boundary

The latest addition to my website is Zofia Nałkowska‘s Granica (Boundary). This is a superb Polish feminist novel, first published in 1935, which surprisingly has only just been translated into English, eighty years after publication. It is considered a classic in Poland and should now be recognised as one in the English-speaking world. We learn from the very first paragraph that Zenon Ziembiewicz has been killed, murdered by Justyna Bogutówna, his former lover. The novel tells us the story of how this came to happen. Zenon had been a serious young man, somewhat in love with Elżbieta Biecka, who helped her twice-widowed aunt run her large house, which had been turned into flats. Zenon goes off to Paris to study but, on return, falls for Justyna, the nineteen-year old daughter of the cook on the estate where his father works as an overseer. The affair continues on and off but Justyna gets pregnant, while Zenon, now a successful newspaper editor, is more interested in Elżbieta. The novel shows many of the women as victims of men’s cruelty, drunkenness, irresponsibility and womanising as well as showing the often desperate situation of the poor, while telling an excellent story of love gone wrong.