Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Roman Brandstaetter

Roman Brandstaetter (1906–1987), poet, playwright, prose writer, and translator. Roman Brandstaetter studied philosophy and Polish literature in Kraków, earning a doctorate for a thesis on Adam Mickiewicz in 1932. Two years of research in Paris (1929–1931) resulted in the publication of Legion żydowski Adama Mickiewicza (Adam Mickiewicz’s Jewish Legion; 1932). Initially, Brandstaetter actively participated in Polish literary life, publishing, among other things, literary guidelines for the generation of Polish poets entering the literary scene during the interwar period. In the early 1930s, however, he became more closely associated with Jewish national circles, joining the editorial board of Opinia, a Zionist weekly where he published his manifesto on Polish Jewish poetry.
In the early days of World War II, Brandstaetter fled Vilna, eventually making his way to Jerusalem. In 1946, he left Palestine for Rome, where he served as cultural attaché at the Polish embassy and was baptized. He returned to Poland in 1948. From the late 1950s he wrote extensively on religious subjects for the Polish Catholic press, including the newspaper Tygodnik powszechny, consolidating his reputation as one of Poland’s leading religious writers.
Brandstaetter’s biography reflects the dramatic experiences and radical ideological choices facing twentieth-century Jewish intelligentsia. His life was shaped by Zionism and, later, Catholicism, while his literary output synthesized Jewish, Polish, Christian, and Greek and Roman traditions.
His grandfather, the writer Mordekhai Brandstetter (1844–1928), often appears in Roman’s work offering insights into values underlying Jewish life.

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