Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz

Photo by Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz

Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz

The Shoemakers

Read by Marta Meissner, Piotr Czarnota and Wojciech Barczyński, recorded by Radiofonia Association
English translation: Hanna Gamza

Young Yokel
Despite all that, assured of our great mission, after the fall of the gentry and our monstrous and cancerous aristocracy hatched from it – that supposedly they aristocratically wore checked garments and an English style sported…


How obsolete are these jests à la Mr Boy and Mr Słonimski! They reek, gentlemen, like fish in a third-class buffet in Kocmyrzów village! To the point, you sluggish yokels, haughty and pugnacious!

Old Yokel

Pray, my fair lady, that you shall not sorrowfully regret these words uttered with so much confidence and haste!



Shut up, you boor, or I will puke out of disgust! Mr Lechoń would be discontented hearing me talking like this, because he only knows duchesses from five-o-clock parties in the Foreign Office! Well, I am and will remain so, for moon jelly’s sake!


Enough with these quarrels! Thanks to you, yokels in pseudo-gentry ambitions depraved, I regained my lost position and I am going to make an almost truly royal pact with you. Your serfdom liberties will not be denied you. You must create a voluntary collectfarm, with the last syllable stressed of course…


I’m goin’ to make it short: we came here with a straw man à la Wyspiański, whose idea was used even by the fascists as a metaphysical-national basis of their joyful knowledge about utilizing life and utilizing the state for the sake of self-defence of the international concentration of financial capital and also…


Shut your mouth, boor, or else I’ll smack your face!


You didn’t let me finish, mister, and it ended in bloody nonsense à la Witkacy. I know your criticism… Whatever! We better sing – they’ll get our point through the music – yup!:

With the straw man in our hand
with hearts poor and pure we stand!

English translation: Hanna Gamza

Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz

(1885–1939) – “Witkacy”, writer, painter, photographer, and philosopher. Son of Stanisław Witkiewicz, a recognised art critic and the creator of the Zakopane style. Spent most of his life in Zakopane, where, among other activities he ran his famous one-man portrait painting studio. Witkacy annotated his paintings with mysterious ciphers which denoted the type of the substance that accompanied the creative process (e.g. FZZ stood for “fajka z zaciąganiem” i.e. “a pipe with inhaling”). Author of numerous dramas in which he developed the avant-garde concept of pure form. His most famous theatrical pieces include Matka (Mother) and Szewcy (The Shoemakers). A great individualist, he was horrified by the idea of collective, which is why, on 18th September 1939 he committed a suicide having learnt that the Soviet army invaded Poland. However, some believe that it was just another of his many mystifications. (ms)

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