The first translation of painter and writer J zef Czapski's inspiring lectures on Proust, first delivered in a prison camp in the Soviet Union during World War II.
J zef Czapski (1896-1993) was a writer and artist, as well as an officer in the Polish army. In 1918, he enrolled in the Warsaw School of Fine Arts, but shortly thereafter he suspended his studies in order to travel to Russia at the request of military authorities to search for officers in his division who has disappeared in action. At the end of the Russian Civil War, he went back to his studies, this time at Krakow's Academy of Fine Arts and soon relocated to Paris with some fellow students, thus founding the Komitet Paryski, or "Paris Committee," later known as the Kapist movement. Czapski was drafted into the army at the beginning of World War II, soon after landing in a Soviet prisoner of war camp. Once free, he was assigned to investigate another disappearance of officers, who he would discover were victims Eric Karpeles, painter, writer and translator, is the author of Almost Nothing- The 20th Century Art and Life of J zef Czapski. His comprehensive guide, Paintings in Proust, considers the intersection of literary and visual aesthetics in the work of the great French novelist. He has written about the paintings of poet Elizabeth Bishop and about the end of life as seen through the works of Emily Dickinson, Gustav Mahler and Mark Rothko. Painter of the Sanctuary and the Mary and Laurance Rockefeller Chapel, he has also translated Lorenza Foschini's Proust's Overcoat.
"To think of these radiant, incisive reflections delivered in the stinking cold of a Soviet prisoner-of-war mess hall beggars imagination. A remnant of the Polish officer class done to death en mass by Stalin, Czapski was--without benefit of books or notes--among the greatest Proustians. Long may his name live." --Benjamin Taylor
"Czapski sometimes speaks of himself--but always in terms of the ceaseless battle he wages for clear vision, for full use of his gifts, the battle to imbue his life with maximal meaning." --Adam Zagajewski