The Problem of Czelawa

Stefan Grabiński (1887-1936) was Polish author of horror stories. Inspired by Poe, peer to Lovecraft, was often called “Polish Poe” or “Polish Lovecraft”. In Poland mostly unknown, but lately he is slowly being discovered again. Also by me.

The problem of Czelawa is a short story of a wife, Wanda Czelawa, who during nights is bothered by a  dangerous man looking like her husband. Her husband at that time is sleeping like a deadman, close to her. She asks a young neurologist for a help fearing she’s hallucinating…

I have read both the short story and listened to audio version made by Polish Radio Theatre. Audio version is not an audiobook, it’s radio drama. It’s not following the text blindly, it adds some fragments or skips them. It’s also realised in modern Polish language, mostly not using the language from century ago. It starts with the Warsaw song known under many titles, one of them is “Apaszem Stasiek był…”

The song sets the mood of Warsaw suburban dark alleys well. The story doesn’t really set the place, it could happen anywhere but I like this stylisation. I’m from Warsaw, after all. The drama uses also music composed by Gyorgi Ligeti, which is really nice addition.

There is also an old (1985) Polish film based on the story titled Problemat profesora Czelawy (The Problem of Professor Czelawa), which I still haven’t seen. I know that from time to time it’s aired in the TV (I found on TVP Kultura and NC+).

The original story is interesting and I liked it, tho I read it fully only after listening to the drama and it wasn’t surprising. I recommend reading it or listening to it, if you know Polish. You can also read other stories (more scary) by Stefan Grabinski, translated into English or German. Like Demon ruchu published in English as Motion Demon book.

I read the story and listened to the drama for the R.I.P. IX challenge by Carl @ Stainless Steel Droppings. I tagged it as #DiverseReading2014 because usually I don’t read such stories or books.


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