“All the Beauties of the World” by Dominika Buczak: About Poles and Germans

Dominika Buczak (Photo: Albert Zawada)

“All the beauties of the world” is the story of two families, Poland and Germany, who lived under one roof in an area called the Returned Territories after World War II. Dominica Buczak looks at the world through the eyes of women, focusing on important, painful, and hidden things and issues that are often overlooked and such as violence, rape, and fear. It is impossible to read this novel without the Ukrainian context.

“No one mentioned aloud the favorite sport of brave soldiers. Most often in whispers, in the ears, in the corners. But in the villages, cities, and towns they passed, all the women, old men, girls, and young women were afraid of him. He terrified their husbands, fathers, and sons. He terrified Dorca, his sisters, and his mother. He terrified all his friends, both those who went to school and those who lived behind the fence. None of them could say out loud what they were afraid of. They tried to talk, but failed, writes Dominica Buczak in her new novel, All the Beauty of the World. Reading it is mixed with news from Ukraine, where the Russians not only kill and destroy everything in their path, but also rape. They rape “women, old men, girls and little girls.” The difference is that today they know how to speak out about what they are afraid of and what happened to them, because at least a lot has changed in Europe since the Second World War. Except, of course, the savagery of the Red Star Army.

“All the beauties of the world” cannot be read without the Ukrainian context. This was not the author’s hypothesis, but it often happens that zeitgeist changes the perception of works of art. Just as Chekhov’s “Three Sisters” in Luka Percewal’s play in Warsaw is no longer missed by Moscow, it is impossible for Kyiv to follow the fate of Dorka and his Stach from Podhale and Eva and Peter from Liechtenwald without thinking about modern events. .

The military tool of violence against women (including men, especially non-heteronormative men) is always and everywhere the same – rape. There is no space, no dominant culture and religion, no traditions, no time and no place. “Rape is the cheapest weapon. You don’t have to buy a gun, a rifle, a machete, you use your body to trauma a person who depends on you, “said Wiola Rębecka-Davie, author of The History of Rape: A Diary of a Shame.

Over the years, women were actually punished twice because they were first raped and then sentenced to silence. For two years, Svetlana Alekseevich was unable to publish the book “Nothing about a War Woman” in the USSR (Charne Publishing House) because she was accused of “distorting the heroic image of a Soviet woman.”

Dominika Buczak (Photo: Albert Zawada)

“All the beauties of the world” is the first novel by Dominica Buchak, which did not take place in Warsaw.

But let’s leave the Soviet Union and move to today’s Poland. There would not be enough space here to describe the problems that Dr. Joanna Ostrowska created when she began writing The Silent, the first book entirely devoted to sexual violence in Poland during World War II. Fortunately, no obstacles were terrible for him or many other authors, so we can read books like “All the Beauties of the World.”

Dominica Buchak’s third novel is also the first to bring history from Warsaw to Lower Silesia. The first two – “Plac Konstytucji” and “Girls from the Square” (capital letter) – form a very “Warsaw” dillogue, so they must be read in the correct sequence. The third book was to take place among local voters in Warsaw at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. However, the author put this idea aside after hearing from my father the story of his grandfather and great-grandfather Stanislaw and Paweł Posiaki, who decided to leave their hometown of Dabrova Gornicha immediately after the war. The Posiak family moved to Lichtenwald, near Glatz, to Porba, near Kodzko, to start a new life in the house where the Germans still lived. There is no denying that he was an excellent contributor to the novel.

Although Dominica Buchak remains faithful to historical facts, names and topography, she naturally activates her imagination by creating characters and planning their destiny. He sees women very clearly, sees the world through their eyes, and often pays attention to things and issues that are invisible. If you use the term Jolanta Brach-Czaina, it is an imagination that is extremely sensitive to anxiety. “Everyday life is based on our existence. And because we realize that the truth of existence is so important, we are amazed when we realize that it comes from small things. Everyday life, which is the existential background of the extraordinary events we are waiting for, can often decide everything in vain. It is small in size. High frequency. It’s invisible, “wrote Brach-Czaina.

Dominica Buczak writes about everyday life and great history

Many would call it women’s literature, but I doubt it will be an exact term. Not only because they were created to devalue literature written by women. Another name once appeared – menstrual literature. Then you can feel the hidden disgust, the division between good and bad blood. He is a good man and a bad woman. By the way, Julia Holewińska’s drama Katyń perfectly demonstrates this. Color Theory, directed by Wojciech Faruga at the Polish Theater in Bydgoszcz. “Can menstrual blood be shed for the homeland?” Is a woman’s blood shed for the country as important as a man’s blood shed for the homeland? ” Our Kazan lady asks and is still waiting for an answer. The protagonists of Dominica Buchak’s novel also seem to be waiting for this answer from the patriarchal world.

For me, “all the beauties of the world” fall on the kitchen table. By a strange coincidence, people who until recently did not imagine such a situation sit together – because you have to make tea, because you have to spread bread with jam, take a fresh cake out of the oven. because of this. You can put a basket with embroidery pots and old photos on the kitchen table, exchange a word with him, or at least try, even if you speak different languages. And it can happen that you can put aside the great history, politics and war, and not like each other, and even live together. The only problem is that the great history, politics, war do not want to leave us alone, they ignite nationalisms that are very difficult to extinguish, destroying all the beauties of this world.

Dominica Buchak’s book “All the beauties of the world” (Photo: press materials)

Dominika Buczak, “All the beauties of the world”, Wydawnictwo Literackie

Leave a Comment