• June 1, 2013
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Rafał Skąpski: Venclova soothes the savage breastInterview

Fot. BFL/Andrius Ufartas

“The way Tomas Venclova writes about Vilnius shows, that the history of the city should be an example of good co-operation for Lithuanians and Poles – says Rafał Skąpski  – the director of the State Publishing Institute [PIW] in Warsaw, the publishing house which has published recently Venclova’s book: “Vilnius.  Biographical Guide.”

zw.lt: The book “Vilnius. Biographical Guide” was presented in Vilnius during the Polish Book Fair, which started last Sunday at the Polish Culture House. What the reader will find in the book?

Rafał Skąpski: The book is something new at the Polish book market. Its title in Lithuanian is „Vilniaus vardai”. Tomas Venclova has written the book for different readers, from Lithuania, as well as form the other countries. I know, that it is translated to several languages. Tomas Venclowa  supplemented the Polish issue with some tens of  biographical notes. There are biographies of the most outstanding people born in Vilnius, or connected to it: politicians, scientists, doctors, social activists and people of culture. This is an overview of the most influential people throughout the centuries. It is as well some sort of a historical research on how the city had been changing , who lived there, who produced there, what emotions were overwhelming the city’s residents. The book is to look at, too. You can read it, but you can admire it, looking at the beautiful pictures.

I presume that there are Polish threads in the book – since the Vilnius history is the history of Poles as well, Poles enriching tradition of the city.  Am I right?

Yes, that is correct. What is more interesting for us, more nice, that it confirms connections between our countries throughout the centuries. I think, that the way Tomas Venclova writes about Vilnius – very honest, without emotions – shows, that its history is and should be the history of our good co-operation, co-living, good co-thinking about the city fortune.

The book did have the Polish premiere in May, only. Is it very popular? Is the subject of Vilnius still relevant to Polish readers?

The Vilnius subject was always interesting (for Poles), regardless the fact whether  a book showed Vilnius of  XVII-XVIII  or XIX-XX centuries, or contemporary times. PIW published a book titled “The pursuit of Lithuania” written by three Polish journalists, few years ago, who have written some sort of documentary about Lithuania. The book gained quite wide recognition. I think that Tomas Venclova  beat everything. We showed “Vilnius. Biographical Guide” on International Book Fair in Warsaw. I had to order additional copies after just 10 minutes. The book will be presented in Vilnius at the Polish Book Fair. There is one more opportunity to talk about it, when Tomas Venclova will be awarded with the name of Honorable Vilnius Citizen, the event will be held on 14 of June.

You said, that a book, literature, could be a reason to talk about common history, common tradition of Poles and Lithuanians. Can the people like Toma Venclova – in your opinion – bring the better understanding and communication between two nations?

Absolutely yes.  There is saying in Poland that music soothes the savage breast. If we talk about Polish-Lithuanian issues, Tomas Venclova definitely soothes the savage breast. I think, that his wisdom and calmness may have positive effect on our politicians, so that they would consider the issues with more attention, they would try to resolve the everyday matters, all problems with less emotions, since the problems may come out always between neighbors with such a twisted history.

Is State Publishing Institute [PIW] planning joint projects with the Lithuanian authors?

There will be a book of Prof. Vytautas Ališauskas ” The history of  Christianity in Lithuania” published in short time. I think it will be interesting for all readers from Poland, and for those, who can read Polish easily in Lithuania.

Source: http://zw.lt/kultura/rafal-skapski-venclova-lagodzi-obyczaje/

Tłumaczenie by Jadwiga Granowska w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Jadwiga Granowska within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu. 

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