A very nice post today on Patrick Kurp's excellent Anecdotal Evidence blog on Polish poet, brother of A. Broniszowna, and co-founder of Polish Futurism, Aleksander Wat (whose My Century is out with the NYRB):

One relies on certain books the way some believers look to the Bible -- not as divinely inspired, intended for literal understanding, but as sources of dependable wisdom. At the kitschy end of the wisdom spectrum we find the self-help genre, books designed as mood-elevating delivery systems, books that assure us we are O.K. despite conclusive evidence to the contrary. Publishers and booksellers label this stuff “inspirational,” but serious readers have always assembled their own eccentric libraries of true wisdom, whether sacred or secular.

For more about Wat's (1900-1967) life, I understand that Tomas Venclova's Aleksander Wat: Life and Art of an Iconoclast (Yale) is the classic biography (nice review by Dennis J. Dunn).

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