for Warsaw

Diary 1954

Leopold Tyrmand
The year 1954: Stalin was dead but Stalinism not yet. Leopold Tyrmand, a dandy, lived in a Warsaw which was slowly beginning to breathe. Half document, half elaborate, stylized literary diary, this book is a window through which we gaze at a fascinating spectacle: how human life can be reborn after catastrophes.

Written in 1954 and only fully published in 1999 Tyrmand’s diary is not only an introduction to Warsaw, the way my generation imagines it, based on the photos of Tadeusz Rolke, Wajda’s and Polanski’s movies and accompanied by Komeda’s jazz – it’s a diary of a sensitive intellectual. Notes on life, relationships, artists’ struggles – and human ones too. This is what I think of Warsaw and how I experience it; what I think of Polish intellectual history and what I think of choices we’re facing every day – something that has not changed in almost 70 years – trying to figure out what matters in life, while strolling the streets of a city that once was, and isn’t anymore.

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