By Bolesław Prus
Introduced by Stanisław Barańczak
Translated by David Welsh
Set in Warsaw, under Russian control, The Doll is a classic of Polish literature. It is a novel that takes in the whole nineteenth century, and looks ahead to modern questions of empire, revolution, anti- Semitism, and socialism. The embattled aristocracy, the new men of finance, Dickensian tradesmen, and the urban poor all come vividly to life on the vast, superbly detailed canvas.
Bołeslaw Prus is often compared to Chekhov, and Prusís masterpiece might be described as an intimate epic, a beautifully detailed, utterly absorbing exploration of life in late-nineteenth-century Warsaw, which is also a prophetic reckoning with some of the social forces-imperialism, nationalism, anti-Semitism among them-that would soon convulse Europe as never before. But The Doll is above all a brilliant novel of character, dramatizing conflicting ideas through the various convictions, ambitions, confusions, and frustrations of an extensive and varied cast. At the center of the book are three men from three different generations. Prusís fatally flawed hero is Wokulski, a successful businessman who yearns for recognition from Polandís decadent aristocracy and falls desperately in love with the highborn, glacially beautiful Izabela. Wokulskiís story is intertwined with those of the incorrigibly romantic old clerk Rzecki, nostalgic for the revolutions of 1848, and of the bright young scientist Ochocki, who dreams of a future full of flying machines and other marvels, making for a book of great scope and richness that is, as Stanisław Barańczak writes in his introduction, at once "an old-fashioned yet still fascinating love story... , a still topical diagnosis of societyís ills, and a forceful yet subtle portrayal of a tragically doomed man."
Publishing House: New York Review Books, 2011
SoftCover book measuring 5" x 8"
English Language Version
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