Józef Czapski: A Beautiful Human Being

Antonia Lloyd-Jones and Stanley Bill talk about the author of Inhuman Land

Source: Wikipedia

15 March 2019, 7pm for 7.30pm
55 Princes Gate
South Kensington
London SW7 2PN
Tickets: £10 non-members / £5 members and students
Entry price includes wine and nibbles
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"Józef Czapski was a beautiful human being, courageous, noble but also hard-working; occasionally a soldier, journalist, diarist, always writing, drawing, always with a sketchbook in hand, always ready to help friends and strangers. In his person high intelligence and remarkable artistic talent met with an active, almost naive goodness—a rather rare combination, as we know."
– Adam Zagajewski 




Antonia Lloyd-Jones and Dr Stanley Bill will show photographs from Józef Czapski’s life and examples of his paintings, and will read short extracts from Almost Nothing and Inhuman Land to supplement the pictures. The main focus will be on Inhuman Land and Czapski’s experiences as a member of Second Corps.

Inhuman Land. Searching for the Truth in Soviet Russia, 1941-1942 has been recently published by Penguin/Random House in a new translation by Antonia Lloyd-Jones translation, and with Introduction by Timothy Snyder. 


"This gentle, tenacious, adamantine figure has been far too little known in the West—until now. New York Review Books recently published a moving and strikingly original biography by Eric Karpeles, Almost Nothing: The 20th-Century Art and Life of Józef Czapski; a new translation by Antonia Lloyd-Jones of Inhuman Land: Searching for the Truth in Soviet Russia, 1941-42; and Mr. Karpeles’s translation of Czapski’s Lost Time: Lectures on Proust in a Soviet Prison Camp. Together these books document Czapski’s physical and spiritual survival during a nightmare era, but, more than that, they re-create an overlooked life, one marked by an exemplary measure of modesty, moral clarity and artistic richness. Moreover, Mr. Karpeles, a California-based painter and art critic, has ignited international interest in Czapski’s artwork.”
—Cynthia Haven, The Wall Street Journal

“The Polish painter and writer Józef Czapski lived through almost the entire twentieth century as an exception to the rule. A pacifist who became a Polish army officer being deported to a Soviet prison camp in 1939, he was one of very few to survive the Katyn massacre perpetrated by Stalin’s secret police the following year….He was both a patriot and a European in the deepest sense, with friends and family connections across the continent. In this year’s centenary of independence regained, a new generation of Poles in a country at the crossroads must decide whether Czapski’s vision will also be theirs.”
—Stanley Bill, Times Literary Supplement


Antonia Lloyd-Jones received the Found in Translation Award in 2009 and 2012 and won the 2018 Transatlantyk Award for the most outstanding promoter of Polish literature abroad. She has translated works by several of Poland’s leading contemporary novelists and reportage authors, as well as crime fiction, poetry and children’s books. She is a mentor for the Emerging Translators’ Mentorship Programme, and former co-chair of the UK Translators Association.

Stanley Bill is a Lecturer in Polish Studies at Cambridge and translator. He works largely on twentieth-century Polish literature and culture, with particular interests in the poetics of the body, religion and secularization, Polish-Ukrainian relations, and postcolonial interpretations of Polish cultural and political history. He has published widely on Czesław Miłosz, Bruno Schulz, postcolonial theory in the Polish context, legacies of Polish Romanticism, as well as on religious problems in the novels of Fyodor Dostoevsky.

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