What You Can Do While Your Country Is Thawing

January 30, 2013 § Leave a comment

So this and the following week are finals weeks on our university. One of not so many privileges of fifth year students is that there are nearly no exams this year, so I am staying home, looking after parents-in-law-in-spe’s dog, and I decided to do something monumental in this extra spare time.

The first thing is working on my master’s thesis.

Another one is Ice.

This enormous retro science-fiction novel by Jacek Dukaj hasn’t been published in English yet, but I quite understand it. There are two reasons for that.

The first one is that it’s a novel about a Pole traveling East through steps of Russia to find and talk to his father, who is said to talk to the Frosts. Frosts are weather anomalies related to Ice mentioned in the title. They had appeared over Russia in 19th century and froze the History – Partitions of Poland had not ended, there was no Revolution. Ice froze not only animals, buildings or people in particular, but it froze the state of the world. The main point of reference is Poland and its complicated history, which changed considerably on the verge of 20th century, but not in the novel. It’s serves also as a metaphor of never-changing Russia frozen under Syberian snows.

Another reason is in the language. Dukaj got so immersed in adopting the style of 19th century novel, that he stretched Polish to the extent nearly causing a deadly break. I can’t imagine it translated to English. So much would be lost that it would question the point of translation.

Curious thing is that outside the window it’s around three degrees now, but only two days ago it was minus fifteen. If cold is what stops the history from turning, what’s going to happen now?

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