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The Library of Babel

A Spin-off of http://bookwormshead.blogspot.co.uk

Polonia - Il paese che rinasce

Polonia - Il paese che rinasce - Jerzy Lukowski,  Hubert Zawadzki Went to one of the Italian presentations of this book, already printed in the UK with Cambridge Press.

It was a very typical (and rather boring) example of academic exibitionism of both Italian and Polish university professors blabbering about their own little corner of a self representative world. Instead of introducing the book as it may have deserved these people were criticizing the tiniest "wrong" detail in it.

Three hours of debate almost without talking about what is really inside this book I didn't read yet, but concentrating on its editing, minor translation choices and small historic episodes the two authors forgot to mention.

Well, probably they had to "forget" them! Otherwise would have been kind of impossible concentrating 900 years of Polish history in 350 pages. But go and tell this to the "Italian Polonists": they would never understand. Quoting one of the professors at the presentation "this book has a limit, there are no notes to the text and a book without notes is a naked one".
Sure. Certo. Jasne. Have you ever heard of artistic nakedness?
Probably not. Personally, I'm glad this book doesn't have notes.

What the most brilliant minds studying the Polish language and lovely discoursing on it, didn't get is that here we have a way for presenting Poland to a wider Italian audience. An audience that may have not studied the magic of Polish strumental case at the university and maybe is just interested in knowing more about a country long time forgotten on our history books.

Lukowski and Zawadki tried to do their best and this book is interesting to read and full of documentation. The Italian publisher should have worked more for introducing this book (no English interpreter for the very patient Lukowski at the presentation), but had the worth and intelligence to translate and print it.
And in Italy the same idea of investing money and time for promoting a history book is enough for a sincere handclap.

All that said, the book is not perfect, but important and accurate.

PS: The only thing the Italian editor is really to blame for is not adding any extra information about what happened in Poland after 2005 when the English edition ends. Guys, if you publish a book in 2009 presenting it as an account on what's happening in a country you should write down some lines about its last four years.