Kazimierz Brandys; Polish Novelist, Essayist
Kazimierz Brandys, 83, an emigre Polish writer who once glorified socialist ideology but later disparaged Communism with stark portrayals of life behind the Iron Curtain. Born to a Jewish family in the industrial city of Lodz, Brandys studied law at Warsaw University in the 1930s, when he began publishing his first short stories. He joined Poland’s Communist Party after World War II, attracted like many intellectuals to its promise of a better life after the horrors of the Nazi occupation and the Holocaust. His 1946 book, “The Rebellious City,” a dramatic novel about Warsaw’s struggle under the Nazis, won him trust and popularity among Poland’s new leaders, and he became prominent in the ranks of the Communist-supported school of socialist realism. “The Citizens,” his 1954 work about the Polish intelligentsia embracing the new Communist system, remains among the best-known examples of the genre. Brandys’ outlook shifted in the disillusionment that followed Stalin’s death and subsequent denunciation in 1956 by his successor, Nikita Khrushchev. The author’s 1957 novel, “Mother of Kings,” a terrifying image of life under totalitarianism, depicted the dishonesty and dangers of Communism. Communist censors banned further printings of the novel until the 1980s. Brandys’ later fame in Poland stemmed from his compelling portrayals of everyday life in essays and diaries such as “Letters to Mrs. Z,” published from 1958 to 1962, and “Months,” published from 1978 to 1987. An English-language translation of early segments of “Months” appeared in the United States in 1983 as “A Warsaw Diary.” Brandys went into self-imposed exile in Paris after the martial-law crackdown against the Solidarity trade union movement in 1981. He died March 11 in a Paris hospital after a long illness, a friend and literary critic, Jacek Bochenski, confirmed Thursday.