Henryk Sienkiewicz

Through desert and wilderness

Henryk Sienkiewicz achieved great fame in his Polish homeland through historical novels such as "With Fire and Sword" (1st part of a trilogy, 1883). With the publication of another historical novel, "Quo Vadis" (1895), he finally gained worldwide recognition. In 1905 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.

"Through Desert and Wilderness" leads the reader through the diverse vegetation of the African continent and gives him fascinating insights into the life of the native tribes. The story centres on 14-year-old Stasch, son of a Polish engineer, and Nell, the 8-year-old daughter of the English director of the Suez Canal Company. The everyday life of children in Africa takes a sudden turn when Stasch and Nell become victims of a kidnapping. The book has been filmed several times since the 1970s, in Poland, the FRG, the GDR and USA/South Africa. 

Through desert and wilderness

Henryk Sienkiewicz (PL)

Paperback, Softcover, German, 384 pages, 21 x 14,8 cm, 2nd edition German, published: 30 Dec. 2016, ISBN 978-3-906212-15-9

Durch Wüste und Wildnis (Paperback)

14,90 €

  • 0,39 kg
  • verfügbar
  • 3 - 5 Tage Lieferzeit1

Through desert and wilderness

Henryk Sienkiewicz (PL)

Gift edition, hardcover, bound, German, 356 pages, 22 x 14 cm, 1st edition German, published: 31 May 2020, ISBN 978-3-906212-60-9

Durch Wüste und Wildnis (hardcover)

24,90 €

  • 0,53 kg
  • verfügbar
  • 3 - 5 Tage Lieferzeit1

About the author

Henryk Adam Aleksander Pius Sienkiewicz was born on May 5, 1846 in Wola Okrzejskaim, a small village, the eldest of five children of the simple landed gentry Josef Sienkiewicz and Stefania Cieciszowska, who also came from the Polish nobility. His second cousin was the Polish Romantic poetess Jadwiga Łuszczewska, his more distant uncle was the historian and freedom fighter Joachim Lelewel (1786-1861), who was important for the literature of the Romantic period in Poland, and his nephew was Ignacy Chrzanowski, professor of literary history who died in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. Sienkiewicz was married three times and had two children from his first marriage, Henryk Józef and Jadwiga Sienkiewicz.


Hubert Sauer Žur (1923-2013) was the publishing director of the renowned "Greifenverlag" publishing house in Rudolstadt (Thuringia), which was founded in 1919. This was one of the best-known fictional German-language publishers of the 20th century. The publishing house experienced its most significant phase in the 50s and 60s, when it distinguished itself with the publication of exile literature, selected areas of world literature and illustrated books. After the death of the founder Karl Dietz, Hubert Sauer Žur became publishing director of the then state-owned VEB Greifenverlag in 1965.


Rawlison and Tarkowski were expecting the children very much. But they did not do it in the middle of the sand hills of Wadi Rajan. To go there they had neither an assignment nor the slightest desire. Rather, they waited for their offspring in a completely different area, namely in the town of El Fachen. It was located at the canal of the same name, where they had to inspect the work they had done until the end of the year.

The distance between El Fachen and Medinet is about forty-five kilometres as the crow flies. However, there is no direct connection between the two places. You have to go via El Wasta, which almost doubles the distance. Rawlison leafed through the course book and made the following calculation: "Chamis set off yesterday evening," he explained to Tarkowski. "In El Wasta, he must have caught the train from Cairo. So he was in Medinet this morning. The children could have invited them in an hour. If they left at noon, they would have to wait for the Nile Line night train. However, I have forbidden Nell to travel at night. Therefore, they will leave early today and arrive shortly after sunset."

"Certainly," Tarkovsky agreed. "Chamis finally needs to take a breather. Although Stasch is burning with impatience, he can be relied upon as soon as it comes to Nell. By the way, I have also written to him to avoid all night drives."

"He's a brave lad," said Rawlison appreciatively. "I'm counting on him."

"Me too," Tarkovsky added. "For all his weaknesses, he has an honest character. He does not lie. He's too bold for that. In his opinion, only cowards cheat. There is no lack of energy in him. If he is careful and prudent in time, he will be able to help himself in life."

"Definitely," Rawlison confirmed. "And as for prudence, were you prudent at his age?"

"I have to admit I didn't do it," Tarkovsky admitted with a laugh. "Maybe I wasn't as confident as he was."

"It'll pass," said Rawlison. "You're lucky to have a son like that."

"And you, to have such a lovely creature as Nell for a daughter," Tarkovsky returned the compliment.

"God bless both," Rawlison concluded.

The two friends sat down to examine the plans and cost estimates for the canal construction projects. Time passed until dusk. Around six o'clock, when night had already fallen, they went to the railway. Walking along the platform, they continued their conversation about the children.

"Blinding weather, but cool," Rawlison remarked. "I hope Nell has brought warm clothing."

"Stash will have thought about it. And Dinah too," reassured Tarkowski.

"Still, I regret that we didn't go to Medinet ourselves instead of bringing her here," Rawlison said sheepishly.

"That's exactly what I had guessed," explained Tarkowski bossy. "Remember?"

"I know," Rawlison admitted. "If it were not for the fact that we had to go further south from here. After my rollover, the road would have taken too much time. Besides, it would have taken us less time with the children. Finally, I admit, Chamis advised us to bring them here. He claimed to have a terrible longing for them and to consider himself lucky, I sent him to them. I'm not surprised that he became fond of them."

The hissing of a locomotive interrupted the conversation. Shortly afterwards her glowing eyes rose from the darkness. At the same time she stomped in with a shrill whistle. Illuminated carriages glided along the platform, shaking and standing still.

"I never turned them off in any window," said Rawlison.

"They'll get out in a minute," Tarkovsky reassured him.Among the arrivals Arabs predominated. El Fachen does not have much to offer except beautiful palm and acacia groves.

The children were not there.

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