The object of the author’s interpretative investigation is the figure of harlequin in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness (1899). The figure’s hermeneutics is carried out in the broad contexts of Russia’s cultural anthropology and Russian history from the reign of Ivan the Terrible till modern times. Conrad’s views on Russia are also confronted with Polish 20th c. political science discussions on Russian cases (e.g. the voices by Gustaw Herling-Grudziński, Czesław Miłosz, Wit Tarnawski), Polish Sovietological school theories (Bogmił Jasinowski, Marian Zdziechowski), Western Sovietologists’ opinions (Richard Pipes, Alain Besançon), the practice of Russian colonialism (Ewa M. Thompson’s work) and others. In the light of these investigations the harlequin is seen as a prophetic symbol, a foretoken of Bolshevik anti-culture and as a metonymy of Russia as well as of the processes leading it from the czarist oppression to communist totalitarianism, and in consequence also to Vladimir Putin’s oligarchic system.
The article offers an interpretation of a series of texts composed by Polish writers inspired by as famous as mysterious episode from Leo Tolstoy’s life. Produced over a span of a century, they comprise the pieces (poems, short stories, essays, novels, diarist notes) by Bolesław Leśmian, Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz, Adolf Rudnicki, Leopold Staff, Mieczysław Jastrun, Władysław Terlecki, Zbigniew Herbert, Gustaw Herling-Grudziński, Tadeusz Różewicz. The author presents the worldview, historical-political as well as personal circumstances of the escape’s and the figure of Tolstoy’s interpretations by Polish writers, the interpretations being amazingly differentiated, often contradictory, oftentimes entering into dialogical relationships. Probably the most interesting of the pieces in question are unknown to a wider public Bolesław Leśmian’s sketch and a set of Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz’s texts, in which Iwaszkiewicz (as can be seen in the light of his recently published Diaries) makes Tolstoy’s escape his private myth.
The objective of the article is an analysis of Czesław Miłosz’s essay Russia (Rosja) taking into consideration its most important pre-text, Adam Mickiewicz’s Item (Ustęp) to Forefathers’ Eve Part III (Dziady, część III). The starting point of Miłosz’s text is a contrastive comparison of Polish (or European) and Russian culture and mentality. The communicative situation outlined in this manner is a reflection of Polish-Russian political state of affairs at the time of the essay’s composition which can be described as a “double-bind” arrangement. The subject of the piece by Miłosz adopts in this arrangement the role of a victim, at the same time identifying itself with its national community, while Russia performs the role of an oppressor. In psychiatric descriptions of double bind the preservation of the persecutor’s negative image is necessary for the victim to retain its internal integrity. The essay’s subject is therefore trying to fulfil its role referring to negative stereotype about Russia, and in this stereotype is looking for an explanation for its own “obsession” about the country. On the other hand, Miłosz in Russia carries out a kind of literary psychoanalysis which offers possibilities of going beyond the uncompromising polarisation of the Poles and the Russians. Indicating the Gnostic roots of Russian culture, the poet forms bases of metadiscourse about Russia since cultural heterodoxy is by no means only Russian phenomenon. It is rather the reverse: Gnostic influences are seen in European culture with a naked eye, especially in the 20th century. As a result of this psychoanalytical process, Russia is manifest in Miłosz’s essay as an embodiment of Freud’s “the uncanny” (“das Unheimliche”). According to Sigmund Freud, “the uncanny” terrifies us not because it is alien but contrary to that, because it is a part of “our” which we have denied and for that reason it causes fear. This truth, however, is unpronounced by the essay’s subject and in Miłosz’s piece it remains somewhat hidden in the shadow of stereotypical images about Russia.
Falling into the tradition of intellectual history, the article is an attempt to present the way one reads Czesław Miłosz’s essay writings from the angle of a modernizing project included in it aiming at Europeanization of Polish culture. The author tries to prove that “private obligations” might be seen as one of the central category in Miłosz’s thinking, and ponders over the mode this concept mirrors not only directly his creativity but also the model of behavior of a contemporary Polish intellectual which the writer proposes. The text may furthermore be regarded as a peculiar case study: Miłosz’s suggested solutions are here followed as based on the references to Russian culture present in his sketches and correspondence.
The article examines the way a bilingual poet Joseph Brodsky translated one of his Russian language poems into English. Taking this lyrical poem as an example, the article aims to identify the poet’s practical approach to translation. It starts by examining how the poet views the poetic form and the translation process, and then proceeds to analyse both texts at different levels of verse structure to allow the reader to compare and understand the semantic functions of the poet’s choices. The conclusion is that, when recreating his poem in English, Brodsky primarily seeks to follow the formal matrix of the Russian original through mimetic translation. By so doing, he effectively “Russianizes” his English while trying to respect the nature of his target language at the same time. The article ends by proposing an interpretation of both texts which shows that, in reality, they are actually quite similar.
Published here are 5 letters to Stefan Żeromski and his wife written from 1892 to 1898 by Roman Dmowski, an eminent activist of The National Democracy. A few years later Żeromski and Dmowski became outstanding figures of two fighting political parties, and at that time both of them spoke quite critically about each other. Before that time, when at the beginning of 20th century the Polish political scene became polarized, the two cooperated and even developed friendship the testimony of which is the set of letters published here.
The article revives to the common memory the figure of Aurelia (Aura) Wyleżyńska (1881–1944), a women writer today forgotten but well-known and recognized in the Inter-War Years. Wyleżyńska’s Notatki pamiętnikarskie (Memoir Notes) (preserved in typescript version and partially in manuscript and deposited by her family and friends in The Central Archives of Modern Records and in The National Library in Warsaw) form a valuable testimony of Varsovian life under the Nazi occupation and reveal private life of heroes during the World War I and in the first years after regaining independence. Wyleżyńska’s literary creativity closes in the first part of the 20th century (1909–1943). The article draws attention to her artistic interests, inspirations and the circumstances which gave rise to the text’s composition. Resorting to the archive materials, it offers pieces of information which remained unknown in her biography. One of them was her marriage to Jan Parandowski (1895–1978), which they entered into at the time of their World War I Russian internment. This little-known fragment of their biography, often recollected on the pages of the unpublished Wyleżyńska’s war diary, is a key to the interpretation of her creativity.
The article is the first on both Polish and Russian ground presentation of the figure of Yevgeniya Veber-Hiryakova (1895–1939), who was a journalist, literary critic, and an outstanding analyst of Soviet culture. After the revolution in Russia she emigrated. In Poland in the 30s last century she collaborated with Russian newspapers in exile edited by Dmitry Filosofov and also published articles in the Polish press. Veber-Hiryakova was a co-founder of the Polish-Russian discussion club “Domik w Kołomnie” (“A House at Kolomna”) which worked in Warsaw from 1934 to 1936. She also maintained regular contact with Polish intellectual elite and remained Maria Dąbrowska’s close friend. Annexed to the article is an undelivered and unpublished Veber-Hiryakova’s speech on Dąbrowska’s Noce i dnie (Nights and Days).
The aim of the article is a presentation of the way censorship activities influenced the shape of “Literary News” (“Nowiny Literackie”) edited by Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz and issued from 1947 to 1948. It shows how censorship impoverished the periodical’s program, and also the divergence between what was published and the actual views on literature of the writers connected with this weekly. The research material is composed of interventions preserved in the records of The Central Bureau of Press, Publication and Show Control (Główny Urząd Kontroli Prasy, Publikacji i Widowisk). Revelation of such interventions makes it possible to sketch a fuller ideological face of the weekly, discloses the attempts to shape the image of “Literary News” against a deepening ideologisation of culture: the editors’ and authors’ struggles with censorship, their fight with conformity, their stressing the danger of the new concept of realism, and defense of tradition. “Literary News” postulated opening to Western literature and emigration literature, took part in the well-known censorship-controlled discussions waged in the papers of that time (dispute over realism, existentialism, formalism, evaluation of the Inter-War Years).
Jan Józef Lipski is a legend-figure in the Institute of Literary Research society. A Warsaw insurgent (fought in the borough of Mokotów), literary scholar (his main interests included the expressionism and Jan Kasprowicz studies), literary critic (initially warmly wrote about Zbigniew Herbert and Miron Białoszewski), publisher (among others, with his wife Maria, published a selection of priest Benedykt Chmielowski’s Nowe Ateny (New Athens), editor (worked for Państwowy Instytut Wydawniczy (The State Publishing Institute PIW) and his achievement is, inter alia, a re-edition of Witold Gombrowicz’s Ferdydurke in 1956. His biography as a Polish scholar greatly suffered due to repressions directed towards him for his solidarity with the opposition, which is worth recollecting. Throughout his mature life Lipski was related to the Institute of Literary Research. The article presents the earliest years of his activities.
Review: Bolesław Leśmian, Dzieła wszystkie. Zebrał i opracował Jacek Trznadel. [T. 1:] Poezje zebrane. (Warszawa 2010); [t. 2:] Szkice literackie. (Warszawa 2011); [t. 3:] Baśnie i inne utwory prozą. (Warszawa 2012); [t. 4:] Utwory dramatyczne. – Listy. (Warszawa 2012)
The review discusses a four-volume edition of Collected Works of a great poet Bolesław Leśmian launched no sooner than 75 years after his death. The reviewer accurately presents each volume of the edition, points at omissions, mistakes and unjustified changes in the texts introduced by the editor. The paper concludes with the thought that we are still waiting for a conscientious edition of Leśmian’s works.
Review: Magdalena Ruta, Bez Żydów? Literatura jidysz w PRL o Zagładzie, Polsce i komunizmie. Kraków–Budapeszt 2012
The review discusses Magdalena Ruta’s book Bez Żydów? (Without the Jews?), a precursory study of prose and poetical texts recorded in Yiddish.
Review: Łukasz Garbal, Edytorstwo. Jak wydawać współczesne teksty literackie. Warszawa 2011
The review contains a discussion about Łukasz Garbal’s book. Garbal’s ambition was to systematize the issues connected with contemporary literary texts editing, yet the mode of editorial problems presentation and scarcity of substantial solutions make the readers may feel it insufficient and would become disappointed.