Gustaw Herling-Grudziński - NKVD photo (Grodno 1940)
|Born||May 20, 1919
|Died||July 4, 2000
|Notable work(s)||A World Apart|
|Notable award(s)||Order of the White Eagle|
Gustaw Herling-Grudziński (May 20, 1919 − July 4, 2000) was a Polish writer, journalist, essayist, World War II underground fighter, and political dissident abroad during the communist system in Poland. He is best known for writing a personal account of life in the Soviet Gulag entitled A World Apart, first published in 1951 in London.
Gustaw Herling-Grudziński was born in Kielce into the merchant family of Jakub (Josek) Herling-Grudziński and his wife Dorota (nee) Bryczkowska. His mother died in 1932 of typhoid. His studies of Polish literature at Warsaw University were interrupted by the invasion of Poland at the outbreak of World War II.
In late 1939 Herling-Grudziński co-founded an underground resistance organization called Polska Ludowa Akcja Niepodległościowa, "PLAN". As the organization's courier he traveled to then Soviet occupied Lwów (Lviv), but was arrested in March 1940 by the NKVD and routinely sentenced to exile in Siberia on espionage charges. Imprisoned in Vitsebsk and two Gulag slave labor camps in Yertsevo and Kargopol in the Arkhangelsk region for 2 years, he was released in 1942 under the Sikorski-Mayski Agreement. He joined Gen. Władysław Anders' Army (Polish II Corps) and later fought in North Africa and in Italy, taking part in the battle of Monte Cassino. For his valor in combat he was decorated with the Order of the White Eagle, Poland's highest military decoration.
In 1947 he co-founded and initially co-edited the political and cultural magazine Kultura, then published in Rome. When the magazine moved to Paris, he settled first in London and finally in Naples, Italy, where he married Lidia, a daughter of the philosopher Benedetto Croce. He also wrote for the Italian Tempo Presente run by Nicola Chiaromonte and Ignazio Silone and for various dailies and other periodicals. He died in Naples.
Herling-Grudziński's most famous book, A World Apart, was translated into English by Joseph Marek (pen-name of Andrzej Ciołkosz) and published with an introduction by Bertrand Russell in 1951 (the 2005 edition was introduced by Anne Applebaum). By describing life in the Gulag in a harrowing personal account, Herling provides an in-depth, original analysis of the nature of the Soviet communist system. Written 10 years before Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, it brought him international acclaim but also criticism from Soviet sympathizers.
A selection from the Journal Written at Night, a journal that he wrote for 30 years, was translated by Ronald Strom and published as Volcano and Miracle (1997). A collection of his short stories, The Noonday Cemetery and Other Stories (2003), has been translated by Bill Johnston.
He was the winner of many literary prizes: Kultura (1958), Jurzykowski (1964), Kościelskis (1966), The News (1981), the Italian Premio Viareggio prize, the international Prix Gutenberg, and French Pen-Club. In 1998 he was awarded the Order of the White Eagle.
In September 2009 a monument to him was unveiled in Yertsevo, where he had been imprisoned.
- In English
- A World Apart: Imprisonment in a Soviet Labor Camp During World War II, Penguin Books, reprint edition, 1996, pp. 284, ISBN 0-14-025184-7.
- Volcano and Miracle: A Selection from the Journal Written at Night, Penguin Books, reprint edition, 1997, pp. 288, ISBN 0-14-023615-5.
- The Island; Three Tales, Penguin Books, reprint edition, 1994, pp. 160, ISBN 0-14-023279-6.
- The Noonday Cemetery and Other Stories, New Directions Publishing, 2003, pp. 256, ISBN 0-8112-1529-6.
- Zdzisław Kudelski, Gustaw Herling-Grudziński - wątek żydowski, Rzeczpospolita, July 5, 2003. (Polish)
- Premio Napoli alla memoria: Gustaw Herling, la letteratura come eterna trincea (Italian)
- Kelly Zinkowski (Fall 2000). "Gustaw Herling, The Art of Fiction No. 162". The Paris Review.
- Herling on Gardens of the Righteous Worldwide Committee - Gariwo
- (Italian) "A World Apart" by Herling read by Roberto Saviano (in Italian)
- Gustaw Herling on Gulaghistory