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22 August
2013

Sławomir Mrożek has died

Wydawnictwo Literackie and the Noir Sur Blanc publishing house are very sorry to inform that early in the morning of the 15th of August, Sławomir Mrożek died in Nice at the age of 83. He was a writer of world renown, an intellectual, an authority, and an important figure to many generations of Poles.

Sławomir Mrożek left a huge legacy that entered the canon of not only Polish, but also world literature for good. He wrote short stories and brilliant plays that conquered stages in the furthest corners of the globe. Readers will also remember him as the author of the extremely frank Diary, the great letters he wrote to his friends – the most important figures of European culture, and the author of witty drawings that have already become a classic of Polish humour.

“Sławomir Mrożek was a great author, but also a very warm person. All of Wydawnictwo Literackie was very lucky to have been able to commune with such a great personality and publish his brilliant works. He was our friend,” says Anna Zaremba Michalska, head of Wydawnictwo Literackie.

Sławomir Mrożek was born on the 29th of June 1930 in Borzęcin near Krakow. After the war, in the 1950s, he began studies in Krakow in various fields of study (Architecture, the Academy of Fine Arts, Oriental Studies), however, he did not graduate from any. At the same time, he began working at Dziennik Polski, his satirical texts also appeared in Szpilki, Po prostu, Życie literackie, and Nowa Kultura. In 1953, Wydawnictwo Literackie published the first collections of these texts: Opowiadania z Trzmielowej Góry and Półpancerze praktyczne. In 1958, the Dramatyczny Theatre in Warsaw staged Mrożek’s first play entitled Policja (The Police). In 1953, he went to Italy with his wife Maria Obremba, where they took the decision to emigrate. Still, his subsequent plays were published in Poland, including Czarowna noc (The Magical Night) and Śmierć porucznika (The Death of the Lieutenant). In 1964, Tango was published – it consolidated the writer’s position and brought him worldwide renown.

In 1968, he moved to Paris. He published a letter of protest against the participation of the Polish army in the invasion of Czechoslovakia in Le Monde and the Paris Kultura. This displeased the Polish authorities and he was called to return to the country immediately. In response, Mrożek asked for asylum in France. In Poland, censorship banned the publication of his works and the staging of his plays. In 1969, his wife died of cancer in West Berlin.

The ban on the publication of Mrożek’s works in Poland slowly abated in the late 1970s – Mrożek did not visit Poland until 1978. He visited the country again in 1981, however, after the 13th of December, he published a Letter to Foreigners in Le Monde and the International Herald Tribune and refused to publish his works in Poland and show his plays on TV.

In 1987, he married Susana Osorio Rosas, a theatre director from Mexico. He rejected the Award of the Literary Foundation in Poland, but he came to the country, where he met with his readers for the first time. In 1989, he moved to Mexico with his wife.

In the years 1996-2008, Sławomir Mrożek lived in Krakow with his wife, and in June 2008, they moved to Nice, France.

In 2010 in Krakow, at the initiative of Wydawnictwo Literackie, the “Mrożek for the 21st Century” festival was held, organised on the occasion of the author’s 80th birthday. It was then that the 1st volume of his Diary came out. The publication of Mrożek’s diaries was crowned by volume 3, published in March 2013. Readers and critics agree that Mrożek’s Diary is one of the most important achievements of Polish diary writing to date. Volume 4 may be published in the future, including the 1990s.

The last time Sławomir Mrożek visited Poland was in June 2013: he took part in the premiere of his latest play Karnawał, czyli pierwsza żona Adama (Carnival or Adam’s First Wife) at the Polski Theatre in Warsaw. He was also supposed to be the greatest star of the Big Book Festival and meet with the readers, but this was impossible due to health reasons.

Wydawnictwo Literackie is preparing the publication of the correspondence of Sławomir Mrożek and Swedish intellectual Gunnar Brandell. In the autumn, Noir Sur Blanc will also publish a volume with Mrożek’s drawings. In October, the Krakow premiere of Karnawał, czyli pierwsza żona Adama will take place at the Słowacki Theatre.

More information about Sławomir Mrożek’s works can be found at www.slawomirmrozek.eu.

Source: Wydawnictwo Literackie

Photo by the Book Institute