Polish court clears author of defaming ‘The Pianist’

Polish court clears author of defaming ‘The Pianist’


norman lebrecht

October 03, 2013

In a biography of the pianist Wladyslaw Szpilman, whose Warsaw Ghetto memoir was filmed by Roman Polanski, Agata Tuszynska quoted another survivor who accused Szpilman of collaborating with the Germans.

Szpilman’s widow and son sued for libel.

The court found against them, ruling that the author had distanced herself from the negative opinion she quoted.

Hmmmm… Not many English courts would agree.



  • Szpilman didn’t have a daughter; you must be thinking of Andrzej, one of his two sons.

  • Marjorie says:

    I would like to know why you think a British court “would not agree.” I read the linked article and found nothing there except that the author had quoted other people (in particular, one Vera Gran).

    In the U.K., is a biographer not allowed to quote what other people have said about the subject of a biography? If that is the rule, it certainly constitutes a considerable restriction on the art or craft of biography. It sounds to me like maybe the widow and son should have sued Vera Gran rather than the biographer.

  • Michael Schaffer says:

    Makes total sense to me. After all, the author is merely reporting that the subject of her book, Gran, made these accusations about Szpilman. If she distances herself from the accusations by commenting on them and saying that they are not very credible and that there is no proof they are true, all the better.

    It’s basically the same situation we just had here when you reported that the Daily Mail made some comments of dubious quality about the father of that British politician. You reported the content of these comments and distanced yourself from them. So nobody could accuse you of slandering that man.

    I agree that Szpilman’s relatives could have sued Gran, but it should also be noted that Szpilman had apparently accused Gran of being a collaborator but then she was exonerated several times. So I guess she would have had a basis for suing *him* for libel. But maybe we should just let the dead rest.