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Winner Of The Nobel Prize In LiteratureSet In The Mythical Polish Village Of Primeval, A Microcosm Of The World Populated By Eccentric, Archetypal Characters And Guarded By Four Archangels, The Novel Chronicles The Lives Of The Inhabitants Over The Course Of The Feral Th Century In Prose That Is Forceful, Direct, And The Stylistic Cousin Of The Magic Realism In Gabriel Garc A M Rquez S One Hundred Years Of Solitude Told In Short Bursts Of Time, The Narrative Takes The Form Of A Stylized Fable, An Epic Allegory About The Inexorable Grind Of Time And The Clash Between Modernity The Masculine And Nature The Feminine In Which Poland S Tortured Political History From To The Contemporary Era And The Episodic Brutality Visited On Ordinary Village Life Is Played Out A Novel Of Universal Dimension That Does Not Dwell On The Parochial, Primeval And Other Times Was Awarded The Koscielski Foundation Prize In , Which Established Tokarczuk As One Of The Leading Voices In Polish Letters, And It Has Been Translated Into Many Languages The World OverTokarczuk Has Said Of The Novel I Always Wanted To Write A Book Such As This One That Creates And Describes A World It Is The Story Of A World That, Like All Things Living, Is Born, Develops, And Then Dies Kitchens, Bedrooms, Childhood Memories, Dreams And Insomnia, Reminiscences, And Amnesia These Are Part Of The Existential And Acoustic Spaces From Which The Voices Of Tokarczuk S Tale Come, Her Boxes In Boxes

10 thoughts on “Prawiek i inne czasy

  1. says:

    Imagine a district shaped like a square, its four borders corresponding to the four cardinal points, and with straight roads and rivers marking those boundaries Imagine that this square district is made up of sections, each section connected to the others, not only those it borders but sections further away too as if long trailing threads of different colors linked the various sections together as in embroidery or a patchwork quilt This book is such a patchwork quilt It tells of a four sided district called Primeval in a series of seemingly unrelated stories But the stories are connected through the intertwining threads of the characters, one of whom is obsessed by the number four One of the main threads is the miller, Micha , who, at the beginning of the book, returns to Primeval from WWI, carrying a pot bellied Russian coffee grinder in his knapsack.Another of the threads is his granddaughter Adelka who leaves Primeval in the 1970s carrying the same coffee grinder in her luggage I liked the circularity of the story of the round coffee grinder within the square frame of the larger story.The history of the miller s family connects the reader to the other characters who live in Primeval, especially to the people who live in the forest which is both the centre of the district and the heart of the story The forest represents everything that the square district is not The forest is shapeless, its borders are difficult to pin down, and it seems completely removed from the twentieth century and from its history Three of the book s characters live in the forest and they are weird and wonderful creations One is a werewolf character who seems to have crossed over from another Tokarczuk book He avoids all contact with regular people The other two, a mother and daughter who resemble Demeter and Persephone, interact with the other characters, influencing many of their lives The daughter eventually leaves Primeval When she does, the mother, whose name is Cornspike, returns to the heart of the forest and her destiny is not mentioned again I found I wanted to give her a destiny so I imagined that she had eventually merged so well with the Primeval forest that she became entirely covered in moss and lived on there forever That s why I was so struck by something I came across while out walking the other day It was sitting on a new and very straight path that has recently been laid alongside a forest area near where I live, and it immediately reminded me of this book I imagined it had been left behind by Cornspike view spoiler hide spoiler

  2. says:

    God sees Time escapes Death Pursues Eternity waits.Life is so dark and scary yet so lively It regenerates itself Life awaits death right from the moment of birth and stares at it with horror ridden eyes, however those who understand life would do otherwise The universe follows the same course It takes birth, develops, sometimes into other universes, and then dies out The process had been reconstructing and renovating itself since time immemorial and will continue to do, perhaps till eternity which is indefinite and that s why divine As we say change is the only constant in life so it keeps on moving and transforming, from inorganic to organic and then to complex forms, though eventually it stumbles upon where it started from, only to roll the wheel of time again isn t time itself an illusion Isn t the entire universe or perhaps multiverse a mirage, the whole perpetuity a farce, aren t we lurching around some elliptical bole which, though, has numerous episodes of alteration but eventual fate remains same Imagining is essentially creative it is a bridge reconciling matter and spirit Especially when it is done intensely and often Then the image turns into drop of matter, and joins the currents of life Sometimes along the way something in its gets distorted and changes Therefore, if they are strong enough, all human desires come true but not always entirely as expected The game of life is a sort of journey, through ever transforming and regenerating worlds, on which now and then choices keep appearing The choices make themselves, sometimes the player is under the impressions that he is making them consciously This may frighten him, because then he will feel responsible for where he ends up and what he encounters And that s where God steps in, and the player who believes in God will take it as divine judgement of God the omnipotent, omnipresent and infinite But he who doesn t believe in God, he will take it as a coincidence Sometimes the player will take it as his her free choice but he is sure to say this quietly and without conviction People are prisoners of time, they need meaning to remain sane while animals emotions are not clouded by thoughts, they dream incessantly and for nothing, for them, waking from the dream is death It was an underground rustling that sounded like a dull sigh, and then she could hear the gentle crackle of clumps of earth as the thread of the mycelium pushed its way between them Primeval is the microcosm of universe created and developed through various times which describe life from bygone to contemporary era amidst the episodic burst of war, brutality, non being and death The God of such universe must be quite cruel and indifferent to his creations, for he keeps man involved in mundane activities and doesn t let him realize his true existence, the man gets stuck in non being and his spirit looms over graveyard to repent upon his unfulfilled existence We see vagaries of women as enforced upon them by the cruel masculine universe wherein women are reduced to the portals for multiplication of life as their entire being took birth just to reproduce The man touched his ignominy further when women are transformed into objects of desires which gratify lechery of man, no matter if they wish to do or not, for their wish doesn t matter any Though a woman is as strong as a rock since she takes the entire universe into herself, every pain in the universe, and every hope she knows all the secrets of life yet she is condensed to non being by God, perhaps because God is not a woman And there may be some worlds wherein there won t be any divisions between man and woman, both would be alike, but these worlds may be in other times than of ours or yet to exist or perhaps ceased to exist long before.Primeval acts as some wormhole or portal of time space continuum which may contain blackholes and matter in some other forms which are alien to out world, and the portal opens unto various new worlds, each may be having different possibilities, but why do we need other worlds when all are same All worlds are governed by greed, lust, conceit and power, our entire history is beaming with such grand but ignoble acts built upon these qualities of humanity We have condemned the world to death, even the God has left our world long ago or if he is still here than he must be evil since otherwise things would not have turned out the way they have people and animals were killed in wars and God allowed pain and suffering The world of Primeval is just like ours ruthless, cruel and brazen but true, true in every sense whether it may be physical or metaphysical Are the dandelions and eiderdowns and jam containers of Primeval genuine or emblematic Is Katyn a damned spot or only a backwoods We live amazing, wrongly, as indicated by accounts of our and others creation, yet it very well may be pounding, irritating to secure to a dream of a world unchanged by legend or religion, one where anxiety and death rule all over the place The prose of the book is straightforward and simple but piercing, it consists of short vignettes which are called as times that pan human actions and reactions, showing the inner workings of a community, the interactions between people, causes and effects, and beliefs and desires The prose is being with written such careful precision, filled with beautiful allusions to various elements of humanity, it comes across as a long poetry It is this human desire to allude to some references that Tokarczuk hones in on in Primeval and Other Times, the story of three generations of a small Polish village called Primeval, from 1914 to the beginnings of Solidarity in 1980 Centered around the fate of the Niebieski family Micha , Genowefa, Misia Boska, and Izydor , whose struggles and loves during a century of war and occupation determine the book s dramatic arc We see the undertones of sarcasm and black humor throughout the book the episodes about destruction of forests and the planet itself is quite penetrative The narrative coheres in part due to the rhythmic quality of its short chapters, but there is also a vaguely allegorical quality at work What is war for Who runs it Why people go to certain death and kill others There have been some discussions in recent times that warfare, state collapse acted as a leveler to rectify the inequalities across our history Should we simply learn to adapt a new gilded age Perhaps not, however we need to flex our creative muscles, to be way inventive to deal with our inequalities Since even if these cataclysmic events acted as great leveler, we can t afford to pay the price they demand, the price which may be the human existence itself or the very universe of ours from which life takes birth time and again We have witnessed holocausts, world wars and nuclear horrors as a few examples of such levelers wherein whole life of some people had been endless struggle and whose souls were subjugated to death even after leaving their bodies and we certainly would not want those levelers at least those of us who listen to heart beat of life, who understand the fabric of time but the problem is that there are very few of those of us and our species is heading towards extinction with time And the God turned men towards each other, everyone who was cured was killed during the war That is how God manifests Himself He who understands the world will suffer most God would also like to die perhaps to escape the existential horror of the world even if He doesn t exist, for He is infinite Everything within its dead expanse, every living thing was hapless and alone Things were happening by accident, and when the accident failed, automatic law appeared the rhythmical machinery of nature, the cogs and pistons of history, conformity with the rules that was rotting everywhere Every creature was trying to huddle up to something, to cling to something, to things, to each other, but all that resulted was suffering and despair As life takes birth from the ruins of destruction, life in Primeval blooms again, gradually expanding its wings to realize its full potential World becomes different once , times get changed As we do in life, Tokarczuk s characters try to solve the problem of their existence by analyzing the signs and symbols available to them But how you help someone who has seen death, he who is seized with horror that soon he, too would change into a lifeless scrap of flesh, and that would be all that would be left of him The realization brings tears to human eye who perhaps get blinded due to his qualities of greed and lust and unable to see that there is no birth or death just an immortal process repeating itself time and again And he who learns to forget would find relief A strange image, nearly absurd in its symbolism, though in this glorious book such a claim strikes us as reasonable, even enlightening.The books reminds me of One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez since both books talks about eternity of life, the regeneration of universe As I finished the book I felt as if death touched me but in its wholeness, for birth and death are just the same And I felt certain sort of peace and satisfaction as if I ve come back after a long tour of universe right from its birth to death to its birth again then to its death again further to its birth Either God exists and has always existed, or here he added the second finger God doesn t exist and never has Or else the third appeared God used to exist, but no longer does And finally, here he poked all four fingers at Izydor God doesn t exist and has to appear 5 5

  3. says:

    She just got the Nobel Prize for a different book but still give this a try This is the best magical realism I read since the

  4. says:

    This is an intriguingly unusual book, and not one I feel I understood well enough to review adequately It is an allegorical modern fairy tale set in a Polish village as it is subjected to the vagaries of twentieth century history Tokarczuk s vision has a creator God at its centre, but one who has lost much of his power, and the whole thing is suffused with a rather surreal folklorish atmosphere.

  5. says:

    This is not a history of countries and governments, nor of generals and presidents Rather, it is stories of people, just people Pawel, Misia, Ivan Mutka, Michal, Izydor, Cornspike And is about time, or Times, the Times of these people the generations and the moments It is a story of a town, Primeval, something from long ago that sways in the winds of history We see the larger, newspaper headlines subtly a forest from which soldiers do not return Katyn a red and white flag fluttering Solidarity As these larger events happen, what happens to us the miller, the housewife, the damaged My ancestors splintered in such times Some stayed hungry in their pride and their religion some joined the Party, ostracized but fed and some fled, spawning me Olga Tokarczuk shows us the Times and the possibility of choices What would you do

  6. says:

    Tokarczuk infuses the folkloric storyline with phantasmagoria and incongruous imagery, and does it pretty damn well Amazing concurrence of events that I read this book right after my first encounter with Virginia Woolf Primeval reminded me of Woolf s The Waves , yet although both spin a tale of the act of passing, the process of changing from one condition to another, their intense focus on individuals takes on different angles.If you liked The Waves , Primeval will with all probability constitute a nice complement to your bibliography.

  7. says:

    This is an amazing book One of the best I ve read this year maybe one of the best I ve read in the past decade The way each little section each of which is the Time of someone or something stands alone and yet builds into a shimmering whole is masterful, and broad in scope, as Tokarczuk depicts the 20th century and all its flawed glories through the lens of a single, small Polish town Eventually I m going to write a longer, serious review of this It s a pretty mesmerizing novel that reminds me of Virginia Woolf in the way that one of the main themes is the passage of time and the difficulties humans have comprehending that But it s something starker than Woolf And something that feels new in a dangerous way Quick quote from a chapter entitled The Time of God It is strange that God, who is beyond the limits of time, manifests Himself within time and its transformations If you don t know where God is and people sometimes ask such questions you have to look at everything that changes and moves, that doesn t fit into a shape, that fluctuates and disappears the surface of the sea, the dances of the sun s corona, earthquakes, the continental drift, snows melting and glaciers moving, rivers flowing to the sea, seeds germinating, the wind that sculpts mountains, a foetus developing in its mother s belly, wrinkles near the eyes, a body decaying in the grave, wines maturing, or mushrooms growing after a rain Love the story line about the game Squire Popielski receives from the rabbi, although it s hard to pick a single thread from this book everything is intertwined, and all the characters are charming in all their well articulated flaws.

  8. says:

    What an absolute treat to have been introduced to the tiny Polish village of Primeval, a settlement or hamlet than a village, it seems, where nothing much really happens people are born, grow old and die families lose contact with each other, suffer regrets, fall out, yearn, love and resent Yet, this hamlet seems also to encapsulate the major events of the 20th century all within their small almost mythical space overlooked by the four archangels and bounded by the White River and the Black River, the forests of Wodenica and Wydymacz, while the nearby town Jeszkotle provided shops and a centre and the road to Krakow and Kielce passes nearby.At the heart of the story is the marriage of Micha Niebieski to Genowefa on the eve of the First World War and Micha s disappearance into the Tsar s army, the birth of Misia and subsequently Izydor, Misia s marriage to Pawe Boski, and the stories of their children, fellow residents, invasion, liberation, ventures into business and all the other adventures of life and living but Primeval is not quite what it seems The order of the place seems to have less to do with God and the Virgin of Jeszkotle than it does with the contending forces of good and evil, masculine and feminine, modernity and tradition, the banality of the passage of time and a sense of emotional and cosmic limit.Although Primeval is, in part, a slightly surreal tale it is also deeply Jungian while wearing its psychological theory lightly There is nothing here as crude as an archetype, or at least not a singular one, but rich and complex characters who work in and of themselves in a self contained narrative of a couple and their daughter s family, including her intellectually disabled younger brother Tokarczuk and her translator, Antonia Lloyd Jones have a light touch that has given us a beautifully allegorical novel where, apart from the second World War, the big events of the world nation appear tangentially the strike armbands of the doctors and nurses and red and white flags tell us it is the early 1980s as the narrative voice shifts between the times of the characters and sometimes God, a labyrinthine board game, Misia s dog and others who pass through, around and by the village Equally importantly, Tokarczuk manages, even with or perhaps because of her Jungian frame, to maintain a delicate balance between the mystical and the sceptical, the magical and the material Captivating and engaging once again the fine people at Twisted Spoon Press have provided us with a treat

  9. says:

    By the author I turned on the TV Sunday afternoon, and the the night drew on, the I heard words like nation, victim, mystical coincidence, sign, accursed place, true patriotism, Katyn, truth Politicians who only a few days ago were at each other s throats are now speaking, in trembling voices, of deep meaning and the metaphysics of Katyn Not much than 20 years ago, some of these same people suppressed the truth about the deaths at Katyn to follow the Communist Party line.I am reminded that when a major trauma occurs, the kind that is both individual and collective, something happens that Jungian psychology calls an abaissement du niveau mental a lowering of the level of consciousness Intellect gives way to the gloom of the collective psyche The horrified mind tries to find meaning, but lets itself be seduced by old myths.Read

  10. says:

    This is Olga Tokarczuk s fourth novel, originally published in 1996 I have to say that I do have mixed feeling towards this novel It started really well It was imaginative, with a few characters that I was excited to find about There was an element of folklore mixed with magical realism but it was rooted in historical events the novel starts at about the time of the First World War At about halfway through I started feeling a little restless Although the story progressed and new characters were introduced and new events took place, I didn t feel like the novel was developing its own ideas I started feeling that the novel was too long and would have worked a lot better as a novella I am glad I read it but I was also glad when I got to the last page and didn t have to read any of it This hasn t put me off reading of Tokarczuk s work at all There were fragments in there that were absolutely brillant, but I can t help but feel disappointed with the novel overall I think i m going to give this 3.5 stars, rounded down.