Translation of Maria Dąbrowska’s Nights and Days, Part I: Bogumił and Barbara
Bill Johnston’s project is a translation of Part I of Polish writer Maria Dąbrowska’s (1889 – 1965) four-part novel cycle, Nights and Days (1932 – 1934). Nights and Days is considered the greatest novel of Polish literature, but it has never been translated into English. While the cycle might be described as an intimate epic, Dąbrowska’s heroes are not grand historical figures, but a somewhat mismatched married couple—Bogumił and Barbara Niechcic—who manage an absentee landowner’s estate in the Polish provinces of the late nineteenth century. With loving attention to detail, Dąbrowska focuses especially on the fascinating, conflicted figure of Barbara, who is better educated than her husband, more ambitious, less satisfied with her lot, yet deeply attached to her family and her home. Throughout the novel, Dąbrowska immerses us fully in the Niechcices’s daily lives, and makes us care profoundly about their success and failures, their conflicts and their cares.
Bill Johnston is a literary translator and Professor of Comparative Literature at IU Bloomington. His awards include the National Translation
Award in Poetry, for Adam Mickiewicz’s Romantic-era epic verse narrative Pan Tadeusz (Archipelago Books, 2019), for which he also received
a Guggenheim Fellowship; the Found in Translation Award for Tomasz
Różycki’s contemporary mock epic poem Twelve Stations (Zephyr
Press, 2016); and, for Wiesław Myśliwski’s 1984 novel Stone Upon Stone
(Archipelago Press, 2011), the Best Translated Book Award and the PEN
Translation Prize (2012).