cover image Lucifer Unemployed

Lucifer Unemployed

Aleksander Wat. Northwestern University Press, $14.95 (123pp) ISBN 978-0-8101-0840-0

These nine stories, originally published in Poland in 1927, will introduce American readers to the fresh, biting political and social fictive manipulations of Wat, who died in 1967. Marked by prose that is dense, even labyrinthine, as well as somewhat overblown in its archness, the collection serves as a crucible where the line between reality and fantasy is repeatedly obliterated. Wat fancies a Catholic Church whose priests and pope of Jewish descent persecute the anti-Semites/anti-Catholics; the latter group, headed by John Ford of the automobile dynasty, have converted to Judaism. Elsewhere, in the wake of WW I, a new island surfaces in the Indian Ocean and becomes a home for dethroned monarchs; these rulers of civilization degenerate into barbarians. A man searches for a street that never existed, and a member of a theater audience impulsively joins the play. An unemployed devil, who finds he is superfluous in the inferno of atheistic modern times, becomes a film artist: Charlie Chaplin. (Jan.)