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Stefania Zahorska

Pic. National Digital Archives

Stefania Zahorska

Roots

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Translated by Hanna Gamza
They met every morning in the Planty park, on the Main Market Square between St Mary's Church and St Barbara's Church, or in Podzamcze street, by the slopes of the Wawel mound. They chose their meeting point the evening before, saying a long goodbye at the gate of Anna's house, thoroughly adjusting the character of streets and buildings to the mood and importance of issues they wanted to discuss. Yet they were often wrong. After some time they stopped meeting near to Wawel, because it often led to fierce and complicated disputes, which came to an end only in the afternoon. They realized that Abramowski, read by Jan at the time, could not be reconciled with Sorel's views studied by Anna. Spencer was not to their tastes at all. Having met at St Mary's Church, they had an argument on Brzozowski and parted already on Grodzka street, feeling reluctant and hostile. After that, they usually chose Planty, somewhere around the statue of Grażyna, or some quiet and peaceable streets, such as Poselska, Kanonicza or Senacka. There was, however, St Michael's jail nearby, but neither Jan nor Anna took any notice of it. In these streets, there were lovely and clumsy renaissance portals, smiling at them friendly with garlands of stone flowers and fruits or a satyr's mask. They usually forgot about books and authors then. In the yards of the 16th-century houses people beat carpets, put useless baskets out on loggia-style porches, and aired their winter clothes that were about to be stored in chests, in naphthalene. In a lancet Gothic door frame there was an old woman staring suspiciously at old vagrants... Jan and Anna smiled at her and kissed in front of her puzzled eyes. It was how the continuity of life was secured. Jan and Anna were becoming indispensable in life's run. They didn't speak a lot back then. Sometimes they exchanged looks or grasped their hands, which were seeking each other in that very second. It meant that there is only one life, indivisible and joyful. It was a great pleasure to take part in a cause begun by a Polish stonemason four hundred years ago.
Translated by Hanna Gamza
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Stefania Zahorska

Stefania Zahorska (1889–1961) – a writer, publicist and art critic. She was born to an assimilated Jewish family in Krakow as Stefania Ernestyna Leser on the 25th of April 1889. She studied history of art at the Jagiellonian University; in 1919, after the defence of her doctoral dissertation, she moved to Warsaw. She lectured at the Free Polish University and published articles in Wiadomości Literackie, Przegląd Warszawski and Miesięcznik Literacki. In 1937 she debuted with the novel Korzenie [Roots], in which she included many autobiographical motifs from her early days in Krakow. After the outbreak of World War II she moved to France and then to London in 1940, where she lived till her death. During the emigration period, she established the Polish Writers’ Association and published further novels: Stacja Abbesses [Abbesses Station] (1952), Ofiara [Sacrifice] (1955) and Ziemia pojona gniewem [Soil Watered with Rage] (1961). She died in London on the 6th of April 1961 and was buried at the Hampstead Cemetery.

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