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A WORLD APART

Gustaw Herling-Grudziński

  • Original Title: INNY SWIAT
  • Publication date: January 1951
  • Publisher: Arbor House
  • Country: PL
  • Factual/Memoirs

Information

  • Epoch: Historical
  • Time Period: 20th century, World War II
  • Location setting: Russia
  • Themes: PEOPLE facing life, PEOPLE facing the extraordinary, Survival, SOCIETY DYSFUNCTIONS, War and other conflicts, SOCIAL CHRONICLES, Social relations, Solidarity, Looking back on one's life, Death, Resilience, Facing failure, Manipulation, Injustice, Psychological dysfunction, Exile, Power, Totalitarian regime, Commitment, Tolerance, Intolerance

Pitch

A WORLD APART contains the author's recollections beginning from his time spent incarcerated in the former USSR Gulag labour camp in Yertsevo in Arkhangelsk Oblast, and a description of the journey he took to join the Polish divisions forming in Persia. 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.

Comments

Translation rights sold: Russia

In the Polish language, the book was first published in London in 1953, then in Poland by the underground press in 1980, and officially in 1988.

Gustaw Herling-Grudziński (1919 − 2000) was a Polish writer, journalist, essayist, World War II underground fighter, and political dissident abroad during the communist system in Poland. 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.
INNY SWIAT (A WORLD APART) is his most famous book.

Summary

In 1940, Gustav Herling fell into Soviet hands while attempting to join the Polish army in France, and was sent to Yercevo camp in northern Russia. Written years before Solzhenitsyn's exposes of Russian prison camps, A WORLD APART (1951) is Herling's memoir of two years in a 'house of the dead' - a witness to the horrors inflicted upon millions of people across the gulag system, slowly dying of hard labour and starvation in the Arctic cold.
He depicts the dehumanizing effects of the camp on his fellow inmates, yearning for liberty yet unable to imagine freedom. But he also describes small glimpses of beauty - even if just the sight of a star-filled sky at night - and the strong friendships that offer hope beyond the desperate reality of life in the gulag.

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  • Author’s biography

    Gustaw Herling-Grudziński (1919 − 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 INNY SWIAT (A World Apart), first published in 1951 in London. 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.