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Encyclopedia > Efebos

Efebos is a lost novel written by Karol Szymanowski, who is best known as a composer. During the difficult period of time around World War I and the Russian Revolution, Szymanowski's childhood home in what is now Ukraine was destroyed, and he found himself unable to compose. Instead, he explored religious and homosexual themes in this novel.

While the contents of Efebos can, for the most part, be only speculated at, it is known that it explores ideas which Szymanowski expressed in his music, as well. The clearest affinities are to his opera King Roger, which shares a setting in Sicily and similarly explores the "Apollonian" and "Dionysian" facets of faith. The very personal homosexual component of Efebos prompted its author to ask his friend, the writer Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz to keep it in his posession, and it remained unpublished.

Although Szymanowski expressed interest in seeing Efebos published, he wanted to wait until his mother died, presumably to spare her any potential feelings of embarassment from the contents of the book. As it turned out, he predeceased her, dying in 1937. Iwaszkiewicz kept the manuscript, but it was destroyed in a fire in Warsaw in 1939.



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