Grażyna Bacewicz

Personality - Writer

You’ve asked what literature gives me. Well, I’ll tell you something funny. I dared to write a novel. During the [Warsaw] Uprising. When Kisiel was writing his Sprzysiężenie (Conspiracy), I was writing too. Somehow we confessed this to each other. He gave me his novel to read and I gave him mine. Can you imagine, not only did he not laugh at me, but he even helped me to sell the book. I remember I bought a fur for Alinka for the money I’d got. After the war publishing it was out of the question. Of course I now see its huge shortcomings and my ineptitude. I keep this fragmentary work of mine secret. I produced several more novels, which were read shortly after the war on the radio, under a pseudonym, and a humorous sketch, which Eile wanted to publish in Przekrój, but it was too long and couldn’t be spread over two issues. So nothing came out of that. Today I laugh at all this.

From a letter to Tadeusz Ochlewski – April 1950

Why did she write? A believer in a monistic theory of music, she apparently needed a more unequivocal way to express her thoughts, reflections, to give a real shape to a game of imagination. She had her specific tastes. The composer’s sister, Wanda, recalled that the writers firmly rejected by Grażyna were Dostoyevsky and Sartre, entire existentialism in general. But she highly appreciated Russian, English, French, Czech and, of course, Polish literature. Writers close to her heart were Thomas Mann from The Magic Mountainand Doctor Faustusas well as Franz Kafka. Although she did not shy away from social life, she appreciated moments of loneliness. That is why when people tried to drag her into the whirl of life, she would quote a poem by Biernat of Lublin, Kto miłuje księgi nie miewa tęskności (Who loves books does not feel longing), the last stanza of which reads as follows:

Those who sit with books
Can never be alone,
But when they sit amidst a crowd,
They are truly on their own.

When talking about her sister’s literary loves, Wanda Bacewicz mentioned that Grażyna appreciated wit and humour in art. This predilection found its expression in many of her musical works. Is it the same with literature? In the only published collection of the composer’s short stories, Znak szczególny (A Distinguishing Mark), humour is omnipresent. Each story ends with a punchline summing up the event described by the author, and the whole makes up a small autobiography of Bacewicz, highlighting funny, sometimes tragicomic events but nevertheless showing a bright side of life. Grażyna Bacewicz’s oeuvre as a writer also includes four novels (among them one crime novel), a theatrical play and a dozen or so stories. Her play, which in 1963 was awarded with a distinction in a competition organised by Teatr Ateneum, was directed for television by Edward Dziewoński as Jerzyki, albo nie jestem ptakiem (Swifts or I’m Not A Bird). Grażyna Bacewicz’s other literary works have remained in manuscript form, although preparations are under way for some of them to be published.