How Did We Discover Stanisław Lem’s Unpublished Short Story?
The Origins of “The Hunt”
How did we find a previously unpublished short story of Stanisław Lem, one of the most celebrated Polish writers of all time?
Stanisław Lem passed away in 2006. How come his short story The Hunt remained unknown for so many years? Most likely, it was because of the title, which is identical to that of one of the stories included in the collection Tales of Pirx the Pilot, published in Poland in 1968. Wojciech Zemek, the writer’s personal assistant, saw the familiar-looking manuscript, put it away in a folder and forgot all about it. Only recently did Zemek decide to reread the text, thereby discovering a whole different story to the one he already knew.
The short story was written earlier than the Pirx series, most likely in the late 1950s. Lem chose not to burn it along with any other manuscripts he wanted to get rid of. Why then did he not wish to publish this one? Perhaps Lem thought the manuscript was too personal, or wanted to add some changes to the story. One way or another, The Hunt is the only finished and edited text that Lem never chose to publish.
Half a century had passed before The Hunt saw daylight again. At “Przekrój”, we were delighted to publish a piece of such value. Having first copied the text from the yellowed manuscript page, we edited it with great care. After proofreading, we decided to remove the parts that the author had crossed out by hand, and to modernize outdated forms of certain words. All changes and edits were made after consulting Professor Stanisław Bereś, a brilliant literary scholar specializing in Stanisław Lem’s writing, who also wrote a preface to the story.
The Hunt was first published in Polish in December 2018, in the winter issue of “Przekrój” Quarterly Magazine. Now, you can also discover this gem in an English translation by Antonia Lloyd-Jones. Enjoy!
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