Andrzej Sapkowski

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Andrzej Sapkowski
Sapkowski at Lucca Comics & Games 2015
Sapkowski at Lucca Comics & Games 2015
Born (1948-06-21) 21 June 1948 (age 74)
Łódź, Polish People's Republic
OccupationNovelist, economist
Alma materUniversity of Łódź
Period1986–present
GenreFantasy, history
Notable worksThe Witcher
Hussite Trilogy
Notable awardsJanusz A. Zajdel Award
Paszport Polityki
Medal for Merit to Culture - Gloria Artis
World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement
David Gemmell Legend Award
Ignotus Award
European Science Fiction Society Award
Signature
Sapkowski A signature.svg

Andrzej Sapkowski (Polish pronunciation: [ˈandʐɛj sapˈkɔfskʲi]; born 21 June 1948) is a Polish fantasy writer, essayist, translator and a trained economist. He is best known for his six-volume series of books The Witcher, which revolves around the eponymous "witcher," a monster-hunter, Geralt of Rivia. It began with the publication of Blood of Elves (1994) and was completed with the publication of standalone prequel novel Season of Storms (2013). The saga has been popularised through television, cinema, stage, comic books, computer games and translated into 37 languages making him the second most-translated Polish science fiction and fantasy writer after Stanisław Lem.[1]

He was born in Łódź and initially pursued a career as an economist after graduating from the University of Łódź. He turned to writing, first as a translator and later as an author of fantasy books, following the success of his first short story The Witcher published in 1986 in the Fantastyka magazine.

Described as the "Polish Tolkien",[2] he wrote 10 novels and 8 short story collections, which sold over 30 million copies worldwide.[3][4][5] The influence of Slavic mythology is seen as a characteristic feature of many of his works.[6] He is a five-time recipient of the Zajdel Award, Poland's most popular science fiction and fantasy prize, as well as many other awards and honours including David Gemmell Award, World Fantasy Life Achievement Award and the Medal for Merit to Culture – Gloria Artis.

Biography[edit]

Sapkowski novels on display occupying two shelves at an Empik bookstore in Katowice, Poland

Early life[edit]

He was born on 21 June 1948 in Łódź. His father served in the Polish People's Army and participated in the Battle of Berlin.[7] After the end of World War II, his parents lived near Nowa Sól before settling in Łódź in Central Poland.[8] He attended the Bolesław Prus High School No. 21.[9] He also studied economics at the University of Łódź, and before turning to writing, he had worked as a senior sales representative for a foreign trade company. He started his literary career as a translator, in particular, of science fiction. Among the first works translated by him was The Words of Guru by Cyril M. Kornbluth.[10]

Major works[edit]

He says he wrote his first short story, The Witcher ("Wiedźmin", also translated "The Hexer" or "Spellmaker"), on a whim, in order to enter a contest by Polish science fiction and fantasy magazine Fantastyka. In an interview, he said that being a businessman at the time and thus familiar with marketing, he knew how to sell, and indeed, he won third prize.[11] The story was published in Fantastyka in 1986 and was enormously successful both with readers and critics. Sapkowski has created a cycle of tales based on the world of "The Witcher", comprising three collections of short stories and six novels. This cycle and his other works have made him one of the best-known fantasy authors in Poland in the 1990s.[12]

The main character of "The Witcher" is Geralt of Rivia, a monster hunter trained for this since childhood. Geralt exists in a morally ambiguous universe, yet manages to maintain his own coherent code of ethics. At the same time cynical and noble, Geralt has been compared to Raymond Chandler's signature character Philip Marlowe.[12] The world in which these adventures take place is heavily influenced by Slavic mythology.[13]

In her review of Blood of Elves, Alice Wybrew of Total Sci-Fi writes that "Moving effortlessly between moments of wrought emotion and staggeringly effective action, to lengthy periods of political discussion and war stratagems, Sapkowski addresses every aspect of a good fantasy novel eloquently and with ease. His style reads as easily as David Gemmel, but hits harder and deeper than his late fantasy comrade. Creating a world that is both familiar and comfortable, it is through his inventive use of character manipulation that he generates a new and realistic experience".[14]

In 2001, he published the Manuscript Discovered in a Dragon's Cave, an original and personal guide to fantasy literature. It was written in the form of an encyclopaedia and the author discusses in it the history of the literary genre, well-known fantasy heroes, descriptions of magic terminology as well as major works of notable writers including J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, Robert E. Howard's Conan, C.S. Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia, Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea, Roger Zelazny's The Chronicles of Amber, J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter or George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire.[15]

Sapkowski's next book series was The Hussite Trilogy set in the 15th century at the time of the Hussite Wars with Reinmar of Bielawa as the main protagonist. Mariusz Czubaj writes:[16]

Sapkowski's trilogy is a form of polemics with the Polish tradition of the historical novel, with let's say Kraszewski and Sienkiewicz, who wrote about cruel times while depriving them of that dose of atrocities and a most basic human dimension. Yet the author of The Witcher does not hide that his characters are not exactly subtle, but who nonetheless bask with delight in what the literature theoretician Mikhail Bakhtin once called "the material bodily lower stratum".

Although The Hussite Trilogy proved less popular compared to The Witcher, it has been described as the author's "magnum opus". Published between 2002 and 2006, the series was released as an audiobook in 2019.[17]

Legal dispute with CD Projekt[edit]

In October 2018, he filed a lawsuit against CD Projekt demanding 60 million zloty ($16.1 million) in royalty payments from the company for using the Witcher universe in their computer games.[18] The lawsuit was launched despite the fact that Sapkowski had sold the video game rights to the Witcher for a single sum, rather than through a royalties contract. Sapkowski and his lawyers based their lawsuit on Article 44 of the Copyright and Related Rights Act.[18]

CD Projekt released a statement claiming that the author's demands are groundless and that the company had legitimately and legally acquired copyright to Sapkowski's works. His decision was criticized by many commentators and gaming journalists including Dmitry Glukhovsky, the author of Metro 2033, who described him as "an old fool" and noted that without the gaming franchise, the Witcher series "would never get this crazy international readership" and would have remained popular only in Central and Eastern Europe.[19][20]

On 20 December 2019, the writer and the company resolved the lawsuit with an amicable settlement. The company stated this deal was made in an effort "to maintain good relations with authors of works which have inspired CD Projekt Red’s own creations." The details of this arrangement weren't made public.[21]

Personal life[edit]

Andrzej Sapkowski at the 2010 World Book Fair in Prague, Czech Republic

Sapkowski resides in his hometown of Łódź in central Poland. He is an atheist.[22] He had a son named Krzysztof (1972–2019), who was an avid reader of the Polish Fantastyka magazine, and for whom he wrote the first Witcher story, who has since deceased.[23][24]

Sapkowski is a member of the Polish Writers' Association.[25] In an interview, he mentioned that his favorite writers included Ernest Hemingway, Mikhail Bulgakov, Raymond Chandler and Umberto Eco.[26]

In 2005, Stanisław Bereś conducted a lengthy interview with Sapkowski that was eventually published in a book form as Historia i fantastyka[27]

Translations and adaptations of Sapkowski's works[edit]

Sapkowski's books have been translated into Bulgarian, Chinese, Croatian, Czech, Dutch, English, Estonian, Finnish, French, Georgian, German, Hungarian, Italian, Korean, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Slovak, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish and Ukrainian. An English translation of The Last Wish short story collection was published by Gollancz in 2007.[28] From 2008, the Witcher saga is published by Gollancz.[29] The English translation of Sapkowski's novel Blood of Elves won the David Gemmell Legend Award in 2009.[30][31]

In the years 1993–1995, a six-issue comic book series entitled The Witcher was released in the Komiks magazine by Prószyński i S-ka publishing house. The comic was written by Maciej Parowski and illustrated by Bogusław Polch. The comics were the first attempt to portray the Witcher universe outside the novels.[32] Since 2014, a comic book series The Witcher has been published by the American publisher Dark Horse Comics. The stories presented in the series are mostly originals, written not by Andrzej Sapkowski but by other writers; the exception being volume 2, Fox Children, which adapted a story from the anthology Season of Storms.[33]

In 2001, a television series based on the Witcher cycle was released in Poland and internationally, entitled Wiedźmin (The Hexer). A film by the same title was compiled from excerpts of the television series but both have been critical and box office failures.[34]

In 2009, Russian heavy metal band Esse staged The Road with No Return, a rock opera based on the works by Sapkowski. Yevgeny Pronin is the author of the libretto and the composer of much of the opera's music. The premiere of the opera took place the same year in Rostov-on-Don and was subsequently released as a DVD in 2012.[35]

The Polish game developer, CD Projekt Red, created a role-playing game series based on The Witcher universe. The first game, titled simply The Witcher, was first released in October 2007.[36] The sequel, The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings was released in 2011.[37] The third game in the trilogy, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, was released in May 2015.[38] The game shipped over 40 million copies, making it one of the best selling video games of all time.

In May 2017, Netflix commissioned The Witcher, an English-language adaptation of the book series. The Witcher television series premiered on Netflix on 20 December 2019. Sapkowski served for a while as a creative consultant on the project.[39] The popularity of the Netflix show led to Sapkowski topping Amazon's list of best-selling authors ahead of J.K. Rowling and Stephen King.[40][41] A spin-off anime The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf, produced by Lauren Schmidt Hissrich, premiered in 2021.[42]

In September 2017, a musical Wiedźmin (The Witcher) directed by Wojciech Kościelniak was premiered at the Musical Theatre in Gdynia.[43]

The Witcher: Blood Origin is an upcoming fantasy miniseries created by Declan de Barra and Lauren Schmidt Hissrich adapted from The Witcher book series which will serve as a prequel to the Netflix television series. It is expected to premiere in December 2022.[44]

Awards and recognition[edit]

Sapkowski is a recipient of numerous awards and honours both Polish and foreign including:

Orders[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

The Witcher Saga[edit]

Short story collections[edit]

  • The Witcher (pl:Wiedźmin, 1990), 5 stories. Currently out of print, although 4 of its stories were reprinted in The Last Wish along with new material, while the fifth story was reprinted in Something ends, Something begins and The Malady and Other Stories.
  • Sword of Destiny (Miecz przeznaczenia, 1992), 6 stories. English edition: 2015[52]
  • The Last Wish (Ostatnie życzenie, 1993), 7 stories. English edition: 2007 (in US: 2008).[53] Its stories (including both its original stories and the stories which it republishes from The Witcher) take place before Sword of Destiny even though it was published later.
  • The short story "The Hexer" in the English anthology Chosen by Fate: Zajdel Award Winner Anthology (by SuperNOVA in cooperation with the Silesian Club of Fantasy Literature, 2000) is an English translation by Agnieszka Fulińska of the short story "The Witcher" which had previously been published in Polish in The Witcher and The Last Wish. The Last Wish was later translated into English in full.
  • The short story "Spellmaker" in the English anthology A Polish Book of Monsters (edited and translated by Michael Kandel, 2010) is another translation of the short story "The Witcher" which had previously been published in The Witcher, The Last Wish, and Chosen by Fate: Zajdel Award Winner Anthology.[54]
  • Something Ends, Something Begins (pl:Coś się kończy, coś się zaczyna, 2000), 8 stories. Only two of its stories are related to The Witcher saga ("The Road with No Return" and the titular "Something Ends, Something Begins").
  • The Malady and Other Stories (pl:Maladie i inne opowiadania, 2012), 10 stories. It includes the 8 stories from Something ends, Something begins plus two new stories that aren't related to The Witcher saga. The only one of its stories that was translated into English is the titular "The Malady" which was published in 2014 under the title The Malady and Other Stories, although that English publication didn't include the other 9 stories from the Polish collection of the same name.[citation needed]

Pentalogy[edit]

Standalone Prequel novel[edit]

  • Season of Storms (Sezon burz, 2013). English edition: 22 May 2018 – set between the short stories in The Last Wish[58]

Hussite Trilogy[edit]

Other novels[edit]

Other works[edit]

  • The Eye of Yrrhedes (Oko Yrrhedesa, 1995), roleplaying game
  • The World of King Arthur. Maladie (Świat króla Artura. Maladie, 1995), essay and an illustrated short story set in Arthurian mythology
  • Manuscript Discovered in a Dragon's Cave (Rękopis znaleziony w Smoczej Jaskini, 2001), fantasy encyclopedic compendium

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Sapkowski potwierdza: Powstanie nowy "Wiedźmin"!" (in Polish). Archived from the original on 15 May 2012. Retrieved 13 July 2021.
  2. ^ "A Polish Tolkien? The fantasy world of Andrzej Sapkowski". 13 December 2016. Retrieved 14 August 2022.
  3. ^ "The Proper Reading Order For The Witcher Books". MSN. Retrieved 14 August 2022.
  4. ^ "CD Projekt Red Offering More Compensation to Witcher Series Creator". 4 February 2019. Retrieved 14 August 2022.
  5. ^ Holbrook, Damian (10 December 2019). "'The Witcher's Henry Cavill Says 'Tough' Geralt Has a 'Heart of Gold'". TV Insider. Retrieved 23 June 2021.
  6. ^ "How did Slavic Mythology Influence Andrzej Sapkowski?". Retrieved 14 August 2022.
  7. ^ "Życiorys autora "Wiedźmina" jest pełen zaskakujących zwrotów akcji. Sapkowski miał zostać inżynierem, przeżył życiową tragedię i... był w wojsku z Markiem Belką" (in Polish). 15 December 2021. Retrieved 14 August 2022.
  8. ^ Bereś, Stanisław (2005). Historia i fantastyka. Warsaw: SuperNowa. p. 53, 203-204. ISBN 83-7054-178-X.
  9. ^ "Wybitni absolwenci" (in Polish). Retrieved 5 February 2022.
  10. ^ Flamma, Adam (2020). Wiedźmin. Historia fenomenu. Wydawnictwo Dolnośląskie Oddział. ISBN 978-83-245-8425-3.
  11. ^ НО МЫ ЖЕ СЛАВЯНЕ! РАЗГОВОР С АНДЖЕЕМ САПКОВСКИМ, An interview with Sapkowski for Russian monthly magazine "World of Fatnastics"
  12. ^ a b (in Polish) Marek Oramus Jedynie słuszny wizerunek wiedźmina, Polityka – nr 36 (2261) from 2000-09-02; pp. 52–54
  13. ^ The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski , fantasybookreview
  14. ^ "Blood Of Elves by Andrzej Sapkowski (The Witcher #3)". Retrieved 25 August 2022.
  15. ^ "Manuscript Found in a Dragon's Cave - Andrzej Sapkowski". Retrieved 14 August 2022.
  16. ^ "Andrzej Sapkowski". Retrieved 5 February 2022.
  17. ^ "Najlepsze dzieło Sapkowskiego wciąż czeka na ekranizację" (in Polish). 18 December 2019. Retrieved 14 August 2022.
  18. ^ a b "Andrzej Sapkowski wzywa CD Projekt do zapłaty 60 mln zł" (in Polish). Retrieved 14 August 2022.
  19. ^ "CD Projekt Resolves Lawsuit with Witcher Author Andrzej Sapkowski". Retrieved 14 August 2022.
  20. ^ "The Witcher author and CD Projekt end royalties dispute with licensing agreement". Polygon. 20 December 2019. Retrieved 14 August 2022.
  21. ^ "CD PROJEKT SA (17/2019) Zawarcie porozumienia" (in Polish). Retrieved 14 August 2022.
  22. ^ "Nie wierzę w czary» ANDRZEJ SAPKOWSKI ZONE BY JOHN MACKANACKY". MercatorNet (in Polish). 13 December 2016. Retrieved 24 September 2021.
  23. ^ "Zmarł jedyny syn Andrzeja Sapkowskiego. Gdyby nie on, nie byłoby "Wiedźmina"". Retrieved 5 February 2022.
  24. ^ "10 ciekawostek o Andrzeju Sapkowskim". 24 February 2017.
  25. ^ "Andrzej Sapkowski" (in Polish). Retrieved 30 January 2022.
  26. ^ "Andrzej Sapkowski on the Mythologies Behind The Witcher". 27 August 2022.
  27. ^ Orliński, Wojciech (26 October 2005). "Historia i fantastyka, Bereś, Stanisław; Sapkowski, Andrzej". wyborcza.pl (in Polish). Retrieved 20 February 2019.
  28. ^ "The Last Wish Cover Reveal. . . of sorts!". Gollancz blog. Archived from the original on 4 October 2013. Retrieved 4 August 2013.
  29. ^ "Blood of elves". worldcat.org.
  30. ^ "The final 2008 longlist for the David Gemmell Legends Award". 1 January 2009. Archived from the original on 6 February 2009. Retrieved 23 January 2009.
  31. ^ Alison Flood, Gemmell prize for fantasy goes to Polish novel, Blood of Elves, Guardian, Friday 19 June 2009
  32. ^ Pisula, Radosław; Słoński, Łukasz (16 March 2016). "Geralt w niewoli kadru. Strategie adaptacyjne i recepcja polskich komiksów o wiedźminie". Wiedźmin – polski fenomen popkultury (in Polish). Stowarzyszenie Badaczy Popkultury i Edukacji Popkulturowej Trickster. pp. 128–140. ISBN 978-83-64863-05-9. Retrieved 20 August 2022.
  33. ^ Warnke, Agnieszka (18 December 2019). "The Witcher: The Road From Rivia to Hollywood". Culture.pl. Retrieved 20 August 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  34. ^ "Before Netflix Adapted 'The Witcher,' There Was A Polish Version of the TV Series". The Inquisitr. 25 December 2019. Retrieved 22 January 2020.
  35. ^ "Droga, z której się nie wraca zespołu Esse" (in Polish). Retrieved 25 August 2022.
  36. ^ "The Witcher Official Website – Official Release Date!". Archived from the original on 9 July 2007. Retrieved 17 July 2007.
  37. ^ Robinson, Andy (16 January 2010). "Witcher 2 release date confirmed". CVG. Retrieved 4 June 2011.
  38. ^ Karmali, Luke (8 December 2014). "The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt release date delayed again". IGN. Archived from the original on 29 March 2015.
  39. ^ Stanhope, Kate (17 May 2017). "'The Witcher' Saga TV Series Adaptation Ordered at Netflix". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 3 November 2019.
  40. ^ "The Witcher Writer Now Amazon's Most Popular Author Due To Netflix Series". 31 December 2019. Retrieved 30 August 2022.
  41. ^ "Netflix's New Show Has Made The Witcher Writer #1 on Amazon's Most Popular Author Rankings". Retrieved 30 August 2022.
  42. ^ "'I Do Not Like Working Too Hard or Too Long': A Refreshingly Honest Talk With The Witcher's Creator". 27 January 2020. Retrieved 29 August 2022.
  43. ^ "Spektakle" (in Polish). Retrieved 15 August 2022.
  44. ^ "The Witcher: Blood Origin Release Date: Is It Coming In September 2022?". 29 August 2022. Retrieved 29 August 2022.
  45. ^ "sfadb: World Fantasy Awards 2016". www.sfadb.com.
  46. ^ "2010 – 2019 – European Science Fiction Society".
  47. ^ Flood, Alison (19 June 2009). "Gemmell prize for fantasy goes to Polish novel, Blood of Elves". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 January 2018.
  48. ^ "Andrzej Sapkowski Honorowym Obywatelem Łodzi" (in Polish). 9 July 2008. Retrieved 20 August 2022.
  49. ^ "Andrzej Sapkowski - biography". culture.pl. October 2010.
  50. ^ "1990 – 1999 – European Science Fiction Society".
  51. ^ "Minister Bogdan Zdrojewski wręczył medale „Zasłużony Kulturze - Gloria Artis”", 14 April, 2014
  52. ^ Sapkowski, Andrzej (27 June 2017). Sword of Destiny. hachettebookgroup.com. ISBN 9780316389716.
  53. ^ Sapkowski, Andrzej. (2008). The last wish. Stok, Danusia. London: Gollancz. ISBN 978-0-575-08244-1. OCLC 861342636.
  54. ^ "A Polish Book of Monsters: Five Dark Tales from Contemporary Poland". cosmopolitanreview.com.
  55. ^ Amazon page
  56. ^ "ISBN Unavailable". Orion Publishing Group. Archived from the original on 26 March 2014. Retrieved 26 March 2014.
  57. ^ a b "Gollancz Acquire Three More Witcher Novels". Gollancz blog. Archived from the original on 19 June 2018. Retrieved 23 May 2015.
  58. ^ Aleksandra Ksann. "Sezon Burz - Wiedźmin - Andrzej Sapkowski - Serwis o filmach, książkach, grach i technologiach". mediarivermagazine.pl. Archived from the original on 13 March 2014.
  59. ^ "A brand new fantasy trilogy by Andrzej Sapkowski, New York Times bestselling author of the Witcher novels!". orbitbooks.net. Orbit Books. 11 October 2018. Retrieved 23 April 2020.

External links[edit]