[Maria Dąbrowska was] a major writer and a moral force in her nation under several vastly different political régimes.
Never an habituée of literary cafés, all through her life she remained a provincial in the same noble sense that Flaubert had been a provincial in France and Faulkner in the United States—an uninhibited artist contributing to universal values, not as a cosmopolitan, only as a supremely civilized voice coming from a backwater. That salt-of-the-earth quality of her work was never belied by the public attitudes of the frail looking woman; in an age of political promiscuity and moral indifference she grew into a monolithic figure respected by both friends and foes. (p. 3)
[Dąbrowska's] mind was pragmatic, liberal, objective. Doctrines did not mean much to her…. [Political] and economic theory, she maintained [in an article on Russian socialism], is good if it increases human well-being; well-being must never be limited to a party, or to one class of people. The social background in her artistic prose is therefore not massive; it is broken up into a multitude of patches, like that world of the French pointillistes, who never painted in long strokes of brush so as to obtain a smooth surface, and, instead saturated the picture with brilliantly colored dots. (pp. 3-4)
In fiction her approach to life remained realistic, although contemplative. In one of her public confessions, she admitted that she started writing at the age of twelve, when one day she decided to sit down on a little stool right in the middle of the living room and put on record the activities around her. She practically never parted with this stool in her adult life….
In 1935, in her...
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