Ursula Phillips on Zofia Nałkowska

Encounters with Polish Literature: Zofia Nałkowska

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Zofia Nałkowska, one of the leading literary figures of interwar Poland is on the agenda in my conversation with translator and scholar, Ursula Phillips, on this month's edition of "Encounters with Polish Literature."

Nałkowska played a significant role in bringing the realist novel into the twentieth century, combining a sense of scientific observation with new concepts in psychology, and applying forms of the diary and reportage in her fiction. In some ways she prefigured Gombrowicz's idea of "form" in her examination of gender roles as rigid patterns in social life, and the writing of Bruno Schulz may never have surfaced, had Nałkowska not introduced his work to the publisher, Rój. Her writing addresses topics such as gender inequality in sexual life and in labor, abortion, the development of the newly independent Polish state between the wars, the problems of national minorities in Poland and throughout the world, war, and genocide

We are very fortunate to have four of her prose works in print in modern translations, which you can find linked in the bibliography along with a selection of background readings in English, and an introduction and link to the full episode at:


or go directly to the video at:



David A. Goldfarb