In our series about the international H.P. Lovecraft communities we’ll present Poland next. We plan to discover every European country, soon we’ll turn our attention towards the Northern regions, but we won’t stop there. We embarked on a long journey, we’ve already put a lot of work behind us, but there is even more to come. However, we forget all the difficulties when we see the enthusiasm and the virtual arms people throw open when they hear we’re reaching out from Hungary.
In every interview we seek the answers to 12 questions and we always encourage the interviewee to add any important or interesting detail they can think of. After the general interviews, we will go into more details about the people and magazines we have introduced, however in the first round we aimed to collect and summarise the basic information from every country.
From Poland it was Mateusz Kopacz, a prominent member of the local community, who answered our questions. He is the admin of the website H. P. Lovecraft – Polski Serwis and also a devoted fan. Thanks to his dedication the translations of some of Lovecraft’s essays, letters and poems could be published, not to mention the biography written by S.T. Joshi, all translated by Mateusz himself. Poland has almost four times as many inhabitants as Hungary and the latest Lovecraft translations have sold more than 20 000 copies. Mateusz sees a growing interest in Lovecraft’s work.
Are there any active cultural associations following and upkeeping HPL’s literary heritage? If yes, what are these?
No, currently there are no cultural associations interested in upkeeping Lovecraft’s work in Poland, at least as far as I know. Of course there are some people (including myself) promoting his heritage, but we are not organized in an association.
Are there people specialised in HPL’s work who are also well-known in Lovecraftian circles? If yes, who are they?
I think there are at least two people worthy of note. I may seem a little self-important here, but the first is me. I am, for the most part, responsible for the most detailed site about H. P. Lovecraft in the Polish-speaking area of Internet. Moreover, my promotional work effected in publication of Polish translations of some of Lovecraft’s essays, letters and now his poetry, and also his biography by S. T. Joshi – all these I translated myself. The second person in question is Maciej Płaza, a translator and a successful writer who translated most of Lovecraft’s fiction, for the first time giving Polish readers rich, true and beatuiful rendition of the Lovecraft’s originals (the previous translations, although not always that bad, often were more or less defective). He even received an important award for this task. Of course there should be mentioned all the publishing houses involved in the enterprises: Vesper, SQN, Zysk i S-ka. If I forgot to mention somebody significant – please forgive.
Are HPLs fiction, poems and essays available in translation? If yes, have they been published in print? Are they available online? If not, which works are not translated?
As I mentioned above – most of the fiction is available in a very good translation by Maciej Płaza. The minor fiction of Lovecraft (including revisions) is scattered among numerous book publications, while few texts still unavailable in Poland are right now in the process of being prepared to be published. Maciej Płaza is also responsible for the very good Polish rendition of “Supernatural Horror in Literature”. All of Lovecraft’s weird and fantastic poetry is going to be published in autumn in a translation by yours truly, together with a dozen or more of other types of his poems (examples of these are: “Waste Paper”, “The Poem of Ulysses”, “Poemata Minora, Vol. II”, “To a Sophisticated Young Gentleman”, “The Bookstall” and several more). Previously there were very few metrical specimens translatated. Most notable essays (e.g. “In Defence of Dagon”, “Lord Dunsany and His Work”, “Notes on Writing Weird Fiction”, “Idealism and Materialism – A Reflection”, “Cats and Dogs”, “A Confession of Unfaith” and more) along with two dozens of his letters were published in Koszmary i fantazje (2013), a book issued by SQN and translated by myself. Several of the tales and poems are available on my site in divers translations. The detailed list of tales, poems and essays that have been published in Poland can be found on the following sites: stories and novels, poems, essays.
When did the first H.P. Lovecraft translation get published in your country? Was it published as a collection or just as separate short stories? Which was this collection or short story?
Lovecraft was mentioned for the first time in Poland in 1956 by Zygmunt Kałużyński, who wrote an essay about HPL in his book Listy zza trzech granic. The first translated story was The Shadow over Innsmouth and was printed at the turn of 1959 and 1960 in popular magazine called “Przekrój”. The same periodical published in 60s and 70s more Lovecraft tales, The Dunwich Horror and The Colour out of Space among others. On the page below you can find all the tales published in papers and anthologies in Poland:
The first full-fledged collection of stories was Zew Cthulhu in 1983 which consisted of several celebrated tales (“The Call of Cthulhu”, “The Colour out of Space”, “The Whisperer in Darkness” and few others). It is true there was an amateur, fan booklet in 1981 but I do not think it can be considered as a Lovecraft’s book debut in Poland. Full list of Polish book publications you can find here:
How is HPL’s reputation? Is it mostly positive or negative? Are there any haters or mostly just grumblers?
Most Polish readers approach Lovecraft with a mix of fascination, appreciation and respect. However, there are some who deem Lovecraft a little bit of a scribbler who overused adjectives. Their attitude, I think, in some part is a result of reading pre-Płaza translations where some of the translators overused adjectives more excessively than Lovecraft himself. In addition to these grumblers, there sometimes show up people declaring (in comment sections, for example) that Lovecraft was a racist and therefore should be rebuked. This, I think, is the result of the recent World Fantasy Award affair – several years ago such statements were very seldom. But Lovecraft’s opinion in general is rather positive in Poland.
If you needed to estimate the number of active fans (who comment, participate, go to events, write articles, follow the news and the actualities) what would you say: how many of them are out there?
I think there are two groups of fans which partly overlap – people who are mainly interested in Lovecraft literature and the ones stemming from popcultural approach to Lovecraft – mostly games community. Not long ago I decided my site will be devoted strictly to literary matters (there are no popcultural news anymore on my site), so it is difficult to estimate the whole number of fans, because part of the whole group no longer tracks my page. My Facebook site gathers more than 3,200 followers but most popular posts (news about most anticipated books) gather more views than the number of followers. Unfortunately I did not track traffic on the proper site. As for events – Lovecraft is a good magnet, usually gathers considerable audience. Last time on Warsaw Con (mainly comic and film convention) a Lovecraft panel attracted some 50-70 people – most of the room space was occupied. I cannot estimate full number of fans but the number of copies of recent translations of Lovecraft by Płaza reached 20,000 and is very telling. Moreover, since release of his renditions I observe gradual growth of interest in Lovecraft in Poland, especially by academics and mainstream mediums.
Is there a leading site dedicated to HPL’s life and work? (reviews, introductory articles, essays, biography, etc.) If yes, what is it?
www.hplovecraft.pl – the site I am currently the sole administrator.
Is there a leading news portal that follows and shares international news? (publications, events, reviews, etc.) If yes, what is it?
Also www.hplovecraft.pl – but the international news are limited to these about most interesting English publications: new editions of Lovecraft letters, some omnibuses, critical editions (as the recent Fungi from Yuggoth: An Annotated Edition) etc.
Is there a regularly published print magazine dedicated to the works of HPL and/or weird literature (articles, essays, short stories, poem translations, etc.) If yes, what is it?
No, there is not. However, some magazines (“Kruk”, “Coś na progu”, “OkoLica Strachu”) had one of their issues dedicated to Lovecraft.
Is there a regularly published print magazine that features the short stories / poems of contemporary writers, the followers of HPL? If yes, what is it?
Same as above.
Are there active writers, poets who write cosmic horror or weird fiction and are also published in print? If yes, who are they?
There are two distinguished writers who write artistic weird fiction – Wojciech Gunia and Damian Zdanowicz, although they do something like Ligotti or Kafka rather than Lovecraft. I do not remember any Polish writers who write specifically cosmic horror. There was an anthology of Lovecraftian tales, Przejście, published in 2005, but the texts were of rather poor quality. There was also an anthology Po drugiej stronie (2013), partly devoted to Lovecraft – this was better than Przejście.
Is there a regularly held event dedicated to HPL’s works? (symposium, conference, free university, etc.) If yes, what is it? If there isn’t are there any one-off events? (not regular, smaller meet-ups)?
Until recently there wasn’t any strictly Lovecraftian events. However, in March has been held “CthulCon” in Cracow, devoted mainly to games and the like but also to Lovecraftian literary matters. It is planned to be held annualy but we will see what future will bring. As for academical conferences – there is not strictly Lovecraftian conference, although almost every conference thematically connected to horror and fantasy genres has some lectures on Lovecraft and related themes. In addition to that, more and more general academic periodicals and mainstream papers print essays on Lovecraft.
Thank you for the answers.