Primeval and Other Times

Primeval and Other Times by Olga Tokarchuk

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Tokarczuk’s third novel, Primeval and Other Times was awarded the Koscielski Foundation Prize in 1997, which established the author as one of the leading voices in Polish letters. It is set in the mythical village of Primeval in the very heart of Poland, which is populated by eccentric, archetypal characters. The village, a microcosm of Europe, is guarded by four archangels, from whose perspective the novel chronicles the lives of Primeval’s inhabitants over the course of the feral 20th century. In prose that is forceful and direct, the narrative follows Poland’s tortured political history from 1914 to the contemporary era and the episodic brutality that is visited on ordinary village life. Yet Primeval and Other Times is a novel of universal dimension that does not dwell on the parochial. A stylized fable as well as epic allegory about the inexorable grind of time, the clash between modernity (the masculine) and nature (the feminine), it has been translated into most European languages.

Tokarczuk has said of the novel: “I always wanted to write a book such as this. One that creates and describes a world. It is the story of a world that, like all things living, is born, develops, and then dies.” Kitchens, bedrooms, childhood memories, dreams and insomnia, reminiscences, and amnesia – these are part of the existential and acoustic spaces from which the voices of Tokarczuk’s tale come, her “boxes in boxes.”

201 pages, published in
Olga Tokarchuk

A book by Olga Tokarchuk

Olga Tokarchuk (born in 1964) is primarily a writer, although she made her debut with a collection of poems. Her first novel, The Journey of the People of the Book (1993), aroused a keen interest in critics, and the following works confirmed her writing talent. Tokarczuk`s latest novel - "Day House, Night House" (1998) - introduces the reader to the world of the "small homeland", which only in a sense occupies a strictly defined place on the map. In fact, we are talking about "no man`s land", on which the experience of its next inhabitants is being layered - the former, forced to leave it in the course of historical events, and new ones, who see in the fate of their predecessors, turning to them themselves. Light and shadow are two elements that initially constitute the basic matter of this writing, in which the rational fights against the irrational, everyday life with myth, and the explicitness of experience with its secret meaning. Tokarczuk does not give final answers; the w...

Primeval and Other Times PDF

Olga Tokarchuk (born in 1964) is primarily a writer, although she made her debut with a collection of poems. Her first novel, The Journey of the People of the Book (1993), aroused a keen interest in critics, and the following works confirmed her writing talent. Tokarczuk`s latest novel - "Day House, Night House" (1998) - introduces the reader to the world of the "small homeland", which only in a sense occupies a strictly defined place on the map. In fact, we are talking about "no man`s land", on which the experience of its next inhabitants is being layered - the former, forced to leave it in the course of historical events, and new ones, who see in the fate of their predecessors, turning to them themselves. Light and shadow are two elements that initially constitute the basic matter of this writing, in which the rational fights against the irrational, everyday life with myth, and the explicitness of experience with its secret meaning. Tokarczuk does not give final answers; the world of the possible becomes for her an integral complement to reality. In the tension between the understandable and the incomprehensible, human life unfolds, which always presents a challenge, never fits into ready-made schemes and stereotypes and constantly requires new interpretations, including artistic ones.