Monday, 7 January 2013

In Rodinsky's Room.

"Rodinsky's main occupation appeared to have been writing. Just as his contemporaries had written in hidden rooms, sealed-off attics and underground bunkers all over Eastern Europe. While studying in Krakow I heard how archives were assembled in the Warsaw ghetto in milk cans, then sealed with lead before being buried, in the vain hope that they would survive as a record of their authors; existence. The lone printed boldly in the books I retrieved from the synagogue in Greatorex Street came to mind: FOR FUTURE REFERENCE. 

...In the ghettos, diaries were written on any book that could be found, in as many languages as possible - French, Yiddish, Russian... - and in an attic in East London, in a later but parallel time, David Rodinsky sat alone and wrote in Letts diaries, on ild newspapers, cigarette packets, in Greek, Hebrew, Chinese, Russian. Rodinsky would have been eighteen years old at the time of the ghetto uprising, slightly older than the average age of the rebel fighters. But he didn't bury his books, he didn't need to, he just locked the door and left a tomb without a body, maybe hoping someone in the future would find it and decode his tale. He shifted constantly in my mind from scholar to lunatic to hero."

From Rodinsky's Room by Rachel Lichtenstein and Iain Sinclair, London, Granta Books, 1999.
Portrait of Rachel Lichtenstein by Marc Atkins, 1995

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