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Life and Death

Henryk Sienkiewicz

Book Overview: 

Henryk Sienkiewicz won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1905, but as he wrote in Polish many English-speakers are unfamiliar with his work. This short story collection is a sampler of five myths and legends which he collected. The "Life and Death" of the title is a Hindu legend, the rest of Polish stories. All are short and together form a little taste of this great author who is too often unknown to English readers.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . . not an unbroken rejoicing, but that with the life thread which Brahma had mentioned they wove out two webs as it were with two faces,—on one of these was a smile; there were tears in the eyes of the other.

They went then to the throne of Vishnu and made complaint to him:

“O Lord! life is grievous through sorrow.”

“Let Love give you happiness,” said Vishnu in answer.

[Pg 7]At these words they went away quieted, for Love indeed scattered their sorrows, which, in view of the happiness given, seemed so insignificant as to be undeserving of notice.

But Love is also the mighty mother of life, hence, though the region which Vishnu ruled was enormous, it was soon insufficient for the myriads of people; soon there was not fruit enough upon trees there, nor berries enough upon bushes, nor honey enough from cliff bees.

Thereupon all the men who were wisest fell to cutting down forests for the clear. . . Read More

Community Reviews

Some stories were better than others but overall okay

A beat-around book, the plush yet worn velour of the Thalys direct train from Paris back to Amsterdam, and the mid-bloom of the surrounding countrysid ...more

Some beautifully evocative short stories and parables from the Polish Nobel laureate.

the first story made me cry, the last one is beautiful. the stories inbetween i find only okay.

A decent short read.

Interestingly quick read. If you have a spare 30mins on Spotify, why not?

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