Born during the tumultuous one-hundred-year division of Poland by Austria, Prussia, and Russia, Gabriela Zapolska (1857–1921) was an actor, journalist, and playwright who wrote over thirty plays in her lifetime. In her best-known work, The Morality of Mrs. Dulska, a tyrannical landlady harasses, exploits, and even prostitutes the eccentric cast of tenants who occupy her stone tenement building. The petty-bourgeois tragicomedy that ensues is regarded as a landmark of early modernist Polish drama.
A cross between Bertolt Brecht’s Mother Courage and Patricia Routledge’s Hyacinth Bucket, Mrs. Dulska keeps her purse strings tightly drawn and shows no compassion towards the sad plights of her lodgers—until she is forced to come to terms with her own possessive love for her son. Now available for the first time in an English-language edition that firmly situates the play in the context of its performance history, Zapolska’s incisive play is an uncompromising look at gender, class, and relationships in fin-de-siècle Poland.
“In her introduction to Zapolska's seminal play, Murjas discusses the many intriguing challenges involved in its cultural transference, combining the perspective of translator with that of theatre practitioner. This book is a rare treat in a much neglected area of modern scholarship.”—Elwira Grossman, University of Glasgow