Critical Context

(Literary Essentials: World Fiction)

Within the context of Konwicki’s own writing, Moonrise, Moonset is a return to the hybrid and congenial form introduced to readers in Kalendarz i klepsydra (1976; the calendar and the hourglass), which Konwicki describes in Moonrise, Moonset as “a diary, a pseudo-memoir, autobiographical apocrypha...a stretch of life in calendar time, the novel as a chunk of life.” Unlike the novel form, in which Konwicki is well-versed—Sennik wspoczesny (1963; A Dreambook for Our Time, 1969), Kompleks polski (1977; The Polish Complex, 1981), and Maa apokalipsa (1979; A Minor Apocalypse, 1983)—the journal-memoir-confession-diary-novel hybrid form of Moonrise, Moonset allows Konwicki to record life “on the wing,” without the exclusion of “the garbage of life,” usually refined out of existence in a work of art.

Within the context of Polish literature, Konwicki’s attempt to get at the truth of experience and his own essence by shuttling between the lofty and the trite is not new. It is preceded by the more selective masterpieces of this nongenre which includes Witold Gombrowicz’s Dziennik (1957, 1962, 1966, 3 volumes; diary) and Kazimierz Brandys’ Wiesiace (1981-1982; A Warsaw Diary, 1978-1981, 1983). Polish writers acknowledge that this form graciously accommodates the large doses of current events, political commentary, critical opinion, and effluvia that constitute a writer’s life. It allows the writer more freedom to alternate the everyday with the extraordinary. From the perspective of world literature, Konwicki’s voice has joined those of other Central Europeans such as Milan Kundera, Miosz, and Gombrowicz in creating universal value through exacting yet relaxed analyses of individual and collective complexes, historical defeat, and the miraculous resilience of the human spirit in its struggle to wrest itself free of all man-made forms.