(Literary Essentials: World Fiction)

Moonrise, Moonset—a journal-novel encapsulating a year created “from juicy life and unfettered fantasy,” to use the author’s words—records events witnessed by the author-narrator during 1981 in Poland, in the aftermath of the “bloodless revolution” effected in the summer of 1980 by Solidarity, the union that became a social movement. The first chapters find the narrator musing on the hard-won freedoms and the strange melancholy accompanying Solidarity’s attainments, as well as on the Party’s embittering humiliation and its isolation from the new movement. The book closes with the declaration of martial law in Poland in December of 1981, the suppression of Solidarity, and the narrator’s interrogation by the police. Tadeusz Konwicki’s wide-ranging narrative—bursting with the daily minutiae of the author’s life, his reflections on Polish-Russian and Polish-Western relations, recollections of fellow writers (living and deceased), adolescent memories, confessions of weakness for various notorious public figures, fictional passages and remarks directed at his cat Ivan, to mention only a few of his subjects—is enclosed within these two startling moments in Polish history: Solidarity’s ascent and its sudden and violent deposition.

Within Moonrise, Moonset’s stream of observations, opinions, reminiscences, incisive political commentary (“The West has the subconscious desire to be raped by Russia”), remarks to...

(The entire section is 437 words.)