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Poet, dissident, Harvard professor Stanislaw Baranczak dies

PR dla Zagranicy
John Beauchamp 26.12.2014 15:17
One of Poland’s best-known poets, a dissident and a Harvard professor, Stanislaw Baranczak died on Friday.


Aged 68, Baranczak died after a long debilitating disease in Boston, Massachusetts, Polish Radio reports.

A poet, critic, literary scholar and theorist, Baranczak was well known as a dissident in the Communist era. In 1977 he was sacked from his job at the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan for his political activity.

He was the leading light of the “New Wave” poetry of the late 1960s, which sought to describe the dreary realities of the People’s Republic and expose the Newspeak of the Communist party.

His brilliant parodies of officialese (“Alive? – yes, no [tick where appropriate]. Why, when and for what purpose?) made Baranczak one of the most political writers of Communist-era Poland.

In 1999 his poem collection "Surgical Precision" ("Chirurgiczna precyzja") won Poland's most prestigious literary prize, Nike.

He also wrote “The Worst Books” (“Ksiazki najgorsze”) under a pseudonym, mocking mostly ideologically “correct” graphomania.

The authorities pushed him out of the country in the early 1980s. Baranczak settled in the US where he lectured at Harvard. In that period he focused on translations from English, Russian and Lithuanian. He translated nearly all of Shakespeare’s plays into Polish. (an)

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