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On 22 May, Polish-Belgian philosopher and writer Alicja Gescinska will deliver the fifth State of European Literature. In her lecture, Gescinska will reflect on the important, connecting role of translators. The State of European Literature is an annual lecture delivered by a prominent author or poet of international renown about the state of literature and Europe from the perspective of literature.
Alicja Gescinska (Photo: Stephan Vanfleteren)

Philosopher, writer and programme maker Alicja Gescinska (Warsaw 1981) fled from communist Poland to Belgium with her father and mother in 1988. She became famous in 2011 with De verovering van de vrijheid (The conquest of freedom), in which she interwove autobiographical details with a philosophical plea for positive freedom. Since then, Geschinska has also written essays, opinion pieces and reviews, and she became a member of the Filosofisch elftal (Philosophical eleven) of the Dutch daily newspaper Trouw.

In 2016, her first novel was published, Een soort van liefde (A kind of love), and she started presenting the Belgian philosophical television programme Wanderlust, in which she enters into philosophical discussions with internationally-renowned philosophers, writers, academics and artists. In 2022, Gescinska received the royal honour Commandeur in de Leopoldsorde (Commander in the Order of Leopold).

Literary bridge builders

In her lecture, Gescinska will reflect on the immense value of translators, the literary bridge builders of Europe. Translators bring the faraway close by, they make the strange familiar. In this way, they create greater understanding on the European continent that transcends all our differences.

After the lecture, Alicja Gescinska will enter into discussion with the Flemish writer, poet, essayist and translator Erwin Mortier. The discussion will be moderated by the writer and literary critic Margot Dijkgraaf. The lecture will take place on 22 May at 20:00 in the Agnietenkapel.

About the State of European Literature

The State of European Literature is organised by the Faculty of Humanities of the UvA and SPUI25, in collaboration with the Amsterdam Centre of European Studies (ACES), the Amsterdam School for Regional and Transnational and European Studies (ARTES), the Netherlands Research School for Literary Studies (OSL) and Duitsland Instituut Amsterdam (DIA).

The lecture aims to draw attention to the importance of Europe's rich and diverse literary tradition. In previous years, Philipp Blom, Nelleke Noordervliet, Alain Mabanckou and Fatma Aydemir delivered the State of European Literature.