Madame / Antoni Libera ; translated from the Polish by Agnieszka Kołakowska.

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  • Additional Information
    • Publication Information:
      1st ed.
    • Abstract:
      Review: "Madame is a novel about Poland during the grim years of Soviet-controlled mediocrity which nonetheless sparkles with light and warmth." "Our young narrator-hero is suffering through the regulated boredom of high school when he is transfixed by a new teacher - an elegant "older woman" (she is thirty-two) who bewitches him with her glacial beauty and her strict intelligence. He resolves to learn everything he can about her and to win her heart."
    • Abstract:
      "In a sequence of marvelously funny but sobering maneuvers, he finds out much more than he expected - about politics, Poland, and the Spanish Civil War, and his own passion for theater and art - all while his loved one continues to elude him. Yet without his realizing it, his efforts - largely bookish and literary - to close in on Madame are his first steps to liberation as an artist.
    • Abstract:
      Later, during a stint as a teacher-in-training in his old school, he discovers that he himself has become a legendary figure to a new generation of students, and he begins to understand the deceits and blessings of myth, and its redemptive power."--Jacket.
    • Other Titles:
      Madame. English
    • ISBN:
    • Accession Number:
    • Accession Number:
    • Accession Number:
  • Citations
    • ABNT:
      LIBERA, A.; KOŁAKOWSKA, A. Madame. [s. l.]: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2000. ISBN 0374200068. Disponível em: Acesso em: 28 jan. 2020.
    • AMA:
      Libera A, Kołakowska A. Madame. Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 2000. Accessed January 28, 2020.
    • APA:
      Libera, A., & Kołakowska, A. (2000). Madame. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Retrieved from
    • Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date:
      Libera, Antoni, and Agnieszka Kołakowska. 2000. Madame. Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
    • Harvard:
      Libera, A. and Kołakowska, A. (2000) Madame. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Available at: (Accessed: 28 January 2020).
    • Harvard: Australian:
      Libera, A & Kołakowska, A 2000, Madame, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, viewed 28 January 2020, .
    • MLA:
      Libera, Antoni, and Agnieszka Kołakowska. Madame. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2000. EBSCOhost,
    • Chicago/Turabian: Humanities:
      Libera, Antoni, and Agnieszka Kołakowska. Madame. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2000.
    • Vancouver/ICMJE:
      Libera A, Kołakowska A. Madame [Internet]. Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 2000 [cited 2020 Jan 28]. Available from:


Booklist Monthly Selections - #1 March 2000

In this first novel, the young protagonist and narrator, who is never named, journeys from childhood to adulthood, with cold war-era Poland as the backdrop. He tells of his never-ending quest for glory during his school days. He starts a jazz band and then a theater troupe, but the perfect moment that he seeks eludes him. When a new, beautiful headmistress comes to his school, he falls madly in love with her and makes it his purpose to find out everything he can about her. He begins with basic things, such as her address and phone number, but soon he begins to research her past, and, in doing so, discovers more than he ever dreamed, not only about her, but about himself as well. Through this quest, he finds direction and purpose in his life. Though numerous digressions sometimes take away from the flow of the novel, the narrator's lively and passionate voice keeps the reader engaged. The only other detraction is the untranslated French throughout the text, but overall, this is an impressive debut. ((Reviewed March 1, 2000)) Copyright 2000 Booklist Reviews

LJ Reviews 2000 February #2

In this first novel from Polish critic and theater director Libera, the high school-aged protagonist finds life in Soviet-dominated Poland to be dreary and lacking in the drama of earlier eras. The pressure to conform politically and socially thwarts his desire for pure artistic expression. His resignation to the unremarkable is interrupted by a growing obsession with his elegant and enigmatic French teacher, Madame seemingly out of reach at age 32. Thus, the young man spends his final year of high school uncovering the details of Madame's personal life, hoping to use these details to woo her through a covert operation that involves the intricate manipulation of the spoken and written word. While engaged in this espionage, he learns that the dramatic is made up of the everyday and that the Polish-Soviet system promotes mediocrity while burying the exceptional. This deeply symbolic Bildungsroman is full of tragedy and comedy, exuberance and suffocation. Highly recommended. Rebecca A. Stuhr, Grinnell Coll. Libs., IA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

PW Reviews 2000 February #1

A teenage boy's doomed love for his glamorous French instructor in 1960s Poland informs the masterfully constructed debut of Warsaw critic and drama director Libera. When a beautiful 32-year-old teacher, known primarily as "Madame," takes over the narrator's high school French class, he is entranced by her combination of austere intelligence and immaculate beauty. He soon begins following her and researching her life to feed his obsession. When he flirtatiously taunts her in class with covert references to her past, she seems only mildly indignant. Finally, he discovers that she is the daughter of a man who left Poland for political reasons during the 1940s, and that she has felt uncertain of her own identity for much of her adult life; this revelation fills him with empathy for her. The unlikely chemistry between the immature pupil and his adult teacher is electrifying, and the tantalizing pace builds to a mystifying and heart-wrenching climax. Libera paints the narrator's obsession with Madame with a wit worthy of Nabokov (in a crystalline translation by Kolakowska) as his satire of the youth's reckless romantic impulse mixes with heated romantic intrigue. In the course of researching his amour, the narrator sees Picasso's The Human Comedy drawings and Lelouch's film A Man and a Woman, both new at the time; the attitude toward physical and psychological love expressed in both adds a complex and fitting symbolism to the intense politics and passion in the narrative. The layers of the student's obsession unravel with impressive measure as well, even if Libera occasionally gives too much attention to the inner workings of his hero's mind or the history of Poland's oppression by Communist forces. This epic fantasy is deeply satisfying, heartbreaking and enthralling. (Apr.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.