Thank You for the Hospitality

Julia Hartwig
Thank You for the Hospitality
  • słowo/obraz terytoria
    Gdańsk 2007
    140 × 220
    424 pages
    ISBN: 978-83-7453-707-0

“From the moment I first arrived in France everything I experienced there had an influence on my path in life, affected my interests, my outlook on the world, my passions and my work,” writes Julia Hartwig in her latest book, which, as the title tells us, is a Thank You for the Hospitality. A thank-you aimed not so much at specific individuals, though they are very often mentioned too, as much as French culture and civilisation, French literature, and especially poetry, French art, which sixty (!) years ago took under its wing a young scholarship student from distant (or so it seemed) Poland. Julia Hartwig has repaid this “hospitality” truly royally, with superb books about the French poets, translations of Rimbaud, essays on French culture, ancient and modern, and about history, including the difficult, fairly recent period, as proved by the piece in this book entitled Difficult France, about the occupation-era rift in French society and the intellectual elite’s violent post-war turn to the left.
As well as essays, Thank You for the Hospitality consists of travel diaries, poems with French themes  and translations. She devotes a lot of space to Parisian outsiders, newcomers like herself, who managed to make this exceptional city their own and enrich it through their work, such as Blaise Cendrars, Max Jacob, Henri Michaux or Marcel Duchamp.
For Julia Hartwig, Paris will remain for ever the cultural capital of the world, though it hasn’t actually been that since the social revolution of the late 1960s, when London took that title away from it, as New York did later. In the post-war years however things were different, and whatever was born in the Champs Elysées area had an effect on artistic life in the West and East, South and North, no matter whether it was a song, a picture, a theatre show, a film or a book. Indeed, a book: “What is striking about French literature,” writes Julia Hartwig, “is the range of scale: the Hugo-style genius of the French spirit and the Rabelaisian bawdiness, de Musset’s charm and Apollinaire’s thrilling melody, Lautreamont’s madness, the inexhaustible passion of Rimbaud’s poetry, the latent sensitivity of Reverdy’s cubism, the inventiveness of the lyrical paradox in Jacob’s work. Old and new, separate and shared, like the root, stem, leaf and flower in one plant.”

- Krzysztof Masłoń