I originally discovered Mr. Borowski through a wayward book of poetry in a used bookstore at a college town. Another poet had submitted a set of poems for publication, and the letter of refusal the poet received from the publisher stating that he had been unable to publish other books because of the cost of translating and printing Borowski's poetic works was within the book. Meanwhile, This Way To The Gas is considered a twentieth century classic.
Of course, it isn't much of a leap to see why: While the stories limit themselves to the Holocaust and its effects, the poems take their cuts wherever they find them. Indeed, some of his angriest words are aimed at the West.
Another criticism of Borowski's work is that with his prose the story tells itself, whereas he tends to allow his emotions to run rampant in his poetry. While I can understand people's discomfort, part of poetry is the expression of emotion. Detachment is easier even in a short story, as plot and perspective (most of the time third person omniscient) dictates that bias be subsumed into the storyline. Not only that, but every poetry fan remembers hearing bad poem after bad poem that wore its emotional bias on its sleeve as its excuse to break every remaining rule of quality authorship.
However, I think that everyone who has read Borowski should know his poetic works, as these works are what lead up to This Way To The Gas. They portray his thoughts and experiences and show the development of his muse, as well as help explain some of his decisions later in life (such as embracing the Communist world-view).
There are no books of his poetry being sold (as far as I know). However, I can offer his prose work, as well as a book of him and two other halocaust survivors:
This Way To The Gas is the collection of works by Borowski. It's not easy reading, but definitely worth going through.
We Were In Auschwitz is a collection of works by Borowski and two other authors. It gives an unusual viewpoint to the Holocaust: as political prisoners, they were allowed to live and even find positions of comfort within the camp bureaucracy. How they got there and how it warped their viewpoint is the story behind the words of this book.
Both the book image and the words underneath function as links you can use to purchase a Paperback copy of these books. If you want Hardcover (To donate to a public library perhaps, or for your personal collection), select the link labeled "Hardcover Version" below the paperback link.
We Were in Auschwitz
Tadeusz wasn't the only person who survived the Holocaust. Indeed, his story is one of the more normal ones: Someone with leeway to escape fate finds a place within the system and lives off exploiting others.
However, extreme times may call for extreme adaptations. Consider the following examples:
A german jewish boy escapes to Russia with his family, only to find himself taken prisoner by the Germans. With a bit of pluck (and the appearant wish of the Germans to save their own, no matter where they find themselves), the boy ends up being part of the Hitler Youth (!!!) by the end of the war (Europa Europa).
A woman cursed with Jewish blood and luminous "aryan" looks is found hiding, is then beaten and tortured. After a couple of attempts to escape from her captors, the (very positively impressed) SS men give her an offer: Turn in your fellow people, or die. Also consider that the only reason she was given this offer was because of her attempted
A german woman ends up judged guilty of being the bloodthirsty ringleader of an event that involved the SS, even though her part was minor and she wasn't even the commander. Why would this happen, and how would she get into such a position in the first place??? (The Reader).
(and if you're wondering, I read the book BEFORE it became on Oprah pick)
Again, both the book image and the words underneath function as links you can use to purchase a Paperback copy of these books. If you want Hardcover (I suggest paperback because Hardcover may not be buyable. One link I've changed to "Large Print Edition" because it was still in print, unlike the hardcover version), select the link labeled "Hardcover Version" below the paperback link.
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the web address for this page is http://hunza1.tripod.com/borowski/book.html