8 July 2011 We already know the guests for the 3rd Conrad Festival
Alberto Manguel – eminent Argentinean writer, editor and translator, once reader for Jorge Luis Borges, author of A History of Reading and an impressive work on Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, will be a guest of the 2nd day of the 3rd Conrad Festival (2nd – 6th of November). Roberto Calasso – Italian essayist, writer and head of the renowned Adelphi publishing house, who has been awaited for two years – will be a guest of the 4th day of the Festival, along with Eva Hoffman, author of Illumination.
NOTE: During the Festival we will also meet a Swedish journalist of Polish descent.
Alberto Manguel (1948) – Canadian-Argentinian writer, essayist, editor and translator, author of numerous anthologies. As a 16 year-old, he earned extra money after school in the famous library Pygmalion in Buenos Aires, where he met Borges. He became one of Borges' personal readers (the author of Dr. Brodie's Report suffered from blindness, which made him incapable of reading). Manguel, as an ambassador's son, moved constantly from one place to another. He mastered his native tongue only at the age of 7 (until then having communicated in English and German). After he left Buenos Aires, he lived in France, England, Tahiti and Canada. In 2000, he bought a small abbey on the Loire River, where he resolved to live. In Poland and throughout the world, he is mostly known as the author of the bestselling A History of Reading, wherein he states: “Populist regimes seek to deprive us of memory, thus they see books as unnecessary luxuries. Totalitarian regimes do not want us to think, thus they prohibit, threaten and censor. Both regimes want us to be stupid and to submissively agree to our degradation. That is why they encourage us to consume rubbish cultural products. Under such circumstances, reading becomes a subversive activity.” Manguel makes us aware that everybody changes under the influence of reading and each book read impacts human life. He also shows this in his well-known publication on the most significant pieces of world literature – Homer's the Iliad and the Odyssey: A Biography (Polish translation by Hanna Jankowska published in 2010). Manguel will be a guest of the 2nd and 3rd day of the Festival.
Roberto Calasso (1941) – Italian writer, essayist and a head of the Adelphi publishing house. He read English Literature at the Rome's La Sapienza University. In 1962, he began working for Adelphi Edizioni. He belongs to an elite of European intellectuals and is compared to Erich Auerbach and Ernst Robert Curtius. He is the author of: L’impuro folie (1974), La rovina di Kasch (1983). Polish readership will remember him mostly as the author of the outstanding book on Greek myths Le nozze di Cadmo e Armonia (1988) (The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony) (Stanisław Kasprzysiak's translation into Polish published in 1995). In another book titled Ka: Stories of the Mind and Gods of India, the titular Ka is one of Prajapati's names, the master of all creation, literally meaning who? (Polish translation by Ireneusz Kania published in 2008). Another book published the same year, Literature and Gods, is the outcome of the prestigious Weidenfeld Lectures Calasso delivered at Oxford in 2000. These are extraordinary tales about traces left by petulant gods in works by such authors as Hölderlin, Nietzsche, Lautreamont, Baudelaire and Mallarmé. Calasso puts forth a concept of absolute literature, which not only pursues aesthetic objectives, but also has a specific epistemological value. Calasso argues that only through such literature a certain kind of knowledge may be exposed. Dariusz Czaja wrote that, “in his activity, Calasso indefatigably creates compelling meditations about the fascinating fabric of literature; meditations varying in rhythm, colour, register and density. These are meditations on how fleshes of the invisible made impression on great works of the Western world.” The Italian writer will be a guest of the 3rd day of the Conrad Festival.
Eva Hoffman (1945) – Polish-American writer and historian of Jewish descent. She was born in Krakow as Ewa Wydra to a family of Polish Jews, Holocaust survivors, and it was there that she completed her primary education. She wanted to become a pianist, but in 1959, on board the Batory, Hoffmann emigrated with her parents to Canada and then to the United States. She studied at Houston's Rice University, Yale School of Music and the Harvard University. Her academic achievements were later reflected in the work as an editor and literary critic. For almost 11 years since 1979, she has worked in the editorial section of the New York Times, where she polished her writing technique. In 1989, she published an internationally acclaimed book, Lost in Translation. A Life in a New Language. Admiration for the author's achievements has even been expressed by Czesław Miłosz. The book is structured in a fashion similar to translation process, a principal category of this writing and a leitmotif of Hoffmann's autobiographical narratives. She is also the author of Shtetl: The Life and Death of a Small Town and the World of Polish Jews, a book presenting the fates of two communities: Polish and Jewish (2001, translated into Polish by Michał Roniker), in which the author does not shy away from touching upon controversial and painful topics. Her latest novel, Illumination (2008, in the U.S. published as Appasionata) is a touching story of a pianist whose whole life is spent suspended in the in-between space, at the interstices of cultures, languages and communities – thus provoking the need to construct a lost identity. Eva Hoffmann now lives in London. She will be a guest of the 4th day of the Festival.
Maciej Zaremba – a Swedish journalist of Polish descent, a columnist and translator (Zbigniew Herbert's poetry). Following his high-school examinations, Zaremba emigrated to Sweden along with his mother, grandmother and brothers. He worked as a delivery person, an orderly in a hospital, as operator of a crane at a construction site - which was a way he learned life and language. He studied History of Film and History of Ideas. Zaremba began working as a journalist in 1981 by writing reports from Poland on the emerging Solidarity movement. Presently, he works for the Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter, covering culture and politics. One of his most significant texts was the one published after John Paul II's death. His publications are, at the same time, extremely insightful essays on Swedes' mentality. For his publications, Zaremba gained a number of awards, including the Award of the Lawyers Chamber of Sweden and numerous Awards of the Swedish Academy (the same that grants Literary Noble Prize). Maciej Zaremba's wife, Agneta Pleijel, is a Swedish writer, also known in Poland.
Further information on guests of this year's 3rd edition of the Festival can be found in second 2011 issue of Magazyn Konradowski, available as a supplement to the latest Tygodnik Powszechny. The supplement includes articles by Dariusz Czaja – on the Italian essayist Roberto Calasso; Grzegorz Jankowicz – on Albert Manguel, an Argentinean writer living in Canada; Tomasz Bilczeski – on Eva Hoffmann's struggle with Polish-Jewish remembrance; Michał Olszewski – on eugenics described by Maciej Zaremba. We encourage you to read the supplement to Tygodnik Powszechny to well prepare for the arrival of this year's Festival guests.