Sunday, August 1, 2010

New Tadeusz Borowski Collection

This October, Yale University Press will release a new collection of stories by Tadeusz Borowski (1922-1951). Here in Our Auschwitz and Other Stories, translated by Madeline Levine, offers “the first authoritative translation of Borowski’s prose fiction, including numerous stories that have never appeared in English before.”

Arrested and taken to Auschwitz in 1943, Borowski is one of the most important writers of the Holocaust. His book of stories, This Way For the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen, is essential reading about what happened in Auschwitz.

The following poem by Borowski is taken from a site dedicated to his poetry. To read other poems click here.


I did not join the Home Army
I did not work for the Resistance.
I spent my nights studying
at the underground university.

My friends looked death in the face,
many were killed, as in any battle,
and I wrote about Liebert,
Staff, epithets and rhythm.

I did not smuggle goods to Warsaw,
I never went to trendy bars.
I wrote poems. Not for fame,
but because I had to. Trifles. Youth.

I was not a gold broker,
I didn't know the rates of exchange.
I had a girl. Long nights, my love ...
Where is she? Torture ...

That was my life ... poems, love,
without character, empty, pale.
Perhaps it would not have been wasted
if I'd killed just one single German.


By the way, there is a competition to design a cover for This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentleman. To read about it, click here.


  1. I do not read or speak Polish, but have long admired Madeline Levine's translation of Ida Fink. I am very interested to read Levine's translation! I did, however, want to offer a clarification. The three-person collective first person authorship of much of what American audiences know of Borowski's work has actually been translated, and is the subject of scholarly study, by a Polish-American author, Alicia Nitecki. Nitecki translated We Were in Auschwitz (with a small press in year 2000), and explains the origins of many of Borowski's fictional works -- including Day At Harmenz, This Way to the Gas, and so on. Nitecki also translated Drewnowski's biographical study of Borowski's life: to English, Postal Indiscretions. Would be really great to see how Levine translates/represents by way of her new book!
    Borowski's life is a dramatization of a rejection of the cherished American ideal of redemptive suffering. Profoundly instructive to watch/read/learn of the reception to this new translation. I urge all to read Nitecki's absolutely critical translation/analysis/etc. as powerful preparation....esp. while waiting for this book's release! Thanks, Jeanie Tietjen

  2. Jeanie, thanks for the information. You make me even more excited about reading the new translation.

    By the way, have you seen this recent blog about Alicia Nitecki's translation of Stara Gwardia (the old guard)--