spiro_messiasokAngelus Prize (Poland) for Best Eastern European novel, 2010

The characters in this novel, taking place in the mid-19th century, are all historical figures. They include the greatest Polish poets, Mickiewicz and Słowacki, who founded a strange sect in Paris, together with a few dozens of their compatriots. These Polish emigrants believed that Andrzej Towiański, a Pole who arrived in Paris from the Russian Empire, is none other but Jesus Christ incarnate, who came down to the earth again in order to write the Newest Testament with his own life, and facilitate a new Redemption, led by the Polish people. The novel, which narrates the rise and fall of the sect, has two protagonists: one is the prophetic poet, Adam Mickiewicz, the other is a certain Gerson Ram, son of a Jewish printer who rebels against his father and his religion, and becomes a follower of Towiański in Vilna (then a Polish city occupied by the Russians). Towiański’s sect was at the same time an archaic and a very modern organization, the origins of which can be traced back to centuries of European (German and French) mysticism, and which also anticipated 20th and 21st century ideas. It is not by chance that some Italian members of the sects joined the Fascist movement. Towiański himself lived to a very old age, and his followers supported him financially until his death. Starting with the defeat of the Polish uprising, the story follows the Polish refugees through German states to Paris. We spend some time in Rome and Jerusalem, then take part in the Paris revolution of 1848, following Mickiewicz’s legion to Italy, and ending our journey in the company of Poles and Russians in Istanbul, in 1855. Messiahs has had several Hungarian editions, and its Polish translation received the prestigious Angelus Prize in Wrocław, awarded to the best Eastern European novel of the year in 2010.

 “What happens if we mix Dostoyevsky with Sterne?

A tragicomedy about the Towiański sect by a Hungarian author.” (Juliusz Kurkiewicz)

Product details
ISBN 978 963 14 2552 9
2007, hard cover with jacket
648 pages, 145×225 mm
3990 HUF

Rights sold
Polish, WAB

German excerpts and complete Polish text available


György Spiró