About the Central European Classics series:
"Half a continent's worth of forgotten genius."--The Guardian
The new Central European Classics series was born some ten years ago in the dim cafes of Budapest and Prague when General Editor Timothy Garton Ash began jotting down titles recommended to him by local writers. Its aim is to take these works of nineteenth- and twentieth-century classic fiction "out of the ghetto," onto the shelves of Western booksellers, and into the consciousness of Western readers.
The result of extensive discussion among writers, scholars, and critics, the rich tradition of Central European fiction has been culled to offer previously unavailable works written in Czech, Hungarian, and Polish that lend themselves perfectly to powerful and accurate translation. Specially commissioned introductions by leading Central European writers explain why these titles have become classics in their own country, while at the same time, the works stand on their own as great literature in English. With future titles such as a new edition of Boleslaw Prus's Polish masterpiece, The Doll, the Central European Classics series will contribute to a deeper understanding of the culture and history of countries which, since the opening of iron curtain, have been coming closer to us in many other ways.
The city of Warsaw, under Russian rule in the late 1870s, is the setting for this sweeping panorama of social conflict, political tensions, and personal suffering. The middle-aged hero, Wokulski, bold and successful in business, is being destroyed by his obsessive love for the frigid, aristocratic society "doll," Izabela. The embattled aristocracy, the new men of finance, Dickensian tradesmen, and the urban poor all come vividly to life on the vast, superbly detailed canvas against which Wokulski's personal tragedy is played out.
For this edition, the existing translation by David Welsh has been carefully revised under the supervision of the leading Polish critic, Stanislaw Bara'nczak. A chapter excised by the Tsarist censor is included as an appendix. Bara'nczak also contributes to an authoritative and illuminating new introduction to what is arguably the greatest Polish novel of the nineteenth century.