Holy Week: A Novel of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising
Written by Jerzy Andrzejewski
Forward by Jan Gross
Introduction & Commentary by Oscar E. Swan
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 increasingly traumatized by her situation, Malecki questions his decision to shelter Irena in the apartment where Malecki, his pregnant wife, and his younger brother reside. 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 during the final moments of its existence. Holy Week is a troubling story of failed human possibilities set against the backdrop of the destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto.
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 during World War II with such unflinching honesty. Presented here with thoughtful and compelling commentary by translator Oscar Swan, Holy Week is one of the foremost literary treatments of prejudice, patriotism, moral incertitude, and the interventions of a perverse and indifferent fate.
Jerzy Andrzejewski's 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.
"Holy Week, published in Poland in 1945 and only now appearing in the West, creates in one slim volume a vivid world peopled by believable and sympathetic characters whose lives depict with gripping accuracy an entire historical era. . . Urgently recommended to all readers with an interest in world history."
Library Journal, starred review
"The relentless conflicts between and within these characters transform what appears to be a simple issue of national neglect into a hauntingly real drama of agonizing personal decisions and personal failures."
Virginia Quarterly Review
Jerzy Andrzejewski (1909-1983) best known for his novel Ashes and Diamonds, gained a reputation as a writer of moral conflict. In 1949 he was elected president of the Polish Writers' Union, but he resigned in 1957 as a protest against government censorship. Later he was a founding member of the intellectual opposition group KOR. He was a lifelong resident of Warsaw and one of Poland's most significant twentieth-century novelists.
OSCAR E. SWAN is professor of Slavic languages and literatures at the University of Pittsburgh and the author of numerous textbooks, grammars, readers, and translations of Polish, Russian, Slovak, and Old Church Slavic.
Publishing House: Ohio University Press, Athens 2007
Softcover book measuring 6" x 9"
152 pages, photographs from Andrzej Wajda's Film Holy Week
English Language Version
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