Warsaw: Niezależna Oficyna Wydawnicza, 1979. Octavo (20.2 × 14.5 cm). Original decorative side-stapled card wrappers; 116 pp. Light soil to wrappers; spine extremities chipped; still about very good.
First edition of this “roman-a-clef of the 1979 political-intellectual scene in Poland” in which the narrator is absurdly invited by fellow dissident writers to self-immolate in front the Palace of Culture in Warsaw in an act of protest. Written by Tadeusz Konwicki (1926–2015) “this decidedly postmodern text is […] not only about but for intellectuals.” The novel is critical of both the Communist Polish government and the opposition, presented as “dissidents with a lifetime appointment”. (See Erika Gottlieb, Dystopian Fiction East and West: Universe of Terror and Trial, pp. 235–236). The text was published by NOWa, one of the largest underground independent publishers that were not run or regulated by the state and were not subject to state censorship. By the late 1970s, NOWa employed close to 200 workers and was able to compete with state publishers in quality and to attract famous contemporary Polish authors like Konwicki. This gave contemporary writers an alternative to the state publishers, which helped them curb self-censorship and write more honestly and freely. Publisher’s catalog to rear wrapper advertises works by Gombrowicz, Milosz, Brodsky and Konwicki among others. As of May 2020, KVK and OCLC show copies at Hamburg, Göttingen, Bremen.
Book ID: 50781