The Anti-Feminist Harangue in Lem's Fiasco

Sun Dec 28, 2008

I learned from Michael Kandel’s essay* in Peter Swirski’s collection The Art and Science of Stanislaw Lem (McGill UP, 2006) that crew member Harrach’s feelings about the absurdity of women appearing in science fiction novels (on pp. 313-14 of the Polish original according to Kandel) which expands into a rant was dropped from Kandel’s translation (with Lem’s approval) because Kandel and his editor thought that it would appear “ridiculous if not offensive to an American reader” (80 n.8). If I understand Kandel correctly, this passage is clearly an authorial aside.

I still can’t read Polish, but I feel like I have to check the French or German translations to see a) if it was left in and b) just how offensive it is. (I can’t help but think that Kandel might have overestimated the sensitivity of the American consumer of science fiction toward misogyny, but just as Lem is not Jerry Pournelle, neither do their readerships much overlap I suspect [and hope.])

Kandel also omitted a couple of pages from his translation of one of the Voyages of Ijon Tichy, as I recall, and I don’t know why.

*“A Freudian Peek at Lem’s Fiasco,” in Swirski ed., 72-80.