Empowerment and Jacob’s books

Polish writer Olga Tokarczuk (Nobel Prize for Literature 2019) announced that on June 1, she will publish a new novel after eight years: Strengthening. natural medicine horror. In the meantime, awaiting judgmentInternational Booker Prize (Best Book translated into English and published in the UK): For the third time, in the past five years, it is in the final (also thanks to its translator Jennifer Croft). Together with other Nobel Prize laureates in literature (including Svetlana Alekseevich and Mario Vargas Llosa) he signed a strong plea in support of Ukraine.

Olga Naoga Tokarczuk was born in 1962 to a family with roots in a Polish region that now belongs to Ukraine. The story of the Tokarczuk family is one of change and migration. Having studied psychology in Warsaw (she considers herself close to Carl Gustav Jung’s school) and worked as a therapist in Wroclaw, since 1998 she has moved to a small Sudetenland village, Nowa Roda, near the Polish-Czech border, where she writes and runs his publishing house (Rota ). She is the author of, among other things, of Che Guevara and other stories (Forum, 2006); A house by day, a house by nightFahrenheit 451, 2007); Drive your chariot over the bones of the dead (Notitempo, 2013); at quiet time (Notitempo, 2013); the homeless (Pompani 2019).

“in writing Strengthening Impossible, the pandemic has paradoxically helped me. The world has slowed down, my life has slowed down, and I have been able to devote myself to work in peace” – said Olga Tokarczuk in an interview with “Gazeta Wyborcza”. The novel is set in the city of Görbersdorf, now Sokołowsko (Lower Silesia), in the fall of 1913. The protagonist, Mieczysław Wojnicz Wojnicz, a hydraulic engineering student from Lviv, suffering from tuberculosis, goes to the thermal baths of the cities, founded in the mid-19th century (before the famous Davos, Switzerland) by Dr. Hermann Bremer, who used an innovative method for manipulating climate and food. These innovative methods and clear air will stop the progression of his disease, and possibly cure it completely.He goes to stay in a men-only pension, run by the eccentric Wilhelm Opitz, which hosts other patients such as Longin Lukas (Königsberg grammar teacher), August (a socialist and writer from Prague) and Thilo von Hahn (expert painter from Berlin on landscapes).At the table, during many tours to thermal baths and trips to the mountains, they discussed the nature of the world; the role and importance of women; Europe threatened by war. Is monarchy or democracy better; if e Knack demons…because Wojnicz knows about the horror stories and the tragic events that took place in the mountainous areas surrounding the sanatorium. He is fascinated by him but does not know that dark forces have already taken him as a target. The novel is very reminiscent, even frankly, magic mountain (The Magic Mountain) by Thomas Mann.

Also in June, Pompiani, who also republishes all previous novels, announced the release of a translation of Tokarczuk’s most important book, Jacob’s books (KsięJ Jacobboy), was published in 2004 and set in the 18th century, in the final period of the Polish-Lithuanian Confederation (also known as the Republic of the Two Nations) which between 1569 and 1795 saw the unification of Poland and Lithuania into a sovereign state: a world in which Catholics, Jews and Muslims coexist but With many disputes. The subtitle of the large novel (almost a thousand pages) explains it all: A fascinating journey across seven borders, five languages ​​and three major religions, not to mention the small ones.

The story refers to an important and controversial episode in Jewish history, linked to the heresy of Jacob Joseph Frank (born Jacob Lijboich: 1726-1791), the self-proclaimed Messiah, which led many Jews to forcibly convert to Catholicism. Frank was a follower of another figure who claimed to be the Messiah: the Ottoman Jewish mystic and kabbalist Sabatay Zevi (1626-1676). In fact, Zvi converted to Islam in 1666, possibly because he was threatened with death. To overcome the shock, his most devoted followers instituted a doctrine that this apostasy affirmed its messianic quality: it was a necessary apostasy because Christ had to save the world through error, casting himself into the impurity of redemption. Hundreds of his followers imitated him, converting en masse to Islam or Catholicism, while remaining internally Jewish. In the world of diasporas, and particularly in the East, this doctrinal mixing caused widespread confusion, yet it did not stop the fascination with messianism. In the following century, Jacob Frank declared himself an incarnation of Ziphi and also of King David. His sermons rejected the Torah and considered valid only the teachings of the Kabbalah and the Zohar, and also because they did not conflict with the Christian doctrine of the Trinity. In 1756, the rabbinical court of Satanov condemned him and his followers for violating the laws of Jewish morality, and the Conference of Rabbis held in Brody issued an excommunication of heresy. Presenting himself as persecuted by the Jews, Frank gained the support of some circles of the Polish Catholic hierarchy and was baptized in Lviv on September 17, 1759, and again in Warsaw, the next day, with King Augustus III as godfather. Frank then ended his days under the protective wing of the Habsburg Empire and in close contact with the Masonic circles. The entire path of Jewish messianism at that time was passed through a powerful mystical vein, where the earthly world was not created by the “living and good God”, but by the power of evil, imprisoning divine sparks in the malignant. Article imprisonment. The task of Christ will be precisely to free the divine sparks from matter. The Francoists were of notable importance in Polish thought also in the following centuries.

Besides heretic Frank, in Tokarczuk’s novel, a series of historical figures appear such as: the Baroque poet Elipita Drupaka; aristocratic politician Katarzyna Kosakovska (Frank’s protector and followers); Benedictine Benedykt Chmielowski (1700-1763), author of one of the first Polish encyclopedias (Nowe Ateny albo Akademia wszelkiej scjencji pełghLviv 1754-1756) and adventure poet and religious theorist Anthony “Molyuda” Kosakovsky.

Jacob’s books It shatters the idealistic vision of Poland before partition. He was considered a sort of “anti-Sienkiewicz” (author of rhetoric and famous Ko Vadis patriotic Triple). For this reason it was praised by critics and readers, but it was violently attacked by some Polish nationalist circles and Olga Tokarczuk became the target of a hate campaign on the Internet (see Mariusz Jałoszewski, Internetowy lincz na Oldze Tokarczuk. Zbeeh Bisark (Extrajudicial execution of Olga Tokarczuk on the Internet. Writer killed), “Gazeta Wiburcza”, 15 / X / 2015). “I was naive, I thought we would be able to discuss the dark areas of our history,” Tokarczuk admitted in an interview after the book was published, and the nationalist controversy and online hate campaign that followed.

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