7.02.2023 Events, Literature

Andrzej Sapkowski with David French

S3E2 and all video recordings are available at:
Polish Cultural Institute New York YouTube

Encounters with Polish Literature is a video series for anyone interested in literature and the culture of books and reading. Each month, host David A. Goldfarb will present a new topic in conversation with an expert on that author or book or movement in Polish literature. More about the Encounters with Polish Literature series and the timeline.

Andrzej Sapkowski (b. 1948 in Łódź), is the widely popular author of the Witcher series of fantasy novels, which has spawned games, a television series in Poland, and now a series in English on Netflix. His novels are imaginative and erudite, overflowing with futuristic speculation, European folklore, and medieval arcana, but nonetheless reflective of the times he has lived in, and they can be placed on the map of Polish literature. His more recent Hussite trilogy is historical fantasy set in Bohemia during the fifteenth-century Hussite wars. 

Fans who vote at the annual Polcon speculative fiction convention have given Sapkowski the Janusz A. Zajdel prize five times. The author is famously reclusive, though he does give occasional public readings and makes appearances at festivals. Despite the international success of the role playing game based on The Witcher, he is not a big fan of games.

In this episode we focus on Season of Storms, a standalone novel set in the world of Geralt of Rivia, the ironic, self-deprecating, monster-slaying “Witcher” (Wiedźmin) trying to maintain his moral center in a corrupt world. As with some of the other translators who have appeared on “Encounters,” we discuss the translator’s relationship with the author and oversight of the translation, which has been quite varied in all the works we’ve discussed in the series. We get a sense of the amount of research needed to translate works with such a wide range of reference. We talk about how contemporary everyday life can filter through a completely fantastic world. For readers who haven’t had a chance to sample Sapkowski yet, the translator reads some extended passages from Season of Storms.

Robin Hood and his Merry Men—David French, Andrzej Sapkowski, and his agent, Patricia Pasqualini. Photo by Stevie Finegan.

The Witcher series in English translation:

The Last Wish. Tr. Danusia Stok. New York: Orbit, 2022.
Sword of Destiny. Tr. David French. New York: Orbit, 2022.
Blood of Elves (Krew elfów, 1994). Tr. Danusia Stok. New York: Orbit, 2022.
Time of Contempt (Czas pogardy, 1995). Tr. David French. New York: Orbit, 2022.
Baptism of Fire (Chrzest ognia, 1996). Tr. David French. New York: Orbit, 2022.
The Tower of Swallows (Wieża Jaskółki, 1997). Tr. David French. New York: Orbit, 2022.
Lady of the Lake (Pani Jeziora, 1999). Tr. David French. New York: Orbit, 2022.
Season of Storms (Sezon burz, 2013). Tr. David French. New York: Orbit, 2022.

The Hussite trilogy:

The Tower of Fools (Narrenturm, 2002). Tr. David French. New York: Orbit, 2020.
Warriors of God (Boży bojownicy, 2004). Tr. David French. New York: Orbit, 2021.
Light Perpetual (Lux perpetua, 2006). Tr. David French. New York: Orbit, 2022.

Witcher spinoffs:

The Witcher role-playing game from CD Projekt Red Gear
The Witcher Netflix series

David French

David French’s first book project was to translate the captions for a slim volume of photographs Cieszyn in Photographs by Władysław Sosna and later Waldemar “Major” Fydrych’s Lives Of The Orange Men: A Biographical History of the Polish Orange Alternative Movement. Then came Andrzej Sapkowski’s Witcher books: Time of ContemptBaptism of FireSword of DestinyThe Tower of the SwallowThe Lady of the LakeSeason of Storms, and the short story The Road of No Return. That was followed by the same author’s Hussite Trilogy, consisting of: The Tower of FoolsWarriors of God, and Light Perpetual. Apart from literature he has translated subtitles for Polish TV series, documentary and feature films and several movie screenplays. He worked closely with director Andrzej Jakimowski as a translator and voice coach on his film Imagine and on his latest project – currently in post-production.

Bartek Remisko, Executive Producer
David A. Goldfarb, Host & Producer 
Natalia Iyudin, Producer

Lead image: Andrzej Sapkowski, photo: Piotr Kamionka / East News. Source: Culture.pl

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