“Witkiewicz takes up and continues the vein of dream and grotesque fantasy exemplified by the late Strindberg or by Wedekind; his ideas are closely paralleled by those of the surrealists and Antonin Artaud which culminated in the masterpieces of the dramatists of the absurd—Beckett, Ionesco, Genet, Arrabal—of the late nineteen forties and the nineteen fifties.” -Martin Esslin
Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz (pen name: Witkacy) was desperate to get out of revolutionary St. Petersburg after the Bolsheviks seized power. Back in Poland, eager to make money and a name for himself, Witkacy began to write plays in a style that he called “Pure Form,” which foreshadowed the Theatre of the Absurd. By the time that he wrote VAHAZAR (1921), Witkacy had achieved a dreamlike dramaturgy: centered on the paranoid and crazed despot, Vahazar, and spiraling outwards through an anthill society of automatons, religious cults, and quack scientific and social theories, this play is about being trapped in nothingness.
This translation of the play by Celina Wieniewska was commissioned by Stefan Themerson in 1967, and later announced as a forthcoming title by the legendary Gaberbocchus Press. Somehow the project was sidetracked and has never appeared until this Black Scat Books publication. Paul Rosheim, publisher of Obscure Publications and scholar of Themersonia, provides a sublime introduction with biographical information about Witkacy and the story of this translation. The book also includes an appendix featuring Franciszka Themerson’s “Vahazar: A Few Suggestions for Design.”
“…Witkiewicz, Bruno Schulz and myself, the three musketeers of the Polish avant-garde.” —Witold Gombrowicz
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