Friday, October 19, 2012

R.I.P. Professor Małgorzata Kitowska-Łysiak


Professor Małgorzata Kitowska-Łysiak was a prominent expert in Bruno Schulz's heritage and a great friend of Drohobych

Photo credit: Jerzy Jacek Bojarski

Professor Małgorzata Kitowska-Łysiak from the Catholic University of Lublin, a historian of art, one of the most prominent researchers of Bruno Schulz's heritage and a great friend of Schulz's Special Province passed away on the 17th of October, 2012. This is a great loss for Schulzology in Poland and worldwide.
Just a couple of days ago we have exchanged several emails discussing the latest (5th) Schulz Festival which took place in Drohobych this September. Unable to travel to Drohobych in person because of the condition of her health, Professor Kitowska was keeping track of the SchulzFest from her Lublin home and office, thanks to the TV and online coverage of the Festival.
Back in 2000, she compiled and edited Bruno Schulz's Critical Sketches (Szkice Krytyczne) which were published by Lublin's UMCS Publishing House — and this year she was happy to see the first-ever Ukrainian translation of Sketches published by Dukh i Litera in Kyiv and unveiled during the 5th SchulzFest. The Ukrainian translation of Critical Sketches was my academic project within the framework of this year's Gaude Polonia scholarship awarded by Minister of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland, and Professor Małgorzata Kitowska-Łysiak was my tutor who supplied me with valuable expertise and advice — and generally supported me in any way she could. She also wrote a Foreword to the Ukrainian Edition of the Sketches which I also rendered into the Ukrainian language — and which became a splendid introduction for this collection of Schulz's theoretical, philosophical, and literary critical texts scarcely known by Ukrainian readers, both academic and lay. Hardly was it possible to find a better Polish Schulzologist for this assignment. Well, and for many other assignments, too. Małgorzata Kitowska-Łysiak wrote a lot about Schulz and about the contexts of art, literature, and culture of his era. She was passionate and very precise in all of her academic writings. She was a rare breed of researcher, always searching for new arguments, circumstances, and inputs related to Bruno Schulz's heritage. She authored valuable texts focusing upon Schulz's fine arts works and a book entitled Schulzian Marginalia (Schulzowskie marginalia, KUL Publishing House, Lublin 2007).  
Photo credit: Jerzy Jacek Bojarski

She was an easy and pleasant interlocutor, whatever the topic might have been (not necessarily Schulz). And she always was a person with whom you would want to have a conversation. She was able and willing to listen, understand, and consult. She was energetic in her reaction to any matter pertaining to Bruno Schulz and got immediately engaged in any Schulzian undertaking aimed at preserving and/or renaissance of the memory of Schulz in his native Drohobych. From the very beginning, she supported each and every idea suggested by me and my late husband, Igor Meniok: the creation of the Centre for Polish Studies in the University of Drohobych, the opening of the intro version of Bruno Schulz's Museum hosted by Schulz's former professorial office in the former building of King Władysław Jagiełło Grammar School, and the initiation of the International Bruno Schulz Festival in Drohobych. She has always been a brilliant consultant for any Schulz-related project and event taking place in Drohobych. She was always ready to help in any way.
Just some time ago, she wrote about Drohobych's recently deceased Zenon Filipov whom she knew very well and whom she valued as a photographer and a collector of old postcards and other material memorabilia of the city's past and who managed to publish a superb book about the history of Drohobych's photo art.
She congratulated Alfred Schreyer, an outstanding musician and singer, the last antebellum Jew of Drohobych, and the last student of Schulz still living in Drohobych who celebrated his 90th birthday in May this year.
A year ago she painfully took the tragic news about the sudden death of Professor Valeriy Skotnyi, Rector of the University of Drohobych who supported every idea promoting Schulz in his native city, including the International Bruno Schulz Festival taking place every two years in Drohobych.
She was closest to the ingenious Schulzian initiatives of the late Professor Władysław Panas whom she valued and loved as a prominent and unconventional Schulzologist. In 2002, she teamed up with him to organise the largest Polish academic conference dedicated to Schulz and co-edited the book, Amid the Splinters of a Broken Mirror. On the 110th Anniversary of Bruno Schulz's birth and the 60th Anniversary of his Death (W ułamkach źwierczadła. W 110. rocznicę urodzin i 60. rocznicę śmierci Brunona Schulza, TN KUL, Lublin 2003).
Several years ago, she helped me survive through the experience following the sudden death of my husband, Igor, supporting me in my efforts to continue and develop his ideas. She wrote letters in which she was always open and good-willing, as a true friend.
Professor Małgorzata Kitowska-Łysiak has always been tolerant to people surrounding her; she had a gentle attitude towards the world; and she was always very demanding of herself. I perceived her as a person with a warm light in her heart which was shining for everyone who has co-operated with her at any time, for anyone who talked to her, for anyone who was a friend. It is hard to believe that she has departed from us and that we now have to bid farewell to her. She, however, bequeathed the shining of her heart to us.

I thank You, Dear Małgosia, for Your friendship and Your good and wise words which will remain with me for ever
Wiera Meniok

Drohobych, on the 17th of October, 2012 AD                              

Translated by Ostap Dzondza