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playwright Henryk Bardijewski

Henryk Bardijewski is a playwright and prose author of the older generation. Like most Polish authors of fiction, he writes about the problems of modern life, but in his own special way. He avoids literal, realistic descriptions and a build-up of details, but is happy to use allegory, satire, or irony tempered with warm humor. His latest set of short stories, “Wild Angels and Other Stories”, includes almost forty stories of minimal length that could be defined as parables. Bardijewski relies on two tones of voice, a humorous one and a serious one. Some of the stories feature a satirical take on reality, as in “The Foreigner”, about a Pole who pretends to be foreign in order to gain his compatriots’ respect, or “Little and Large”, which describes the mixed fortunes of a political party that only has three members, or “The Newspaper”, in which the three main characters found a newspaper, publish made-up news in it and to their amazement achieve staggering success. Some of the other stories are more like philosophical parables, in which Bardijewski raises some traditional humanist themes, such as a man’s problems with building a lasting identity (“Curriculum Vitae”), the transience of life (“Past Perfect Tense”), or old age and death (“The Welfare Salon”). He describes the world from a distance, but there is no sense of malice towards reality in his writing, no passionate desire to expose the evils that we encounter on a daily basis, no violent emotions. Instead there is calm reflection on the things that happen to people – some funny, some tragic – that makes the reader stop and think.
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