Children Zofia Kapuscinski
|Name Ryszard Kapuscinski|
Movies Imperfect Journey
|Born March 4, 1932 (1932-03-04) Pinsk, Poland(now in Brest Voblast, Belarus)|
Occupation Historian and journalist
Died January 23, 2007, Warsaw, Poland
Books The Shadow of the Sun, The Emperor, Imperium, Travels with Herodotus, Shah of Shahs
Similar People Herodotus, Hanna Krall, Francesca Marciano, Katherine Scholes, Haile Gerima
Ryszard kapu ci ski where does journalism end and literature begin
Ryszard Kapuściński ([ˈrɨʂart kapuɕˈt͡ɕiɲski]; March 4, 1932 – January 23, 2007) was a Polish reporter, journalist, traveller, photographer, poet and writer whose dispatches in book form brought him a global reputation. Widely considered a serious candidate for the Nobel Prize in Literature during his lifetime, he is one of the Polish writers most frequently translated into foreign languages.
- Ryszard kapu ci ski where does journalism end and literature begin
- Ryszard kapus cin ski wyk ad wajda school and studio
- Literary works
- Posthumous and non reportage works
- Honours and awards
- Literary prizes and honours
- Works available in English
- Works currently unavailable in English
- Magazine contributions in English by issue
- Documentary films
In an obituary published in Der Spiegel, Kapuściński was described by German journalist Claus Christian Malzahn as "one of the most credible journalists the world has ever seen". Daniel Alarcón, a Peruvian-American novelist, cited Kapuściński as a formative influence together with Dostoyevsky. The American journalist and reportage-writer Richard Bernstein, saw value in the "penetrating intelligence" of Kapuściński's vision and in his "crystallised descriptive" style of writing. The British journalist Bill Deedes, who had witnessed the Rwandan Genocide first-hand, said of Kapuściński that what he "writes about Africa is authoritative as well as captivating. His account of how the Hutus and the Tutsis were drawn into that dark night of genocide in Rwanda is the most enlightening I have read anywhere" – even while, at the same time, proclaiming that it was Kapuściński who had "transformed journalism into literature in his writings about Africa". Professor Philip Melling of Swansea University has concurred with this opinion, citing Kapuściński as an authority on the Rwandan conflict.
He was celebrated by other practitioners of the genre. The acclaimed Italian reportage-writer Tiziano Terzani, Colombian writer Gabriel García Márquez, and Chilean writer Luis Sepúlveda having accorded him the title "Maestro".
Ryszard kapus cin ski wyk ad wajda school and studio
Ryszard Kapuściński was born in Pinsk (now in Belarus), Polesie Voivodeship, in the Kresy Wschodnie or eastern borderlands of the Second Polish Republic in 1932 as a son of Maria Bobka (b. 1910) and Józef Kapuściński (b. 1903), primary school teachers. Next year his sister Barbara was born. He was born into poverty: he would say later that he felt at home in Africa as "food was scarce there too and everyone was also barefoot." In September 1938 Ryszard started attending Primary School No 5 in Pinsk. Summer of 1939 he spent together with his mother and sister in village Pawłów near Rejowiec in Lublin Voivodeship. When the Second World War began in September 1939 they came back to Pinsk after the city was captured by the Red Army and Ryszard returned to school there. In 1940 Maria, afraid of deportation to the East, together with Ryszard and Barbara left Pinsk and moved to Sieraków, near Warsaw. There they met Józef. Later the family moved near Otwock. Ryszard continued education in primary school in Otwock (1944–45). He described his early life in the book Imperium.
In 1945 the family settled in Warsaw where Ryszard began education in Stanisław Staszic Gymnasium. He became an amateur boxer (bantamweight) and footlball player. In 1948, Kapuściński joined the official Communist youth organisation—the ZMP—and served lower rank posts. Kapuściński was the hero of the article published in the weekly periodical Odrodzenie reporting on a poetry conference organised at his school, in which the teenager's poems were compared with works of Mayakovsky and Wierzyński.
In June 1950 he graduated from Gymnasium and started working for the Sztandar Młodych (The Banner of Youth), a nationwide newspaper founded in 1950 as the organ of the ZMP. In October 1950 he began his studies at Warsaw University (Department of Polish Studies) and in 1951 he moved to the Department of History after he suspended working for Sztandar Młodych till 1955. He participated in the Youth Festival in East Berlin staged in August 1951 in East Germany. This was his first foreign trip. From 1952 and till his death Ryszard Kapuściński was married to doctor Alicja Mielczarek (b. 1933). Their daughter Zofia was born in 1953. During the period from 1953 to 1981—the year of the imposition of the martial law in Poland—Kapuściński was a member of the Polish United Workers' Party (the PZPR). His attitude to the PZPR changed early on, "the decisive moment having come in the year 1956" (presumably a reference to the events of Poznań June and the process of de-Stalinisation brought about by the Thaw of Gomułka, and the Hungarian Revolution of 1956).
In June 1955 he graduated from Warsaw University. After publishing, in September 1955, a critical article about the construction of Nowa Huta, a Cracow conurbation built on a site chosen as the "first socialist municipality in Poland", which brought to light the inhuman working and living conditions of the labourers involved in the venture—a story which occasioned consternation before eventually winning favour with the Communist authorities unsure at first how to react to a fault-finding depiction of their pet project by one of their own—Kapuściński was awarded the Golden Cross of Merit at the age of 23.
In August 1956 he reported from Kiev and in September he was sent to India, his first travel outside Europe. He returned via Afghanistan (where he was detained at the airport in Kabul) and Moscow. In August 1957 he went for half a year to China (via Tokyo and Hong Kong). He came back to Poland by the Trans-Siberian Railway. Beginning with that journey to India undertaken at the age of 24, he travelled across the developing world reporting on wars, coups and revolutions in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. He started learning English in India by reading, with the help of a dictionary, a copy of Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls. He wrote about his first travels to Asia in the book Travels with Herodotus.
In 1958 he left Sztandar Młodych and started working for the Polish Press Agency. Shortly afterwards he also joined the weekly Polityka (where he worked till 1962). The result of his work for the weekly was the book Busz po polsku (The Polish Bush) published in 1962, a collection of his articles from the "Polish wilderness" that he went into to relate "the perspectives of forgotten, invisible, marginal people and so to record a living history of those seldom deemed worthy to enter the annals of official history" (in the words of Diana Kuprel, the literary scholar and translator of Kapuściński's works). He was aggrieved at the indifference of the reading public towards the majority of his early books.
In the late 1950s he went for the first time to Africa (Ghana, Republic of Dahomey and Niger). After honing his skills on domestic stories he was later "'responsible' for fifty countries" for the Polish Press Agency in Africa. (Although a correspondent of an official state press agency, he never in his life asked a single question at any press conference that he attended). When he finally returned to Poland, he had lived through twenty-seven revolutions and coups, been jailed 40 times and survived four death sentences. In the English-speaking world, Kapuściński is best known for his reporting from Africa in the 1960s and 1970s, when he witnessed first-hand the end of the European colonial empires on that continent.
In 1961 he reported from the Republic of the Congo. He described his escape to Bujumbura and subsequent arrest in the book The Soccer War. In the years 1962–65 he lived initially in Dar es Salaam and later in Nairobi from where he travelled to other countries in Africa. He came back to Poland only for few weeks in 1965 but returned to Africa to live in Lagos and continue reporting. In April 1965 he travelled to Senegal and Mauritania which he later described in the book The Shadow of the Sun. At the end of 1966 he came back to Poland. In April 1967 he went to Central Asia and Caucasus. In November the same year he started working as a foreign correspondent in South America, based in Santiago. Later he moved to Mexico (1969–72). In 1969 he witnessed war in Honduras which he described in the book The Soccer War. In 1969 he edited and translated from the Spanish El diario del Che en Bolivia, the final literary bequest of Che Guevara. Kapuściński analyzed the situation in Guatemala after a German diplomat Karl von Spreti was kidnapped. He published his reportage in 1970 entitled Dlaczego zginął Karl von Spreti (Why Karl von Spreti Died). He returned to Poland in 1972 and later worked for magazines Kontynenty and Kultura. In September 1975 he went to Angola after which he published the book Another Day of Life. In 1975 and 1977 he went to Ethiopia. The Emperor was written after his travels there. In 1979 he visited his birthplace Pinsk for the first time since 1940. In 1979 he went to Iran to witness the Iranian Revolution. His book Shah of Shahs deals with this subject and the fall of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the last Shah of Iran.
In 1980 he witnessed the strikes that took place in Gdańsk, Poland. In 1988 two episodes of Arena were dedicated to him and his work. He travelled in European and Asian parts of the Soviet Union (1989–1992) and witnessed the Dissolution of the Soviet Union. After this experience he wrote Imperium. He was awarded German Academic Exchange Service scholarship in Berlin in 1994. In 1999 Kapuściński talked about his life in VPRO in a series of autobiographical interviews with prominent people from the worlds of science, culture and politics.
In a 2006 interview with Reuters, Kapuściński said that he wrote for "people everywhere still young enough to be curious about the world." He was fluent in English, Russian, Spanish, French and Portuguese. He was visiting professor in Bangalore (1970s), Bonn, Cape Town, Caracas (1979), Columbia University (1983), Harvard University, Irkutsk, London, Madrid, Mexico (1979), San Sebastian, Temple University (1988) and Vancouver.
Kapuściński died on January 23, 2007 of a heart attack suffered in a Warsaw hospital where he was being treated for unrelated ailments.
From the early 1960s onwards, Kapuściński published books of increasing literary craftsmanship characterized by sophisticated narrative technique, psychological portraits of characters, a wealth of stylization and metaphor and unusual imagery that serves as means of interpreting the perceived world. Kapuściński's best-known book, The Emperor, concerns itself with the decline of Haile Selassie's anachronistic régime in Ethiopia. The book’s story had a special meaning that was not lost on the people of Poland, especially as dissent against the PZPR was taking root. The Emperor was also the book that established Kapuściński’s reputation in the West. When it appeared in English translation in 1983 it received an immediate critical success.
Kapuściński was fascinated by the humanity he found in different worlds and people, as well as the books of these worlds and people: he approached foreign countries first through literature, spending months reading before each trip. He was skilled in listening to the diverse people he met, but he was also capable of "reading" the hidden sense of the scenes he encountered: the way the Europeans moved out of Angola, a discussion regarding alimony in the Tanganyikan parliament, the reconstruction of frescoes in the new Russia—he turned each of these vignettes into a metaphor of historical transformation.
This tendency to process private experiences into a greater social synthesis made Kapuściński an eminent thinker, and the volumes of the ongoing Lapidarium series are a record of the shaping of a reporter's observations into philosophical reflections on the world, its people and their suffering. He had great compassion for the poor, the victimised, and the debased.
Kapuściński himself called his work "literary reportage", and reportage d'auteur. In the English-speaking world, his genre is sometimes characterised as "magic journalism" (in counterpoint to magic realism), a term coined by Adam Hochschild in 1994. Kapuściński often introduced himself with the line "I am a poor reporter who unfortunately lacks the imagination of a writer".
Italian journalist Tiziano Terzani and Ryszard Kapuściński shared a similar vision of journalism. Jaime Abello Banfi, the friend and associate of Gabriel García Márquez, reports that García Márquez and Kapuściński, unbeknownst to each other, shared the opinion that the way to good journalism led through poetry (on account of the fact that it inculcates both the conciseness of expression and its aptness).
Kapuściński considered the ancient Greek historian Herodotus a great reporter and his master. He wrote a book Travels with Herodotus where he shows that The Histories of Herodotus are timeless and the masterpiece of reportage. He also considered Curzio Malaparte, Melchior Wańkowicz, Ksawery Pruszyński and Franciszek Gil (1917–1960) to have been his literary models and stylistic precursors. On some level, Pruszyński and Wańkowicz shared a very similar approach to facts with Kapuściński, believing that the general picture of the story can be glued from bits and pieces to reveal a truth as a wholly independent construct. Students of Kapuściński's work observed correspondences between his work and that of J. M. Coetzee in that both writers were supposedly beholden to the theory of "the responsibility of witness".
One reviewer saw in Kapuściński's mixing of subtle psychological reflection with vivid description an invitation to a comparison with Joseph Conrad; Binyavanga Wainaina and Aleksandar Hemon made the same comparison, if for other, less laudatory reasons. Kapuściński confirmed to Bill Deedes the fact that Conrad was one of his literary inspirations. Neal Ascherson likened him to Egon Erwin Kisch (1885–1948) considered the father of literary reportage. Kapuściński himself cites Kisch with approval as the "classic of reportage" who dealt a death blow to traditional forms of reporting by putting the person of the reporter at centre stage. Certainly, neither Kisch nor Kapuściński believed in what might be called "journalistic objectivity": whereas Kisch thought it necessary for a (Communist) reporter to "engage politically" with his subject, Kapuściński would put objectivity as a concept out of court altogether, stating explicitly, "There is no such thing as objectivity. Objectivity is the question of the conscience of the one who writes. And he himself should answer the question is this what he writes close to the truth or not".
Kapuściński's views on his craft were published in 2000 in the book in Italian Il cinico non è adatto a questo mestiere: conversazioni sul buon giornalismo (A Cynic wouldn't Suit This Profession: Conversations about Good Journalism), the book in Spanish from 2003 (distributed for free) Los cinco sentidos del periodista (estar, ver, oír, compartir, pensar) (The Journalist’s Five Senses: Witnessing, Seeing, Listening, Sharing and Thinking) and in his Polish book Autoportret reportera (A Reporter's Self Portrait) published the same year. In 1987 Marek Miller talked with Kapuściński on the art of reportage and his life. These conversations were published in Poland in 2012 in the book Pisanie (Writing) but broadcast in Canada on Kalejdoskop Polski TV as early as 1988. He was vocal denouncing manipulations and ignorace of big media.
Kapuściński debuted as a photographer in the year 2000 with the publication of the album entitled Z Afryki ("Out of Africa"), a photographic harvest of his journeys in that continent. "Every snapshot is a recollection, a remembrance," he writes in the introduction, "and nothing can sensitise us more to the fragility of time, to its impermanent and fleeting nature—than photography." A sequel, entitled Ze świata ("From the World", published in November 2008 with the introduction of John Updike), comprising a cross-section of Kapuściński's photographs from all parts of the world, contains some truly outstanding shots.
Posthumous and non-reportage works
In Ten Inny ("The Other"), a collection of lectures delivered in Vienna, Graz and Cracow, published shortly before his death, Kapuściński laments a state of affairs perpetuated by the myths which inculcate the notion of the Other as sub-human or non-human. He saw encountering the Other as the main challenge for the twenty-first century. The posthumously published Ho dato voce ai poveri: dialogo con i giovani ("I Gave a Voice to the Poor: Conversations with the Youth"; Trent, Il Margine, 2007; subsequently published in Poland as Dałem głos ubogim. Rozmowy z młodzieżą; Cracow, Znak, 2008) is a record of Kapuściński's interactions with the students of the University of Bolzano in Italy in October 2006; while Rwący nurt historii. Zapiski o XX i XXI wieku ("In the Whirlpools of History: Jottings on the 20th and the 21st Centuries"; Cracow, Znak, 2007) is a compilation of interviews and lectures, reflecting Kapuściński's training as a historian and dealing with contemporary issues and their historical and cross-cultural parallels (including such issues as globalisation, Islam, the birth of the Third World, and the dawn of the Pacific civilisation).
Kapuściński's pronouncements on current affairs were noteworthy: he thought that the causes of the 9/11 tragedy, for example, were too complex to lend themselves to an exhaustively thorough analysis at present, although he offered an extensive and sophisticated exposition of some of the key elements of the puzzle in the Clash of Civilisations. He was critical on the Clash of Civilisations theory which he saw as an American vision of the world. He told a BBC interviewer right after the attacks: "I greatly fear that we will waste this moment. That instead of meaningful dialogue, it will just be gates and metal detectors".
In an interview granted in 2002 to the then editor-in-chief of the monthly Letras Libres, Ricardo Cayuela Gally, Kapuściński opined that the war on terror, owing to the asymmetrical character of the combatants engaged in it, could only be won—and indeed easily, within a month—through a (re)introduction of "Stalinism", a method undesirable for the sole reason that it would leave the world under the permanent "hegemony" of the United States, a circumstance that would spell the end of "the free society".
In Poland, since 1986 Kapuściński was also known as a poet: he privately confided in his Swedish translator, Anders Bodegård, that he considered this to be his primary identity. In November 2007 the Canadian publishing house Biblioasis published Kapuściński's selected poems in English, I Wrote Stone, the first English translation of his poetry.
Although he was not the sole model for the role, Kapuściński was given a portrayal as the main character in Andrzej Wajda's 1978 film Without Anesthesia. Aleksandar Hemon, the Bosnian-American novelist (who had previously impugned Robert D. Kaplan's stereotyping of "the Balkan mind"), in a critique of Kapuściński's Africa writings published in The Village Voice, accused Kapuściński's readers of turning a blind eye to "the underlying proto-racist essentialism" that informs his vision of and his approach to the cultures of the continent: "[Kapuściński] fumes against the racism absurdly based on skin colour, and would probably be shocked if told that his obsessive listing of essential differences [between "the African mind" and "the European mind"] is essentially racist".
Honours and awards
Salman Rushdie wrote about him: "One Kapuściński is worth more than a thousand whimpering and fantasizing scribblers. His exceptional combination of journalism and art allows us to feel so close to what Kapuściński calls the inexpressible true image of war".
Frequently mentioned as a favorite to win the Nobel Prize in literature, he never did. Kapuściński's dying before he could be awarded the Prize was bemoaned in the Swedish press as late as October 2010. Since his death he has been offered many epitaphs in the press, such as, "The master of modern journalism", "Translator of the World" and "The Greatest Reporter in the World", "Herodotus of our times", "Third World chronicler".
Literary prizes and honours
Over the years, particularly since 1983 when The Emperor was named Book of the Year by The Sunday Times of London, Kapuściński was the recipient of many international literary prizes that brought recognition to his creative oeuvre: these included, for example, the biennial Hanseatic Goethe Prize awarded by the Hamburg-based foundation, the Alfred Toepfer Stiftung, which he received in 1999; or the Italian Elsa Morante Prize (Premio Elsa Morante, Sezione Culture D'Europa) in 2005, for his Travels with Herodotus (the new category of the Premio Elsa Morante, called "Cultures of Europe", in effect a separate prize awarded by the same jury, having apparently been created specially for him).
In 2001 Kapuściński received the literary Prix Tropiques of the French Development Agency for his book The Shadow of the Sun, published in France under the title Ébène: Aventures africaines, which had a year earlier been named the best book of the year by the French literary monthly, Lire; the book also won the Italian literary award, Feudo Di Maida Prize (in full, Premio Letterario Internazionale Feudo Di Maida), for the year 2000. That same year (2000) Kapuściński was honoured with the prestigious Premio Internazionale Viareggio-Versilia, as well as having received the Creola Prize (Premio Creola) in Bologna (awarded for travel books and facilitation of intercultural encounters), and the "Premio Letterario 'Della Resistenza'" of the Piedmontese city of Omegna (Premio Omegna).
In 2003 Kapuściński received the Premio Grinzane Cavour per la Lettura in Turin; shared the Prince of Asturias Award (in the category "Communications and Humanities") with the Peruvian theologian Gustavo Gutiérrez; and was awarded the Kreisky Prize (Bruno-Kreisky-Preis für das politische Buch) for the entirety of his work ("Sonderpreis für das publizistische Gesamtwerk"; the award ceremony having taken place in Vienna in May of the following year). As the doyen of literary reportage, he was the keynote speaker at the inaugural ceremony, held in Berlin in October 2003, for the Lettre Ulysses Awards for the Art of Reportage.
In 2005 the Italian edition of Kapuściński's poems (which appeared in print the previous year as Taccuino d'appunti in the translation of Silvano De Fanti) won the state-funded Naples Prize (Premio Napoli). To complete the round-up of Italian prizes, the next year Kapuściński was awarded a special category of the Ilaria Alpi Prize for the entirety of his career (Premio Ilaria Alpi alla carriera), one of the best-known of Italian journalistic awards, named for an Italian investigative reporter murdered in Somalia in 1994 (although the scope of the prize is limited to TV journalism, special categories of prizes for which he would not otherwise qualify—as also for example in the case of the Elsa Morante Prize—have been created for Kapuściński). Kapuściński received honorary doctorates from the University of Silesia (1997), the University of Wrocław (2001), the University of Sofia (2002), the University of Gdańsk (2004), Jagiellonian University (2004). In June 2005 Kapuściński was invested with an honorary doctorate by the private Ramon Llull University of Barcelona, Spain; and in May 2006, just eight months before his death, he received a similar degree from the University of Udine in Italy.
In 2010, the Council of the Capital City of Warsaw established the Ryszard Kapuściński Award for literary reportage as a form of distinction and promotion of the most worthwhile reportage books which touch on important contemporary issues, evoke reflection, and deepen our knowledge of the world of other cultures.
Works available in English
Works currently unavailable in English
Magazine contributions in English (by issue)
Kapuściński wrote a screenplay for a 1962 Polish documentary film 80-dni Lumumby (80 days of Lumumba) directed by Tadeusz Jaworski about Patrice Lumumba. Imperfect Journey is a 1994 Ethiopian documentary film directed by Haile Gerima. Gerima travelled to Ethiopia together with Kapuściński. The film explores the political and psychic recovery of the Ethiopian people after the repression of the military junta of Mengistu Haile Mariam.
Documentary films about Kapuściński include Jacek Talczewski's Ryszard Kapuściński (Polish, 1987, the idea of the film by Marek Miller), Filip Bajon's Poszukiwany Ryszard Kapuściński (Polish, 1998), Piotr Załuski's Druga Arka Noego (Polish, 2000), Pejzaże dzieciństwa. Ryszard Kapuściński (Polish, 2005), Gabrielle Pfeiffer's A Poet on the Front Line: The Reportage of Ryszard Kapuściński (English, 2004), Beata Hyży-Czołpińska's Ostatnia książka Ryszarda Kapuścińskiego (Polish, 2008) and Olga Prud’homme Farges' L’Afrique vue par Ryszard Kapuściński (French, 2014, also in German as Am Puls Afrikas).
Polish scholars Beata Nowacka and Zygmunt Ziątek wrote the first Kapuściński's artistic biography Ryszard Kapuściński. Biografia pisarza, published in Poland by Znak in 2008. The book was translated in 2010 to Spanish (Kapuscinski. Una biografía literaria) and in 2012 to Italian (Ryszard Kapuściński. Biografia di uno scrittore). Professor Silvano De Fanti from the University of Udine wrote Kapuściński's biography for the book Opere, published in Italian in 2009 by the Arnoldo Mondadori Editore in the Meridiani series which aims to collect in a single series all major writers of all times and from all countries. In 2010, a book was published in Poland: Kapuściński Non-Fiction, written by Artur Domosławski. Kapuściński's widow, Alicja Kapuścińska, sought an injunction against this publication, claiming defamation and invasion of privacy. Nowacka and Ziątek responded to Domosławski's accusations with a book Literatura non-fiction. Czytanie Kapuścińskiego po Domosławskim (Non‑fiction literature: Reading Kapuściński after Domosławski) which was published in Polish by the University of Silesia Press in 2013. They oppose the accusation of creating a myth, and his own legend, as well as confabulations and opportunism, showing a selected and tendentious usage of the author’s life knowledge, the lack of comprehension of a literary reportage, manipulation with texts and quotations, as well as numerous factual and technical mistakes made by Domosławski. In 2013 the publisher of Domosławski's book apologized to Alicja Kapuścińska and her daughter. In May 2015 amendments were ordered by a court in Warsaw which also ruled that Domosławski should apologise to Kapuściński's widow, however in August 2015 the same court has ruled that the author will not have to apologise to Kapuściński's daughter.
Our salvation is in striving to achieve what we know we'll never achieve
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The extent of one man's guilt may be defined by how much of it is experienced by the party he injured