Bibliography

Jerzy Peterkiewicz Educational Foundation

Jerzy Peterkiewicz's extensive archive has been lodged in the Émigré Archive in the Library of the University of Torun.

The full catalogue of works written by Jerzy Peterkiewicz, and works written about him and his writings, can be accessed via this LINK.

THE KNOTTED CORD   1953

“…an unusual work … episodic, and, in effect autobiographical narrative of a childhood in north-west Poland in the twenties.   The piety, the superstitions, the rigid customs, the tenacity and passions of the people, all are seen with the intense yet truthful eye of childhood”.                 The Observer

“… a work of considerable distinction.”                       New Statesman

“The Knotted Cord is a poet’s novel, the author of which is to be congratulated upon his treatment of the English language.”             Times Literary Supplement 

LOOT AND LOYALTY   1955

FUTURE TO LET  1958

“Future to Let is not only beautifully written but unexpectedly, pungently funny.  It is a triple fugue in which irony, lyricism and farcical comedy interweave – rather as though Chekhov had written a scenario for Mr. Chaplin”   The Observer

“Future to Let is Mr. Peterkiewicz’s third novel in English, of which he has a complete and unusual mastery.  A distinguished Polish poet, he brings to his adopted language a poetic precision…His new book is not only beautifully written but unexpectedly, pungently funny…Mr. Peterkiewicz preserves an exquisitely poised  balance:  a sort of Catholic scepticism gives the book its tone.”   John Davenport, Observer

“The breath of life blows through this most enjoyable book.”   The National Book Review

“A most subtly tender Anglo-Polish love story;  a cool yet passionate indictment of the Communist regime, argued from the brain as well as the heart;  and a weirdly revealing portrait of London and Londoners, from the outside looking in.”   The Daily Telegraph

“He approaches the English language as a Grinling Gibbons might approach his seasoned block of wood:  with reverence and a sharp graver.  Every image, every phrase comes away new and clean.

“Dr. Peterkiewicz’s steady advance as an English novelist has been most impressive:  and in ways this book is a tremendous improvement on its predecessors.   It reveals in its author an unsuspected gift for tragic-comedy, with rich undertones of grotesque farce as well as cutting political irony.

“This novel is several things in one;  a most subtly tender Anglo-Polish love story, a cool yet passionate indictment of the Communist regime, argued from the brain as well as the heart;  and a weirdly revealing portrait of London and Londoners, from the outside looking in.  Dr. Peterkiewicz has always been a fine and original writer:  in Future to Let he shows signs of becoming a great one.”   Peter Green, Daily Telegraph

“Funny and extremely well written.”  The London Evening Standard

About the Author:  “Mr. Peterkiewicz writes in English, and since one is bound to make the comparison I will remark that he does so much more naturally and fluently than Conrad.”   The Tribune

“...extraordinary depth and poetic feeling.... His is a most original talent of real creative force.”   Current Literature

“The author, a poet, writes delicately, with a shrewd understanding of the English point of view.”   The Sunday Times

“Mr. Peterkiewicz  often writes with a touch of poetry and a wistful humour that stamps him as a writer of talent and originality.”  The Newcastle Sunday Sun

On the dust cover, a front page review in The London Times Literary Supplement says:   “In Mr. Jerzy Peterkiewicz we come upon a novelist who construct plots with the neat glee of a Moliere;  and he is almost as bitter.

“An Englishman, Lancelot Thawroe, returns from Spain to sell a house in Earls Court which has just been willed to him by a deceased uncle.   He finds a foreign woman in occupation and she promptly seduces him.   Her affair with Lancelot must be among the funniest, the most sensuous and the most sad accounts of sexual passion in recent fiction.

“Her father, a leader of the Polish Peasant Party, is brought to England by Communist agents, who have tried to condition his mind so that he will advise all Poles to return to a beneficent Communist Poland.  But the old man is too weak to have any mind.   All he can do is remember his name and a field of cabbages.  That does not deter his anti-Communist compatriots, who cavort endlessly in an attempt to make him Premier of a Government in exile.  And do on.

“The more mature delight of this kind of exercise is that some people will probably be able to read it without realizing that everything is just very slightly off key, and that the disharmony is the whole meaning.  Like Don Quixote, it is uproarious;  and, like Don Quixote, it is not funny at all.”

“…a novelist who constructs plots with the neat glee of a Molière… No Englishman could have done it because, though they are good at the short parody, the English are too impatient for the pay-off joke to refrain from giving the game away at some point or other…As for Celina…her affair with Lancelot must be among the funniest, the most sensuous and the most sad accounts of sexual passion in recent fiction:  and, finally, it is so because the sexuality is incidental to many other equally funny and even more sad situations.”   TLS 

“…it is funny and sad almost in the same breath…I was touched and moved by the love affair…I was touched and moved, and also made to laugh by the antics of the Polish émigrés in London.   On the whole I found this a delightful, fantastic novel.”   Alan Pryce-Jones, a BBC broadcast, “The Critics” 

ISOLATION  1959

ISOLATION is “…a very clever book”, a spiky “blend of wit, melancholy, pornography and religion”, “a genuine original” (wrote the New Statesman and Observer reviewers)

“Mr. Peterkiewicz writes in English, and since one is bound to make the comparison I will remark that he does so much more naturally and fluently than Conrad”.

“A freelance spy, part-English, part-Turkish by blood, married to a Jewish refugee and having an affair with a part-Indian South American Countess.  That’s just for a start.   Minor characters include a homosexual nudist carry Terry, and red-headed Lesbian who gives voice lessons, and a lady who chases her lover from Cannes to Venice, but takes her husband along for company.  The book is often funny and for much of the time (if one stops to think about it) outrageous.  It would be pornographic if it were not for the innocence of it, as if making love, and intrigue, and spying were all a game for intelligent children!”            SUNDAY TIMES

“If Nabokov had put himself through a course of Pascal the result might have been something like Isolation, but Mr. Peterkiewicz is nothing if not original.   Nobody else could have made such a blend of wit, melancholy, pornography and religion.”   Observer

THE QUICK AND THE DEAD  1961

“What Jerzy Peterkiewicz will come up with in fiction is anybody’s guess, and The Quick and the Dead is, in form at least, the most original of his novels and, to  my mind, the most successful yet.   It manages to be unfalteringly readable and amusing.  This is wit, without strain, gloriously relaxed, ironical high comedy with a streak of savagery.”                 Isabel Quigley

“Mr. Peterkiewcz is on of our most intelligent and original novelists.   There are some excellent things in The Quick and the Dead.  Whatever you’re going to call this uncategorisable book, it’s an altogether brilliant performance.”   Anthony Burgess,  Yorkshire Post

“It is a weird, gripping, uncanny book.   Mr. Peterkiewicz’s novel…is entirely original.   His manner is matter-of fact and convincing;  his world of the dead is neither wraithlike not allegorical, but completely concrete.  Indeed, it is observed and described with such perception that the reader never questions its reality. …..The Quick and the Dead is all the more disturbing and compelling for not being written in the language or concepts of conventional religion. …It is an obsessive and exciting work of the imagination.   He writes about death in detail, and he is sometimes alarming simply because his work carries such conviction.”    Elizabeth Jennings 

THAT ANGEL BURNING AT MY LEFT SIDE  1963

“Too shapely to be called picaresque, this graceful and searching account of a man’s hunt for an appropriate father is only incidentally a valuable guide to six nations.   The strange final pages invest the book with something like religious feeling.”   New Statesman

“Peterkiewicz writes like a poet who has been through the fire – immovably ironic and with all trace of sentiment burned out of him, surviving by the ability to make patterns out of nonsensical data.”   Irving Wardle,  Observer

INNER CIRCLE  1966 

GREEN FLOWS THE BILE  1969

“An interesting and highly original book where fiction rubs shoulders with anthropology, religious myth, psychology and prophecy.”   Edwin Morgan,  New Statesman 

The Press on [books before Isolation]

“…a brisk and firm narrative line which poets so often handle better than anyone else.”   Manchester Guardian

“Jerzy Peterkiewicz has a prose style that is fresh…often studded with strange similies and leavened with a grave and wistful humour…”   Irish Times

“…Like Conrad, Mr. Peterkiewicz is a Pole writing in English, and, although his prose lacks the majestic cadences of the older novelist, it is shot through with the gleams of a poetic imagination…”   Times

“…The author writes a fine poetic prose, with hints of allegory…”   Times Literary Supplement

“…extraordinary depth and poetic feeling…his is a most original talent of real creative force.”   Current Literature

“Mr. Peterkiewicz writes in English, and since one is bound to make the comparison I will remark that he does so much more naturally and fluently than Conrad.”    Tribune