27.10.2016 Books

City of Lions by Józef Wittlin and Philippe Sands

Portrait of a City in Two Acts: Lviv, Then and Now

The Ukrainian city Lviv’s many names (Lviv, Lvov, Lwow, Lemberg, Leopolis) bear witness to its conflicted past – it has, at one time or another, belonged to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Poland, Russia and Germany, and has brought forth numerous famous artists and intellectuals.

My Lwow, Jozef Wittlin’s short 1946 treatise on the city he left in 1922, is a wistful and lyrical study of an electrifying cosmopolis, told from the other side of the catastrophe of the Second World War. Philippe Sand’s essay provides a parallel account of the city as it is today: the cultural capital of Ukraine, its citizens played a key role during the Orange Revolution, and its executive committee declared itself independent of the rule of President Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014.

City of Lions includes both old black-and-white photos showing Lviv during the first half of the twentieth century, and new photographs by the award-winning Diana Matar, of the city as it is today.


Józef Wittlin (born 1896) was a major Polish poet, novelist, essayist and translator. He studied in Vienna, where he met Joseph Roth and Rainer Maria Rilke, before serving in the Austro-Hungarian army in the First World War. He published one novel and numerous collections of poetry, many of which were characterised by their strong pacifist sentiments. With the outbreak of WWII he fled to France and then to New York, where he died in 1976.

Philippe Sands is a professor of Law at University College London. He specialises in International Law and International disputes. He has also published many books, including Lawless World: America and the Making and Breaking of Global Rules. His latest book is East West Street: On the Origins of Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity.

Eva Hoffman’s books include Lost in Translation, Exit Into History, After Such Knowledge, and Time, as well as two novels, The Secret, and Illuminations. She has written and lectured internationally on issues of exile, memory, Polish-Jewish history, collective trauma and human rights.

Antonia Lloyd-Jones is a prize-winning literary translator (The 2009 and 2014 Found in Translation Award) working from Polish to English. She has been a mentor for the British Centre for Literary Translation’s Mentoring Programme annually since 2012. She is currently Co-Chair of the Translators’ Association of the Society of Authors. She was a judge of the 2015 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize.

City of Lions
By Józef Wittlin and Philippe Sands
Translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones
Introduction by Eva Hoffman
Published by Pushkin Press, Pushkin Collection
Publication date: 27 October 2016
ISBN: 9781782271178
Order online

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