The latest book published by PWM Edition—Danuta Gwizdalanka’s Uwodziciel – Rzecz o Karolu Szymanowskim [The Seducer – A thing about Karol Szymanowski] —will appear in bookstores on 29 March 2021. This new biography of Karol Szymanowski will make readers blush.
Danuta Gwizdalanka, who recently appeared in the Polish Music Center’s 2020 Paderewski Lecture (available for viewing on the PMC YouTube page), is a noted musicologist and author of several biographies. In presenting Szymanowski’s story, Gwizdalanka chose to deviate from the classic biographical form presenting a chronological description of the protagonist’s life. The opening chapters concern Szymanowski’s relationships—with family, friends and acquaintances from all over the world. The artist’s work is the main theme of the following chapters. Readers get to know him as a composer and pianist, as well as a poet and writer, while Gwizdalanka somehow deals with all the myths about Karol Szymanowski.
As she writes in the preface: “I decided […] to look at the author of Harnasie, assuming that in the 21st century we have no reason to fall into any complexes or to assess uncritically the creators of national culture.” Gwizdalanka observes Szymanowski with a detective flair, searching through a rich correspondence, numerous memories, and documents from the period. The book shows an image of a man aware of his genius, overwhelmed by the fact that he is ahead of his time, internally torn both by his homosexuality and his life in the margins surrounded by bohemian miasmata—capricious and irresistible at the same time.
The book is crowned with a gallery of the artist’s portraits created by his literary friends.