Stanislaw Rembek and Jerzy Andrzejewski
Your comments about "crowding out" and censorship practised in Soviet-occupied Poland in 1945-1989 (SR, XIV/1, January 1994) are right on target. One prominent example is Stanislaw Rembek who was sentenced to nonexistence by the communists. In 1927, Rembek wrote a novel titled Knout [Nagan] which was republished by Czytelnik in 1970, in a small number of copies. In the Introduction, editor Tomasz Burek called Rembek "a writer suffering from bad luck" and "a literary witness whose mouth was closed by political history." But Mr. Burek never followed up on that, and he did not even mention Rembek in the 1993 Kultura survey of the suppressed writers. In regard to Rembek, the communist sociological experiment worked almost perfectly. His 1937 novel In the Open Fields [W polu] which describes the Polish-Soviet war of 1920, was hated by the communists. Consequently, his 1947 novel The Sentencing of Frank Klos [Wyrok na Franka Klosa] which dealt with the Nazi occupation of Poland, had no chance to compete with the communist-launched Ashes and Diamonds by Jerzy Andrzejewski. Had Rembek been given a chance to compete, all that would have been left of Andrzejewski would be an empty bottle and cigarette ashes.
Tomasz Bogus, Wurzburg, Germany
Tomasz Bogus is a Polish writer presently residing in Warsaw. His works have appeared in Nowy Swiat and other Polish periodicals. His "Humoreaters" appears elsewhere in this issue. Ed.
The NKVD "Instructions"
The NKVD "Instructions" found in the Bierut Archives (SR, XIV/1, January 1994) are fascinating! Great job.
Bohdan Vitvitsky, Summit, New Jersey
Polemics about Medieval Literature of Poland
It is most disappointing that in reviewing my book Medieval Literature of Poland: An Anthology (SR, XIV/1, January 1994), Professor Henry R. Cooper, Jr., did not say anything at all about Polish medieval literature. He devoted not a single paragraph to a discussion of the literary value of individual texts or to the significance of this formative period in Polish culture and history.
Cooper made two minor orthographic and typographic corrections for which I am grateful. He pointed out that the inhabitants of ancient Philistia were the Philistines (fn. 6, p. 21 of my book), and that the word "fast" should replace "feast" on p. 35.
Cooper is concerned that I translated some works from the Polish rather than from the original medieval Latin. The reason is that texts written originally in Latin exist as literary works in Poland only in the vernacular. The general public as well as high school and university students read the works of Gall, Kadlubek, Dlugosz, and others in Polish translation rather than in Latin. Many excellent and richly annotated translations by prominent writers and experts on Polish medieval Latin have become an integral part of the Polish literary canon. These texts served as my sources.
The reviewer's only argument bolstering his assertion that translating from the Polish may lead to errors is a disquisition on Kadlubek who "oczyszcza kopc'ce =lczywo" (which I translated as "cleaned resinous chips blackened with smoke"). The reviewer's translation, "carried a guttering light which he had to rub constantly to keep lighted," is unconvincing, to put it mildly. The medieval Latin demungo, a rare and probably corrupt verb, may mean "to put in order." (Thesaurus Linguae Latinae, V:512) In the text in question, it is likely that the scribe was tending the source of light.
The reviewer reproaches me for failing to write introductory notes that would stand in the place of whole studies. It should be obvious to any reader of my book that with limited space for notes and footnotes, I was unable to incorporate most of the existing commentaries on individual texts. I discussed "Bogurodzica" in the Introduction (pp. xxvi ff.) and on p. 65, but omitted Jakobson's hypothesis of the possible Byzantine origin of the hymn as more appropriate for scholarly discussions.
The reviewer's remaining remarks are mere quibbles, most of them inaccurate and scarcely deserving of refutation. My source for fn. 2 on p. 19 about the church Na Skalce was Tadeusz Grudzinski's Boleslaus the Bold and Bishop Stanislaus (Warsaw: Interpress 1985, p. 93) in which the author meticulously reconstructed the events surrounding St. Stanislaus' death. He concluded that "During the night that followed, the clergy of the Cracow chapter probably removed Stanislaus' remains from the Wawel yard and temporarily buried them in St. Michael's Church on the Cliff." The name Maccabee is Hebrew (see fn. 5, p. 21), while Maccabaeus is Greek. Jahveh is a variant of Yahveh (see Webster). The existence of King Kodrus (Codrus) was not Kadlubek's conjecture; in the Middle Ages, it was generally believed that he and other Athenian kings did exist. The Oxford Classical Dictionary  is guarded in its pronouncement: "Codrus, supposedly king of Athens in the eleventh century B.C." Line 25, p. 76 of my book: "At the time of evening mass," does have an explanation: "At the time of completa, the last evening hour of the breviary," as I did not want to use in the text the rarely used compline. The whole poem is about the "canonical hours of the Savior's passion," with the completa often taking place during evening mass. It is not true that in my translation of "Bogurodzica" "the Virgin Mary is addressed as you whereas Jesus, as thou." Neither of these pronouns appears in the poem. The name of Jelicz is misspelled in the review.
Or consider the following translation from the Polish of the fifteenth-century legend of St. Alexis:
A w ten czas papieza miano,
Innocencyjusz mu dziano;
To ten byl cesarz pirwy,
Archodonijusz nizli; 55
K(t)orej krolewnie Famijana dziano,
Co ja Aleksemu dano; A zenie dziano Aglijas,
Ta byla ubostwu w czas.
This I translated as follows:
At that time they had a pope
Whose name was Innocent.
The first emperor Honorius
Was older than Arcadius; 55
The princess who was given to Alexis
Was named Famiana
(His wife's name was Aglias,
She was eager to help the poor);
Professor Cooper comments: "Thus Honorius and Arcadius show up in the translation whereas Archodonius gets lost." But he fails to note that the very editors he cites suggest on p. 128 the following amended reading of lines 54-55: "Cesarz pirwy Honoryjusz - Starszy niz Archodonijusz," which is exactly how I translated lines 54-55. Cooper is not aware, either that the Old Polish "Archodonijusz" stands for "Arcadius." Thus, "Archodonius gets lost" because he never existed.
Finally, there is no justification for Cooper's assertion that the word Ruthenians (in Polish, Rusini), denoting the members of an ethnic group different from Russians (in Polish, Rosjanie), should be deleted and replaced by Russians. If this were accepted and applied consistently, one would end up with nonsensical statements, as in the phrase "the Chelm and Kiev churches in Ruthenia" (na Rusi) founded and endowed by Jagiello, as "the Chelm and Kiev churches in Russia," an obvious error.
Michael J. Mikos, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee
I strongly disagree with Professor Henry R. Cooper, Jr.'s review of Professor Michael Mikos' Medieval Literature of Poland (SR, XIV/1, January 1994). Mikos' book is an anthology of translations from Polish literature up to the year 1500. It contains forty-seven texts representing the whole spectrum of literary activities of the period. Included are exerpts from the Chronicles by Gallus, Kadlubek, Dlugosz and others, the masterpieces of religious poetry and prose such as "Bogurodzica," "Rozmowa Mistrza ze Smiercie." and fragments of "Kazania Swietokrzyskie;" secular works (e.g. "Satyra na leniwych chlopow." "O zachowaniu sie przy stole"), as well as other monuments of the Polish Latin literature, e.g., Celtis' epigrams, and selections from Jan Ostrorog's political writings.
Medieval Literature of Poland is the first book of its kind available to the English reader. Most of the texts found in it have been translated into English for the first time by Professor Mikos. A few others have already been present in the literature, but had never before been collected in one volume. It follows that the anthology can play an important role in the study of Slavic cultures, and I am sure it will serve well as a reference for scholars and a textbook for advanced students.
My opinion of Professor Mikos' work differs so radically from Professor Cooper's review that I feel obliged to explain why I do not find the reviewer's criticisms of the book as damaging as he presented them to be.
In his review, Professor Cooper first focused on the sources used in preparation of the Medieval Literature of Poland. He criticized the use of two books, Chrestomatia staropolska... and Toc jest dziwne a nowe... as a basis for as many as twenty-five translations. Presumably, what he would have preferred is for the text of each translation to have been taken out of a different source. But why? What would have been gained by using as many sources as possible? How would this have contributed to the quality and reliability of the anthology? Professor Cooper gave no answer to these questions.
Next, the reviewer attacked the use of Manfred Kridl's Anthology of Polish Literature as a source for the selections from Ostrorog. The pedagogical purpose of Kridl's book allegedly made it unreliable. Again, I cannot see the reasoning behind Professor Cooper's remarks. Manfred Kridl has an established position as a researcher and expert on Polish literature and there is no reason for his textbooks to be treated differently from his other works. Incidentally, Kridl is not Professor Mikos' only source on Ostrorog, Chrzanowski's History is referenced as well, but Professor Cooper has not mentioned it.
Another target of Professor Cooper's criticisms are the introductions and annotations accompanying the texts. The reviewer was right to point out the inaccuracy in translating "completa" as "the evening mass" and the spelling errors in the Notes to Kadlubek. In my opinion, however, the main thrust of his objections falls wide of the mark. For none of the long list of annotations that Professor Cooper felt should have been added to Medieval Literature of Poland is necessary for understanding the texts, and therefore, the absence of these annotations does not make the book flawed.
Unlike Professor Cooper, I do not think that anthologies should attempt to summarize the research done on the texts they contain. Such might be the purpose of a textbook on the history of literature, whereas an anthology only makes the texts accessible to the reader and enables him/her to follow their contents without confusion.
Professor Mikos' Notes are oriented towards this task and perform well. Consider, for example, the following fragment from the legend of St Alexis:
...The princess who was given to Alexis
Was named Famiana
(His wife's name was Aglias
She was eager to help the poor)....
Professor Mikos put a note here explaining that the text in parentheses is a mechanical repetition of an earlier part of the legend. The reviewer, however, disagreed and decided that this was completely unnecessary, writing: "why this latter bit of information is important is a mystery."
Perhaps I can resolve this little mystery for Professor Cooper. Taken at face value, the above text ascribes two wives to St Alexis: one named Famiana, and the other Aglias. By reminding the reader that Aglias appeared earlier in the text, Professor Mikos has clarified the situation: Aglias is Famiana's mother, and "His" in the parenthesized text applies to Alexis' father-in-law.
Moving to the next line of criticism, I will not argue with what Professor Cooper had to say about the poetic qualities of Professor Mikos' translations, as the assessment of those is largely a matter of personal taste. I would like only to mention that I compared two translations by Professor Mikos ("Bogurodzica" and "Rozmowa Mistrza ze Smiercia") with the translations of the same texts by Professor David Walsh (in Monumenta Polonica, Michigan Slavic Publications, 1989) and found them quite similar. For example, in Professor Walsh's "Mother of God," Mary is addressed as "you" and Jesus as "thou." which is the point in Professor Mikos' translation to which Professor Cooper objected the most strongly.
Finally, let us consider what Professor Cooper considered to be the most serious flaw in Medieval Literature of Poland which was to base the translation of the texts written originally in Latin not on the Latin editions but on the Polish translations. The reviewer has pointed out that this leads to the reader's working with the translation twice removed from the original and has called it "inexcusable."
Generally speaking, Professor Cooper's point is valid. Translating translations may lead to an avalanche of errors, especially if combined with interpretation. In some cases, however, it may be quite innocuous, for example if the languages of the first translation are semantically and syntactically similar, as it is the case with Polish and Latin. Therefore, I will look more closely at the particular case of the Medieval Literature of Poland, using what Professor Cooper calls a "minor but telling" example of the allegedly disastrous consequences of the double translations.
Consider the sentence from Kadlubek's Chronicles:
...Aderat autem quidem vernaculus, atramentarium gestans cum calamo, ac fumamentem demulgens faculam...
A nineteenth century translation into Polish reads:
...Byl pewien sluga, majacy kalamarz z piorem i ucierajacy palac a sie szczype...
This translation preserves the Latin syntax (the use of participles), but translates "fumamentem" as "burning" rather than "smoking" and "gestans" as "having" instead of "carrying". In a more recent translation we have:
...Byl pewien sluga, ktory nosil kalamarz z piorem i oczyszczal kopcace luczywo...
This is a word-for-word translation of the Latin sentence (not counting the omitted "autem"), with the participles replaced by the active voice. Additionally, the translator interpreted "demulgens," literally "rubbing" or "stroking," as "cleaning."
To begin with, this sentence is completely clear in Polish, at least to a native speaker. Professor Cooper however found it confusing, apparently because of the reference to "cleaning." He turned to the Latin text to fully understand the sentence and after much labor, discovered that "demulceo" means "to rub" or "to stroke." This finding, claimed Professor Cooper, invalidated the Polish translation, because it indicates that Kadlubek rubbed his torch to keep it lighted, not just to clean it, and "cleaning" is a fantasy of the Polish translators. Furthermore, since Professor Mikos used this translation as a source for his translation into English:
...There was a servant who carried an ink-bottle with a quill and cleaned resinous chips blackened with coal....
it allegedly proves the impossibility of getting a good English translation based on the Polish text of the Chronicles. I really cannot see Professor Cooper's point here. The issue he raised: "why did Kadlubek rub his torch?" has nothing to do with Polish, Latin, or English, it is technical and not linguistic. Lacking a detailed explanation in Kadlubek, it must be settled by an informed, reasonable guess and this is what the Polish translators have done. Disagreeing, Professor Cooper suggested his own version which is, however, as much of a guess as what he criticized. If the Polish translators are fantasizing at this point, so is the reviewer.
Now, if Professor Mikos' translation of the sentence in question can confuse the reader, this is not, as Professor Cooper contended, because of the problems occurring in translation from Latin into Polish, but in translation from either of them into English. Notably, both Latin and Polish do not have articles and the speakers of those languages are accustomed to filling in the resulting lacunae based on the context. The speakers of English, however, are accustomed to having the articles in place, and lack thereof causes confusion.
This is what happens in this case. In both Latin and Polish, the servant from our sentence cleaned (rubbed) "torch," with no article. This can be understood as "a torch" or "his torch," but is not confusing, just ambiguous. Professor Mikos' translation omitted the article and also introduced the plural "resinous chips" which added to the indefiniteness of the situation: unlike the Polish or the Latin reader, the English reader might think that the servant had to clean all the chips in town.
In conclusion, while I must agree with some of Professor Cooper's criticisms of Medieval Literature of Poland, I regard most of them as exaggerated or even completely unfounded. Clearly, there is not enough evidence in Professor Cooper's review to support his strongly negative overall judgement of the book, and for me personally, even to change the very favorable opinion of it.
Martin Lawera, Rice University
Dead Carp Controversy
I find your Dead Carp Award in extremely poor taste. If you disagree with someone, insulting their intelligence will not convince them of the correctness of your position. Vitriol has never won a debate.
Lt. Gen. Leo J. Dulacki, USMC (ret), Carlsbad, California
I was pleased to see that the most recent Dead Carp was awarded to an American politician who wears "Catholic" on his sleeve but shows no solidarity whatsoever with those peoples and nations that have likewise been identified with Catholicism. Poland fought Nazi Germany as a valuable ally of the West, spending its own manpower and firepower in defense of Great Britain, on the liberation of Italy and on many other battlefields. Poland subsequently was betrayed by the West, primarily by President Roosevelt, and consigned to the Soviet sphere of influence.
The most recent developments in the east European political arena are too reminiscent of the events which took place after World War 2. Then, Poland hoped for support from her allies which never came. Now, after the tremendous sacrifices which the organization and maintenance of the Solidarity movement entailed, a similar situation seems to arise.
Maybe it is naive of me to expect that first world countries would play a protective role in stabilizing the east European nations. But this is what they implied when Poland freed herself of Soviet domination at the price of much pain and suffering. I remember very well the enthusiasm which Solidarity caused in the West. But the tide of goodwill gestures has ebbed and the east Europeans found themselves stuck again in the political mud.
In times like these it is of great importance that Polish Americans voice their disapproval of the American policies which victimize Poland and other east European nations. It is time to stop being timid, and tell those unscrupulous politicians what we think.
Eva Wlodarczyk, M.A., Houston, Texas
I usually begin reading The Sarmatian Review from the Dead Carp Award. What a wonderful distraction from the serious and scholarly tone of the rest of your journal. A little humor is a good thing.
Iwo Cyprian Pogonowski, Blacksburg, Virginia
Since its introduction, comments about the Dead Carp Award have run about 15:1 in favor. Ed.