Adam Wiedemann / The Moon and his critic



The Sun, basking in its own light, gazed down at the Moon with a self-satisfied grin.

The Moon couldn’t face it. Being stared at always made him feel queasy.     The Sun always appeared rather icy in attitude, or perhaps it only felt that way at the vast distance which separated them. Then again, it might have been a question of the difference in their potential. The Moon’s literary output was far less substantial, and far less warmly received by critics, who fawned over every new Sun publication while turning up their collective noses at the Moon’s dark musings.

The Sun did make some attempts at maintaining cordial relations with the Moon, but these went nowhere. The Moon fumed in isolation, becoming ever more bitter.

Ireneusz Kurbiel, a renowned literary critic, was perhaps the only friend the Moon had. Kurbiel had devoted his life to the promotion of his works, and though other critics grew to ignore the Moon Kurbiel remained true to his first love. He was thrilled with the complex narrative structures, individual tales seen from pessimistic perspectives suspended in a cosmic void, blending sparkling commentary with changing perspectives of consciousness.

It should be noted that the Moon’s works could never be considered easy to digest, but their intellectual dryness somehow suited Kurbiel’s palate. The Moon’s books tended to languish in unsold piles, while the Sun’s populist products flew off shop shelves in their millions. Kurbiel himself had to take some credit for this imbalance, his convoluted deconstructions only helping to cloud the already murky stories the Moon produced.

The Sun’s outpourings were by comparison based on simpler mechanisms. Readers found them full of the joys of life, brimming with illusory visions of existence without care. His narratives brimmed with wild adventure, the heroes, defined by generic character flaws and superficial beliefs, presented as models to young people. Everyone marvelled at their sensual, spontaneous style, always seeming to defy convention, yet always surrendering to it in the end.

For the inexperienced reader the works of the Sun appeared to be more inventive than those of the Moon, who reached real depths using very few, yet very carefully selected strokes. The literary asceticism the Moon displayed did not in any way mean that his output was any less artistic. He achieved greatness by default, without having to resort to Sun-like pyrotechnics.

The Sun spoilt by the critics. The Moon steeped in misery. This is how literature in those days was divided. The latter’s slim volumes started appearing at ever less frequent intervals. Cultural circles began whispering about the irreversible decline of teh Moon’s creativity, while Ireneusz Kurbiel was forced to confront the possibility of both professional and personal disaster.

Meanwhile, a small publishing house by the name of Cosmos, specialising in limited print run editions of the Moon’s titles, received an unexpected and rather hefty new manuscript. The editor couldn’t contain his joy. The Moon had written a proper novel, one whose narrative was unputdownable. Sensing a best-seller, the editor decided not to share it with Kurbiel until it was actually in the shops, so as not to jinx the new arrival.

A major advertising campaign for the book caught the distinguished critic unawares. Kurbiel, having worked closely with Cosmos for some years, at first felt offended. Being excluded from the editing and publishing processes felt like an insult aimed at him in full view of the literary establishment. Yet, at the same time, there was a ray of hope that this would signal the return of the Moon’s previous creative mastery.

Alas, the book sold in vast quantities. Literary publications and the populist press, usually on the Sun’s side, sang its praises. Kurbiel, however, remained silent.

The literary world poised itself for the publication of his monthly review column in the obscure journal Night. The piece finally appeared, consisting of just two sentences:

The latest work from the Moon, aptly titled “The Sun”, is, apart from all its superficial brilliance, the darkest piece of writing I have ever read. The Moon has come to believe he is the Sun.

Having written these words, the critic threw himself from his own balcony, his death instantaneous.

The Sun could smile once again. The Moon turned its dark side towards it and vanished.




© translated by Marek Kazmierski




Taken from the collection “Odpowiadania”, published by Rita Baum 2012


Adam Wiedemann, (born 1967 Krotoszyn), Polish poet, novelist, translator, literary and music critic; winner of the Kościelski Poetry Prize 1999, nominated three times for the NIKE, Poland’s top literary prize, also winner of the Gdynia Prize for Literature in 2008 for the volume “pensum”. His work has been published in Tygodnik Powszechny, Oder, Kresy, Nowy Wiek, Czas Kultury, Pro Arte, Kursywa, Ha! Art, Rita Baum and Dziennik Portowy. He has been a regular columnist in the Res Publica Nowa and Przekroj.

Adam Wiedemann, (ur. 24 grudnia 1967 w Krotoszynie), polski poeta, prozaik, tłumacz, krytyk literacki i muzyczny; laureat Nagrody Kościelskich 1999, trzykrotnie nominowany do nagrody Nike. Laureat Nagrody Literackiej Gdynia 2008 za tom Pensum. Publikował w Tygodniku Powszechnym, Odrze, Kresach, Nowym Wieku, Czasie Kultury, Pro Arte, Kursywie, Ha!arcie, Ricie Baum, Dzienniku Portowym. Był stałym felietonistą w Res Publice Nowej i Przekroju.