9.04.2024 News

Proust Against Despair: Józef Czapski and the Impact of Proust

Tuesday, April 9th, 2024; 6:00-7:30 pm

The Proust Center at Jefferson Market Library

Eric Karpeles, in conversation with Monika Zaleska. 

This event explores the influence of Marcel Proust’s writings on Polish writer and painter Józef Czapski (1896-1993). From his early literary criticism to a series of lectures he gave on Proust’s great novel while a prisoner-of-war in the Soviet Union during WWII, and on to his later journals and essays, Czapski derived enormous inspiration from the French novelist. In the 1920s, Czapski lived and worked in Paris with a small band of Polish painters; during these years he rubbed shoulders with people who knew Proust and inhabited his milieu. Once the Second World War ended, Czapski again made France his home, as a political refugee, living with a group of spirited men and women who founded Kultura, a periodical of European culture and realpolitik that became the displaced voice of Polish politics and literature throughout the postwar communist era. We will explore aspects of how In Search Of Lost Time guided Czapski’s life and work–and held off despair in dark moments of the 20th century.

Presented in the first floor Willa Cather Room.   All events are free and open to the public.  

As space is limited, registration is required for this event. 

Eric Karpeles is the author of Paintings in Proust. With the publication of three books, he has introduced Polish painter and writer Józef Czapski to English language readers, having translated Czapski’s Lost Time: Lectures on Proust in a Soviet Prison Camp, written a biography, Almost Nothing: The 20th Century Art and Life of Józef Czapski, and produced an artist’s monograph, Józef Czapski: An Apprenticeship of Looking. 

Monika Zaleska is a writer, translator, and PhD candidate in comparative literature at the CUNY Graduate Center. She is writing her dissertation on Proust’s influence on Polish writer and artist Józef Czapski. She is currently a lecturer in Polish Studies at Hunter College.

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