Volcano and Miracle
Selected and translated from the Polish by Ronald Strom. A selection of fiction and non-fiction from the Journal Written At Night published by Institut Littéraire, Paris and Czytelnik, Warsaw between 1973 and 1993.
In more than one hundred journal entries from 1970 to 1993, Gustaw Herling displays the 'stylistic mastery and depth' (The Boston Sunday Globe) that have earned him recognition as Poland's greatest living writer. This kaleidoscopic collection includes semi-fictional tales, based on historical sources, that mirror the fragility of the art and of human life. Here also are brilliant critical pieces on Soviet communism and figures such as Kafka, Thomas Mann, Melville, Camus, and Dostoevsky. As described the The New Yorker; Herling "displays a rare blend of warmth without sentimentality, intelligence without vanity and moral vision without complacency."
"A unique and wonderfully entertaining collection of reflections and fictions....The publication in English of this excellent selection...is cause for celebration. Herling is a virtuoso of his chosen genre. His little pieces-most are only a page or two-are rich in a rare sort of intelligence that is specifically literary....[T]hanks to Strom’s fine translation, Herling’s gift for prose comes through as forthright and unpretentious yet also elegant."
"Mr Herling writes powerfully of the tragic and the bizarre....What really ties together this collection of sometimes obscure, sometimes random, observations is a profound optimism, an optimism that can only be sustained by one who has survived the most horrific experiences."
- Anne Applebaum, Wall Street Journal
"For Herling, the journal is a medium for gathering and assessing the raw materials of history and culture rather than a vehicle for self-revelation. His musings range over the centuries, a continuing collage of anecdote, reportage, and commentary."
- Merle Rubin, Christian Science Monitor
"Herling is a writer of rare moral stature, and “Volcano and Miracle” will endure as long as anyone wishes to know the loneliness and the community of those who suffer."
- Jim Krusoe, Los Angeles Times Book Review