IMPRESSIONS OF AMERICA

When Konstanty Buszczyński travelled to America in 1910, it was the start of a love affair culminating in his appointment as the first Polish Consul of New York. His account of that voyage and his musings on the place of the United States in the world have now been translated into English for the first time by translator Kasia Beresford in an edition from Kabaty Press. Impressions of America is an important new primary source for historians, but also an entertaining read, covering everything from analysis of the political and economic climate to the nuances of ‘cow-boys’ and a visit to Niagara Falls.

Konstanty Buszczyński (1856-1921) was an industrialist who ran a successful company specialising in sugar beet seeds, with research and development facilities located in Utah. In pursuit of his business and for his own pleasure, he travelled widely around what he called ‘an extraordinarily beautiful, rich, extremely dynamic country.’ Impressions of America contains an account of his travels but also an analysis of the American society and character at the turn of the 20th century, as experienced by a well-connected foreigner. Buszczyński alternates descriptions of his touristic activities (a visit to Niagara falls, a train journey across Colorado) with deeper analysis of subjects such as the role of religion in the American state and the role of irrigation in opening up the West. He is particularly interested in the Polish diaspora and their role in American life.

In his foreword, Dominic A. Pacyga, Emeritus Professor at Columbia University and author of American Warsaw: The Rise, Fall and Rebirth of Polish Chicago, calls the book ‘A love song to the nation.’ Manager of Kabaty Press Isobelle Clare Fabian says, ‘It’s not very often that a new primary source comes along, so it’s an essential read for anyone with an interest in American history.’

This title is the first publication from Kabaty Press. Founded in 2018, it aims to make never-translated gems of literature available to a worldwide, English-speaking audience using print-on-demand technology and online distribution.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Konstanty Buszczyński, the son of Stefan and Helena (Hlebicki-Józefowicz) Buszczyński married Jadwiga Dmochowska with whom he had six children. As a young man, he graduated from the Real School in Dresden, Germany and began his studies at the Dresden University of Technology. He soon moved to the Riga University of Technology in the Russian Empire. Buszczyński studied briefly at the Faculty of Chemistry (1877-1878) and afterwards attended the University of Lwów in Galicia. He returned to the Riga University of Technology and its Faculty of Agriculture, where he obtained a diploma with distinction in 1883. After graduation, he worked at his estate in Niemiercze in Podolia, and in 1886 started a business focused on development and production of sugar beet seeds with his relative Łążyński. In 1894 Łążyński sold his share of the business to Buszczyński, who expanded the business substantially and became a market leader in research and development of seed varieties. His company eventually owned research and development facilities in both California and Utah, which were used for testing the performance of various seeds under specific climactic conditions. He spent much of his time during 1910-1912 in the United States, and drew on this for the first edition of Impressions from America in 1916. Due to this experience, Minister Leon Wasilewski entrusted him with organizing the first Polish consulate in New York City, where he served as consul general (1919). Buszczyński was dismissed from the post by Prime Minister Ignacy Jan Paderewski for participating in the congress of the National Defense Committee, a group supporting Józef Piłsudski in Boston. Before his death in 1921 he returned to Poland and was buried in the Rakowicki Cemetery in Kraków.

Further reading: 

Pierwszy polski konsul w Nowym Jorku - Nowy Dziennik (Polish only)

1936 Commemorative booklet from Konstanty Buszczyński i Synowie Hodowla Nasion Spółka Akcyjna (Polish only)

 

“In lively prose Impressions of America evokes the energy and complexity of the society and culture of the United States in the era of Theodore Roosevelt’s presidency.  Buszczyński pays little attention to politics but captures the complexity, diversity of the society, economy, and culture, particularly the popular culture. It is a remarkable survey across the continent.”

Thomas H. Bender, Professor Emeritus of History, New York University

 

ABOUT THE TRANSLATOR

Kasia Beresford is a translator from Polish into English and a Polish<>English public service interpreter based in Manchester, UK. Brought up in a Polish family in London, she studied languages and 19th century literature at Cambridge University, spending one year at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków. She then developed a career in business and became an expert in business information systems.

The start of Kasia’s route back to translation was a wedding gift from translator Diana Kuprel — a poem in Polish by Marek Kusiba commissioned for the occasion. Clearly Kasia had to translate it for all the English guests… and so the seed was sown for a change in direction, for qualifying as a public service interpreter and exploring avenues in translation. Among other things, Kasia has translated the memoirs of Antoni Szymański, Poland’s military attaché in Berlin until the outbreak of World War II, and both fiction and reportage for the Polish Book Institute’s publication New Books from Poland. You can read Kasia's account of translating Impressions here or find her website at https://www.kasia.org.uk

 

“When Konstanty Buszczynski returned to Poland after visiting the United States shortly before World War I, he carried a rosy picture of what he had seen and what he believed the United States stood for. Particularly striking was his view of the United States' strong moral traditions, a view that probably needed to be qualified at the time, but that still offered a welcome complement to less complimentary opinions from foreign visitors. This first English translation of the book is particularly welcome for showing what a wide-awake Polish businessman found to be important in his American sojourn.”

Mark Noll, Francis A. McAnaney Professor of History Emeritus, University of Notre Dame

 

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