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Beyond the Public View

Beyond the Public View

Tadeusz Konwicki: A Minor Apocalypse; Translated by Richard Lourie; Farrar, Straus & Giroux; New York.

Contemporary Poland, for many reasons, disquiets the West. To those who nurture visions of a painless and peaceful accord between the Soviets and the United States against the supposed “common enemy” of nuclear weapons, the squashing of Solidarity to placate Moscow forms an unwelcome reminder of Soviet imperialism which it has long been fashionable to ignore. Similarly, the spectacle of real tyranny reveals the rhetorical hollowness of the domestic cant about “repression” heard whenever there is resistance (nearly always sporadic and feeble) to some new cultural assault on traditional ways. Nor can the helplessness of the West in the face of Poland’s misery be anything but frustrating to those who entertain no faddish illusions, who know that if the Cold War is ended it was finished largely by a unilateral act of Western self-deception.

 

Tadeusz Konwicki’s A Minor Apocalypse deals with repression; like the news from Poland, it is disturbing. However, Konwicki’s jaggedly intense novel explores dimensions of repression not captured by television shots of tanks and troops challenging striking workers or by journalistic...

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