Stefan Chwin

Stefan Chwin

Polish novelist, literally critic, essayist, literature historian, graphic designer, postdoctoral graduate, associate professor of Languages at Danzig University, he also lectures at Danzig University. He publishes his articles in foreign magazines: German, Swedish, English language as well as the Polish press. As a researcher he is engaged in Romanticism and Romantic inspirations in modern literature (e.g. of Witold Gombrowicz). In his novels he often alludes to the ideas of Friedrich Nietzsche. His most famous novel Death in Danzig (Polish: Hanemann), 1995, has been translated, amongst others, into German and English and awarded the “Polityka” Weekly Passport. The book tells the tale of the Free City of Danzig after it was left by its German population at the end of the war and inhabited by settlers from the east. He is a member of the Polish Writers’ Association. In the period from 1996 to 2003 he was a juror of the Nike Prize in Literature. He is also the winner of the Andreas Gryphius prize – one of the most prestigious German literary awards. Chwin also writes fantasy adventure for young readers, which he illustrates himself. Using the pseudonym “Max Lars” he has published the novel Ludzie-skorpiony (The Scorpion People) and Człowiek-Litera (The Letter Man). Chwin’s first novel Krótka historia pewnego żartu (The Short History of a Certain Joke) from 1991 was an attempt to return to his childhood, marked with Stalinist times and memories of Hitler, at home and school. It is an attempt to recreate place and events in Danzig, which years later change into a spiritual genealogy, a private literary myth. In Death in Danzig, Chwin revisits the fate of the Free City of Danzig in the thirties, during the war and after, when the city came under Polish administration. Chwin describes with a masterly touch the world of things - lost in fires, lawlessly getting into people’s hands, decaying in strange surroundings – another symbol of emptiness and abandon, alienation and the relentless passage of time. Into his story Chwin weaves the historically famous suicides of Kleist and his lover Henriette Vogel and Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz and his life partner. These legendary deaths are like a riddle, a topic for meditation. “Maybe the real trick is knowing when to die?” - Hanemann asks himself years later. The answer is given to Hanemann in the book by a young woman whose life will cross paths with his. Other books by the author are Esther (1999), Złoty pelikan (The Golden Pelican, 2003), Kartki z dziennika (Pages from a Journal, 2004), Żona prezydenta (The President’s Wife, 2005), Dolina Radości (Valley of Joy, 2006), Dziennik dla dorosłych (A Journal for Adults, 2008) as well as critical sketches Bez autorytetu (Without Authority), Literatura i zdrada (Literature and Betrayal, 1993), Romantyczna przestrzeń wyobraźni (The Romantic Expanse of the Imagination, 1998).

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