Wednesday, October 22, 2008

lesson: never label anything 'botched crime story'

An unpublished work by Stanislaw Lem has been discovered, a "quasi-opera" Lem had been trying to find for decades.

Lem mentioned the missing piece in numerous interviews, including those given to Stanisław Bereś and Tomasz Fijałkowski. 'We've turned everything upside down here. I still hope it surfaces somewhere', Lem told Bereś.

Also the writer's secretary, Wojciech Zemek, for years searched for the piece. 'From time to time Mr Lem would ask me whether I'd already found it, and I'd reply regretfully that I hadn't', remembers Mr Zemek. 'And yet I held the folder containing it so many times in my hands!'

The folder, an old-style grey cardboard, ribbon-tied folder, was inscribed 'Botched crime story' and contained an unfinished Raymond Chandler-style crime novel that Lem started writing in the mid-1950s. It has now turned out he used that typescript to create a hiding place so perfect the text went missing for five decades - he simply slid the Stalin opera between the pages of the crime novel typescript.

'I always knew that every one of Lem's pieces has a second bottom - even a botched crime story can hide an opera about Stalin!', commented Mr Zemek.

Via 3qd