
If these identifications feel a little overblown from the outside, though, they are qualified by Przybyszewska's own realization that these identifications are necessary to her commitment to the writing process. "The Danton Affair" is proof enough that this approach- when she managed to finish her projects- met with incredible success. This play, with "Thermidor," shows an incredible grasp of human characters in the middle of events that are constantly threatening to accelerate beyond their control.
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