Of all the novels by Leopold Tyrmand - a writer who went above and beyond - "The Bad" is the best known. It is an epic story, showing a colorful portrait of the underworld of post-war Warsaw in the early 1950s. A city full of contradictions, dangerous but also teeming with regenerating life. The title "Zły" is a mysterious hero who self-proclaimedly fights to protect the weaker against Warsaw hooligans and the capital's underworld. When the law fails, he uses his fist.
The action of "The Evil" takes place in many, very characteristic for the post-war, points of Warsaw - in the rubble of Śródmieście and Wola, the rebuilt Old Town, ruined tenement houses, in Torwar, in the Koszyki hall, at the Różycki Bazaar, construction sites, militia stations, at railway stations in railways, trams, trolleybuses and buses, commuter trains, parks, suspect murder rooms, milk bars, cafes, editorial offices and restaurants.
The extensive novel mixes the literary language with the Warsaw dialect, addressing its readers with the words of journalists, hooligans, ponies, traders, crooks and workers. Leopold Tyrmand knew these people, he knew and saw from his autopsy the world that was also his everyday life. You can feel it all in the book from the very first pages.
The novel, nearly 700 pages long, was first published in December 1955 by the "Czytelnik" Publishing Cooperative. Since then - reprinted many times - it has sold tens of thousands of copies.
Summary of the novel
The action of the novel takes place in Warsaw in the 1950s. A mysterious figure with bright, even glowing eyes appears in the city, defending the oppressed inhabitants, e.g. victims of attacks. For each of the survivors, the savior looks a bit different and each describes him differently. For this reason, the police cannot identify the savior. A case is described in which a young girl Marta Majewska is attacked. The mysterious figure appeared as if from under the ground and chased the thugs away. The witness of the whole event was an older salesman in the kiosk - Mr. Janusz. An ambulance arrives at the scene of the attack - a young, handsome doctor Witold Halski reveals his weakness towards a very charming girl. We also meet Olimpia Szuwar, who runs a lot of suspicious business. She is a forty-year-old widow, in love with a handsome doctor, and the president of the "Woreczek" cooperative is very passionate about her. Unfortunately, the man has strong ties to the criminal world of Warsaw. Jealous of Witold Halski, he hires bandits to attack the young doctor. Warsaw is starting to become the capital of attacks, attacks and dangers - residents feel more and more threatened in the city. One evening, a mysterious individual again thwarts the development of a scuffle on the ice rink, fired by suspected thugs. The gentleman showed excellent physical abilities. Another time, the night city bus becomes such a battlefield. The driver and one of the bravest passengers defeated a group of vandals with the help of a stranger.
In the city, everyone speculates about a mysterious defender of Warsaw residents. The villains unite to defeat the man who becomes a threat to them. The group is led by "Kudłat", whom only the aforementioned president of the cooperative - Filip knows. The criminal world begins to call the mysterious defender of the inhabitants "Bad". The Evil One, in turn, establishes contact with the bolder men in the city and devises a plan of defense, and then attacks against the villains allied against him. At the same time, Lieutenant Michał Dziarski begins to conduct an investigation, shrouded in one great mystery, but the clever policeman guesses many circumstances - he is only waiting for the right moment to step into action. Another investigation is being conducted by journalist Kuba Wirus, who loves to dig up fantastic and improbable stories. In order to understand the whole matter, he gets involved in the criminal environment, but it ends tragically for him - he dies at the hands of "Shaggy". In the meantime, Marta Majewska has no contact with Witold and is very worried about him, she is imprisoned by one of the thugs, and the doctor, after being beaten, starts looking for her.
The day is coming when an important football match between Poland and Hungary is to take place in Warsaw. The city scammers are organizing a huge campaign to sell fake tickets. However, their plan is exposed. The president of the cooperative plans to leave the country with Olimpia, but he meets the "Bad" earlier. Then, Lieutenant Dziarski appears, explaining to the reader the motives behind the mysterious defender's actions.