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Primeval and Other Times Kindle Edition
-- The Prague Post
The book struck deep chords in readers, who responded to it as if a luminous new way of presenting 20th-century Poland had been found.
The prose of Primeval and Other Times has a strangely sedating effect in reading. Quietly powerful, it is a tale not soon to be forgotten.
-- World Literature Today --This text refers to the paperback edition.
About the Author
- ASIN : B006Q3YRSG
- Publisher : Twisted Spoon Press; 1st edition (24 December 2011)
- Language : English
- File size : 2140 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 154 pages
- Best Sellers Rank: 86,503 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
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The many modes of story-telling change, chapter by chapter, but - fortunately, I think - Tokarczuk opted, as the novel progressed, for an increasingly straightforward narrative, centred on the lives of two families: one, prosperous Polish peasants, and the other, a forest-dwelling, semi-gypsy mother and daughter.
This is history seen from the bottom of rural society, where war is when soldiers come to steal your stores and your daughters, where the coming of Communism is an opportunity for a cushy job as a sanitary inspector, and where sentiment is for folks from the city.
Everything is in the telling, in a rapid-fire style, far from the niceties of irony and subtle dialogue. But depth is there, earthy and real, as are the sort of concrete details which bring the set-piece scenes alive. It’s about the cycle of life and death, and the end of a thousand years of rural life, close to the forests and the rhythms of nature.
Near the end, a wannabe city girl returns to her village to find her father:
‘”You’ve come back too late,’ said her father in the doorway. ‘Everything’s already over. Time to die.”
He laughed, as if he had told an excellent joke. She saw that there was nothing left of his fine white teeth.’
Tokarczuk was awarded the 2018 Nobel Prize for Literature, and in 2019 she published the remarkable Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead. Primeval is an earlier and less rounded work. But it has the same creative, lively imagination and use of language. It is also deeply imbued with a similar, matter-of-fact pessimism, the vision of a world with no experience of transcendence, no underlying beauty, and no ‘God’. Relationships are strong but wholly instinctive.
There is a telling contrast with the shining works of an earlier Polish (and Jewish) novelist, Isaac Bashevis Singer (1903-1991), who also wrote about everyday folk and who also won the Nobel Prize (in 1978).