Responsibility Is Sexy
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“Nymphéas 1915”, Claude Monet, Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris
Experiences

Responsibility Is Sexy

Freedom in the Novels of Edward St Aubyn
Agnieszka Drotkiewicz
Reading
time 10 minutes

It’s a November evening in Munich and the temperature hovers at a frigid zero degrees. I get off the metro at Königsplatz and walk upwind through a vast square filled with red silk poppies.

This installation, by the German artist Walter Kuhn, commemorates the centennial of the Armistice of Compiègne, which ended World War I. Because it’s so cold and windy, I have difficulty reading the map; there are hardly any passers-by I could ask for directions. It takes me a while to get to the Film School where a discussion featuring Edward St Aubyn and Edward Berger (who directed the recent Patrick Melrose television mini-series) is taking place. My bag is heavy with St Aubyn’s books: the Patrick Melrose novels in both English and Polish, as well as others, including A Clue to the Exit (a story about a terminally-ill screenwriter who, before he dies, decides to explore human consciousness and write a wonderful book, which he does on the Côte d’Azur and in the Moroccan desert); On the Edge (a novel about the search for the meaning of human existence set among a community of New Age spiritual seekers); Lost for Words (describing the behind-the-scenes workings of a literary award that seems to resemble the Booker Prize rather closely). I am also lugging St Aubyn’s latest work, Dunbar, and a novel from the Hogarth Shakespeare

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The Hunt
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Drawing by Marek Raczkowski
Fiction

The Hunt

Stanisław Lem’s Unknown Story
Stanisław Lem

Racing across mountains and remote backwoods, a solitary figure is on the run from a team of heavily armed hunters. Will he manage to get away? This translation by Antonia Lloyd-Jones was specially commissioned to coincide with the first publication in “Przekrój” Quarterly of this previously unknown story by the great master of science fiction.

He’d run about a mile by now, but wasn’t even hot yet. The pine trees were sparser here. Their tall trunks shot up vertically, at a sharp angle to the sloping hillside veiled in gloom, out of which he could hear, now softer, now louder, the rushing of a stream. Or maybe a river. He wasn’t familiar with this area. He didn’t know where he was running to. He was just running. For a while now he hadn’t seen any blackish traces of bonfires at the small clearings he’d passed, or scraps of coloured packaging, trodden into the grass, drenched by the rain and then dried by the sun over and over again. It looked as if no one ever came out here, because there weren’t any roads, and the vistas on view from the open spaces weren’t interesting. There was forest everywhere, with green splashes of beech trees, then a darker and darker colour towards the peaks; the only thing that showed white against it were the insides of snapped tree trunks. The wind had toppled them, or they’d fallen from old age. Whenever they blocked his path, he focused his eyesight keenly to see if it was worth the effort of jumping over, or if it might be better to push his way underneath, between the dry, broom-like branches.

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