Black Sea­sons

Michal Glowin­s­ki; Mar­ci Shore, trans.
  • Review
By – July 13, 2012
Fifty years after his depar­ture, Michal Glowin­s­ki returns to the world of his child­hood with a series of par­tial­ly-remem­bered images, inci­dents, events and reflec­tions. Each one relates an expe­ri­ence emerg­ing from flash­es of mem­o­ry, a par­tial recon­struc­tion of what hap­pened to him and how he sur­vived. He recalls his ear­ly child­hood fan­ta­sy of what he thought a ghet­to would be like. Now he remem­bers the ghet­to by the gray­ish col­or of the paper that cov­ered its dead cit­i­zens await­ing cartage and an ema­ci­at­ed vio­lin­ist play­ing a Mendelssohn con­cer­to on the ghet­to streets. He recalls the family’s dar­ing escape from the ghet­to and the Amer­i­can uncle, a black sheep of the fam­i­ly who had returned to Poland to escape pay­ing alimo­ny, who was instru­men­tal in sav­ing them and oth­er fam­i­ly mem­bers. Anoth­er sto­ry relates how when a black­mail­er threat­ened to dis­close the attic hid­ing place of his fam­i­ly, the shab­by lit­tle chess set Michal car­ried with him prob­a­bly saved the fam­i­ly from being turned over to the Gestapo, as he and the black­mail­er played while await­ing the return of an aunt who went to col­lect the mon­ey. The fam­i­ly ulti­mate­ly had to sep­a­rate. Michal was saved by Pol­ish nuns in a con­vent in Turkow­ice that hid many Jew­ish boys pass­ing as prac­tic­ing Catholics. Once he and some of the oth­er boys were tak­en to a pala­tial home as a treat where they received some choco­lates. His moth­er was work­ing there as a (Chris­t­ian) maid and had to make sure that Michal didn’t see her. There are so many fas­ci­nat­ing­ly recalled episodes that in addi­tion to being anoth­er tes­ta­ment to the Shoah, it is — one might almost say, despite the tragedies — enjoy­able read­ing. Glowin­s­ki is a tal­ent­ed writer and a dis­tin­guished schol­ar, occu­py­ing a chair of lit­er­ary the­o­ry at the pres­ti­gious Insti­tute of Lit­er­ary Stud­ies in Warsaw.
Mar­cia W. Pos­ner, Ph.D., of the Holo­caust Memo­r­i­al and Tol­er­ance Cen­ter of Nas­sau Coun­ty, is the library and pro­gram direc­tor. An author and play­wright her­self, she loves review­ing for JBW and read­ing all the oth­er reviews and arti­cles in this mar­velous periodical.

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