Translations of Stefan Grabinski, Poland's Poe, Lovecraft, of sorts
February 10, 2014 3:40 PM   Subscribe

Stefan Grabiński is often called "the Polish Poe" or "the Polish Lovecraft," which are both useful for short-hand, but don't quite capture Grabiński's style. As suggested by China Miéville in the Guardian, "where Poe's horror is agonised, a kind of extended shriek, Grabinski's is cerebral, investigative. His protagonists are tortured and aghast, but not because they suffer at the caprice of Lovecraftian blind idiot gods: Grabinski's universe is strange and its principles are perhaps not those we expect, but they are principles - rules - and it is in their exploration that the mystery lies." If you haven't heard of Grabiński, it is probably because only a few of his works have recently been translated to English. The primary translator is Miroslaw Lipinski, who runs a site dedicated to Grabiński. You can read Lipinksi's translation of Strabismus (PDF linked inside), and The Wandering Train online.

If you'd like some more, you can read an excerpt of In Sarah's House, as translated by Wiesiek Powaga, and you can listen to Ksenia in Polish as an audiostory on Or if you'd like more information on Grabiński, Latarnia has a page on the author and some related works, including a long article on Grabiński's filmography. On that note, Lipinski has posted a partial filmography, including links to clips of the Polish film adaptation of The Siding.
posted by filthy light thief (11 comments total) 77 users marked this as a favorite
Stanisław Lem was a fan. A collection of Grabiński novels has been published in 1975 in the series "Stanisław Lem Poleca" (Stanisław Lem Recommends).
I liked several of them but his style was a bit too flowery for me. Quite the norm in Polish literature of the interwar period.
posted by hat_eater at 4:53 PM on February 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

Oooh, I really like China Mieville. This is bookmarked for iPad commute reading. It sounds fascinating!
posted by chatongriffes at 4:54 PM on February 10, 2014

posted by Sticherbeast at 5:37 PM on February 10, 2014

Too weird, I just linked to Grabinski today, although I didn't know much about him beyond that he fit the asker's criteria. Thanks, FLT!
posted by WidgetAlley at 5:37 PM on February 10, 2014

WidgetAlley, I should give you credit. I read your reference to the "Polish Poe" and wanted to know more. Viola, here we are!
posted by filthy light thief at 6:35 PM on February 10, 2014 [2 favorites]

Oh man, that's awesome! So glad that sparked your interest and not just because now you did all the research legwork so I don't have to.
posted by WidgetAlley at 9:09 PM on February 10, 2014

Again and again, these stories attain a crescendo of sustained hysteria, while, for their invocation of primordial powers, their penetrating psychological insights, and their brooding, misanthropic pessimism, one might liken the ensuing effect to sitting in the company of Madame Blavatsky, escorted by Arthur Machen and Guy de Maupassant, and chaperoned by Arthur Schopenhauer, screaming at the top of their lungs on a runaway roller coaster.
posted by inire at 2:07 AM on February 11, 2014

The Fear of the Exhaustively Documented?
posted by LogicalDash at 3:37 AM on February 11, 2014

I remember the first time I read Lovecraft as a kid, thinking, "This is Poe on eugenics. Any questions?"
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:15 AM on February 11, 2014

I just read The Wandering Train. If, as Charles Stross suggests, the major change that inspired Lovecraft was the expanding body of astronomical knowledge, and thus the commensurately shrinking significance of humanity in the universe, it seems that The Wandering Train's equivalent would be advances in mathematics and logic, such as Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem, suddenly sundering the promise that all may be explicable.
posted by acb at 7:45 AM on February 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

For some final tangents, here's a travelogue of sorts, a forum post titled "In search of Stefan Grabinski," briefly commenting on various locations that were key in Grabiński's life. It seems the photos are mostly missing, but there's an interesting string of discussions on Grabiński.

Here's a list of issues of The Grabinski Reader, which was apparently published annually from 1986-90.

Clips from Ultima Thule: opening credits on YouTube and 3 minutes on Facebook.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:04 PM on February 18, 2014

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