Still Alive: An Autobiographical Essay
Still Alive recounts the perilous odyssey of a renowned man of letters through the endless political crises of Eastern Europe in the mid-twentieth ... Show synopsis Still Alive recounts the perilous odyssey of a renowned man of letters through the endless political crises of Eastern Europe in the mid-twentieth-century. Jan Kott - Polish essayist and theater critic, author of the landmark work Shakespeare Our Contemporary, winner of literary awards on two continents - tells of his association with the Surrealist circles in Paris before the Second World War, his adventures as a partisan in the Polish underground, his postwar involvement in the Polish Communist Party, his disillusionment with communism, and, finally, his emigration to America. His story reveals not only the dramatic turns of an individual life but also the fate of a whole generation of Eastern European intellectuals. At once witty, suspenseful, and profound, Kott's memoir begins with a boccie game played in 1939 with Trotsky's future murderer and ends with a deeply moving description of his fifth heart attack in 1991 that illuminates the book's main concern: how to make sense of one's own existence. Kott does not pose this as a philosophic problem, but as a natural response to the extreme situations he was forced to master and survive. This is the remarkable testimony of a man whose life brought him many opportunities to face the consequences of radical choice and in whom the consciousness of those essential encounters continues to resonate. Published in Polish in 1990 and acclaimed by critics throughout Europe, the book is now available in English for the first time. Kott has added much new material to this edition, including the final chapter.