Andrzej Sapkowski talks creative freedom and slavicness in The Witcher


Thirty-three years since Andrzej Sapkowski’s first short story The Witcher made its debut in the Polish Fantastyka Magazine, Nowa Fantastyka sat down with the author to talk about his first impressions of the upcoming Netflix series, his stance towards creative liberties in adaptations and the debate on “slavicness” in his work.

Marcin Zwierzchowski: Regarding the mentioned visit on the set – what were your impressions?

Andrzej Sapkowski: “I was moved. Everything fascinated me there, even took my breath away – and everything was shown to me. Downright monumental decorations, costumes, make-up, acting, the crew and technicians’ work. It appeared as a big thing to me. Because it was.”

Andrzej Sapkowski and Tomek Bagiński on set

Marcin Zwierzchowski: Going back to the subjects of freedom of the adaptation’s creators, are there some fundaments of Geralt’s story, for the change of which you would disagree?

AS: “Creators of adaptations of literature works for other media have the right to be sovereign creators, with unrestricted right to creative freedom. However in the particular case of this adaptation, their ideas can be different than mine. And even when some of their ideas are different than mine, so what? My books are not the Bible.”

Andrzej Sapkwoski discussing costume art with costume designer Tim Aslam and Tomek Bagiński

Marcin Zwierzchowski: I’d like for you to address the slavicness of The Witcher’s world, as the topic has been inflaming the fans.

AS: “That ‘slavicness’ is rather something akin to a myth, by which my works were overgrown – and I myself too. The label of the ‘Slav’ was given to me and it stayed like that. Why? That Geralt sounds more Slavic than Conan? That I worked something Slavic-alike into onomastics? My first stories strictly adhered to the canon of fantasy – I’m thinking about the world’s canon here. Well, then the translations came and the world’s fantasy industry had to accept a Pole in whose works every smarter readers could spot some ‘Polish’ or ‘Slavic’ [phrases].”

The Witcher debuts on December 20, 2019.

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