Regular readers of Words without Borders
will remember Otto Bohater, the downbeat Warsaw detective, and his faithful partner, Watson the White Rat, who appeared in an extract from Essence
in 2007. Their further adventures are described in Romanticism
, a thrilling horror story in which the spirits of Poland’s greatest Romantic artists–the composer Frederic Chopin, the artist Jan Matejko and the poet Adam Mickiewicz–are brought back to life with dire consequences. As these bloodthirsty vampires hypnotize people with their art, words, and music and lure them to their doom, Otto the detective has to save the day, using the pointed stakes of signs banning just about everything to pierce their evil hearts. The only trouble is, Otto was a duffer at school and is no intellectual, so he doesn’t know that Chopin’s heart was buried in an urn in a central Warsaw church, and isn’t in his body . . . At this earlier stage in the story, the Minister of Culture appears on television to announce the resurrection of the three Romantics.
The Polish artist Krystof Gawronkiewicz was born in 1969. The draft version of Essence won the first European Comic Book Competition, hosted by the television company Arte and Glénat publishing, beating six hundred other drafts from all over Europe. Essence (Glénat, 2005; Mandragora, 2006) is the first volume of Les Extravagantes Enquêtes d'Otto et Watson. The second volume, Romantisme, was published in 2007.
Antonia Lloyd-Jones translates from Polish, and has twice won the Found in Translation Award. She has translated works by several of Poland’s leading contemporary novelists and reportage authors, as well as crime fiction, poetry, and children’s books. She is a mentor for the Emerging Translators’ Mentorship Programme, and cochair of the UK Translators Association.