28 May 2013

Southern Cemetery #3: Maria Pawlikowska–Jasnorzewska

'THIS STONE WAS ERECTED
BY THE UNION OF POLISH WRITERS ABROAD
AND THE POLISH COMMUNITY IN EXILE
IN COMMEMORATION OF
THIS GREAT POLISH POETESS.
A.D. 1973.'
 
The word 'poetess' would probably have sounded slightly better in 1973 than it sounds today. Maria Jasnorzewska, or Maria Pawlikowska-Jasnorzewska (1891–1945), was associated with the Warsaw-based Skamander poetry group. She left Poland in 1939 with her third husband, Stefan Jerzy Jasnorzewski, and died in Manchester.

She was also a playwright, and her Baba-dziwo, or A Woman of Wonder (1937), is generally understood to be a satire of Hitler. The play depicts a dictatorship in which a 'masculine' woman Valida Vrana rules a country called Ritonia, in which she strongly rewards people by the number of children they have: motherhood is compulsory and women are baby-making machines. Dissent produces severe penalties. Norman and Petronika Gondor are childless and both hate Valida, although Norman conceals his hatred and tries to restrain his wife's almost open contempt.
 
But the more Valida tightens her hold on the people the more they become discontented. Petronika is a chemist and contrives to render Valida powerless by means of a perfumed flower that is both irresistable and narcotic: with the despot out of the picture, the people are freed and Norman takes control of the country.
 
Behind the flowers on the grave someone had placed a sealed, pink plastic sleeve containing two photos of Maria Jasnorzewska, which I include below. They may not have come out too well through the plastic, but at least they put a face to the writer.
 
 
 
And below is a link to a translation of Baba-dziwo by Elwira M. Grossman, Paul J. Kelly and Stephen Grecco, which may not be brilliant but it does give an idea of what the author is trying to say:
 
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A Woman of Wonder, by Maria Pawlikowska-Janorzewska


My other posts on Southern Cemetery graves:

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The Manchester Sound
L. S. Lowry
David Martin
George Ghita Ionescu
John and Enriqueta Rylands
John Cassidy
Jerome Caminada
George Freemantle
Leo Grindon and Rosa Grindon
Eric Thompson

1 comment:

Joanna Mycka said...

She was amazing woman.