Poor Oscar or Twice About Love – Anna Bojarska

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We would like to reccomend you „Poor Oscar” by Anna Bojarska. It is a text which recently had a significant impact on fight for tolerance in Poland. Regardles of the value of the novel for the society, the literary value of the text itself – presenting a true picture of tragic homosexual love – makes us believe that it is worth reading.


Only few writers have been devoted so many books as Wilde. A fact that another one has appeared should not make an impression but Poor Oscar is not yet another phony biography but, as the title suggests it, a love story of the great writer and a young English lord, Alfred Douglas. It is a story told twice: by bitter, growing old Lord Alfred Douglas and by immeasurably humiliated Oscar. Both of the men have common memories of impulsive, mad, daring love and of its disastrous end. Poor Oscar, a story of a love affair  which is still sometimes referred to as “the greatest erotic scandal of all times”, is watched from two points of view: of the man who loved, and of the man who was loved. Those stories  Wilde’s, a genial artist and Douglas’, his beloved and the man who destroyed him  show how inclination to possess and to make one person fit another’s schemes remains unchanged. Yet, the call for freedom in sexual sphere is mere (or, perhaps, sheer) sign of respect for individual features of a human being, and it is cowardice which is true disgrace, “the scandal of all times”.


About the author

 Anna Bojarska is one of the biggest names among Polish contemporary writers, and, at the same time, one of the most (politically and morally) controversial one. Poor Oscar, Or Twice About Love is definitely one of her greatest novels. Poor Oscar had two Polish editions (by BGW in 1992 when it become a listed bestseller, and by tCHu in 2003). 

 Born as a Libra in communist Poland. Started writing when she was 14, when she was 15 she began studies at Department of Philosophy of the Warsaw University. After the studies she worked as a journalist. Soon she became independent by living out of writing. She finished her first novel at 20 but because of political censorship in these times publishing houses never accepted the book. Still, she published in press and when her books started to be published she became a renowned author by evoking in her readers extreme emotions  from love to hatred.

 As she puts it herself: “In my opinion, a writer’s vocation is to be a public person, and writing itself is only a means to achieve this. This means could be entirely different: perhaps fight for religious freedom or dance on a wire”. Critics and writers repeatedly call her “a terrorist of literature” (“She constantly risks making herself unpopular with her writing.”, “She loves lost cases.”, “The only living Polish political writer.”, “Alpinist on a huge dose of dope.”), what is apparently associated with her personality and temperament. As she says it: what really matters to her is absolute independence and inner freedom.

 Her Nietzschean motto: “Live dangerously” made her seek friends in various circles. Successfully: in late 70’s and early 80’s she was associated with the milieu of German and French terrorists, but also with front-page politicians. She says: “At least I know well what I write. I know the reality.” In her dangerous life she was attempted to be gained by former communist intelligence of Poland and Democratic Republic of Germany. She contacted people who created recent history, like Regis Debray, associate of Che Guevara, and Klaus Croissant, attorney of Baader-Meinhoff Group. In What Augustus Taught Me, a novel which made a scandal in Poland, she described two characters, similar to two of main Solidarity front men. Later on  just like the characters of the book, which may be attributed to the prophetic character of writing  one of them started in presidential elections, and the other became the head of the most powerful media concerns in Poland. Her intellectual and artistic independence won her numerous awards (among others Maksymilian Kolbe  Reinhold Schneider Peace Award in 1976, underground Solidarity awards in the 80’s, award of Committee for Independent Culture and many others), but also hindered her presence in Polish contemporary literature. Novels which would never be accepted by the censorship (like Agitka published in 1987 by underground publishing house Margines, Śmierć Ognia in 1986 by Rytm), were published under a pseudonym in underground publishing houses, which involved risk of severe consequences by the communist power. With the fall of communist regime, she has taken interest in less political issues like money, fear of unemployment, moral issues, “sex, art, and death”, and recently, the milieu of press people as in List otwarty do Królowej Wiktorii (Open Letter to Queen Victoria).

 Anna Bojarska has published the following novels: Lakier (Varnish), Agitka (Leaflet), Czego nauczyl mnie August (What Augustus Taught Me), List otwarty do królowej Wiktorii (Open letter to Queen Victoria) and Ja (Me), her other books are biographic essays Pięć śmierci (Five deaths) and Urban and a critical literary essay Madonna Pekaesów, czyli wyznania czytelnika-samicy (Madonna of Country Busses or Confessions of a Female Reader).She has written along with her sister Siostry B. Podwójna autobiografia: rodzinne krwawe jatki w dialogach, faksach i mailach. (B. sisters. Double biography. Bloody Family Slaughter in Dialogues, Facsimiles and Mails.). She is also an author of numerous screenplays, among others, for Modrzejewska a TV series based on life of a great Polish actress famed through her career in America. Her screenplay for a TV series about Stefan Zeromski, Polish political writer, is currently in production. She is also a playwright: Andrzej Wajda, Polish director and an Oscar Award winner has staged her Lekcja polskiego (A Lesson of Polish), where main role was played by Tadeusz £omnicki, voted one of the greatest Polish actors of 20th century. First staging of this play, telling the story of the last years of life of Tadeusz Kosciuszko, Polish national hero, took place during the changes of 1988 and 1989 and became a significant event not only of an artistic, but also of a political character. Her play La tekknique de la jungle or Meeting, written in French, about Toulouse-Lautrec and his cousin, Marie Bashkirtseff, the author of known Diaries has been produced in Polish translation for Polish Television Theatre in 1995.

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