Issue: 1/2018

Pamiętnik Literacki 1 / 2018

Bibliographical Review

The Semantics of “Fraszka” (“Trifle”) and Cultural Contexts

The text treats of the genealogical name “fraszka” (trifle) borrowed by Jan Kochanowski from the Italian language. It is an attempt to answer the question about the literary motivation of the name of the collection, and points out to its ancient context, namely to a small attribute a branch with which the ancients performed their poetical works (scolia) during their feasts. The mechanism of semantic derivation allows to discern a metonymy of a sign in this name. The analysis of the communication situation in the poems, which make up Fraszki (Trifles) confirms the social and entertaining nature of the poetic collection. This is also suggested in external opinions about the collective audience, the “good companion,” for whom the trifles were written. The Polish language collection is parallel not only in the scope of form, but also in the thematic dominant to the collection of Latin Foricoenia.

Romantic Subjectivity–Problems with Sensuality
A Reconnaissance of the Case of Zygmunt Krasiński’s Correspondence

The article is devoted to a reflection on sensuality and representations of mental experience in Zygmunt Krasiński’s correspondence. It depicts the themes related to the phenomena and presents a hierarchy of senses with a marked sight-centrism. The poet proves to be a figure that desensualises experience, and he strives to inward it. The vision of ideal subjectivity formulated by Krasiński admittedly sets up a synthesis of body and soul as the vision gives a spiritual character to what is sensual. Residual sensual experience is in the poet occupied by feeling love and – especially – facing disease and death.

Depiction and Projection
On Cyprian Norwid’s “Fortepian Szopena” (“Chopin’s Piano”)

The article attempts to interpret Cyprian Norwid’s poem Fortepian Szopena (Chopin’s Piano). The choice of the interpretation’s principal categories, namely “depiction” and “projection,” is inspired by Jan Mukařovský’s literary critical term “semantic gesture.” Applying the two aforementioned categories derived from the inside of the poem, as well as from such philosophers as Emmanuel Lévinas, Alfred North Whitehead, and Maurice Merleau-Ponty, the author of the article takes up the issue of Norwidian myth of Polishness, myth of an artist, philosophy of creation, and philosophy of music. The paper also includes a reflection about the poem’s manuscript.

A Sketch to Marie Krysinska’s Literary Portrait

Marie Krysinska, a woman writer, composer and signer, made a substantial contribution to philosophy and aesthetics of her epoch. In her output she took up, inter alia, the issues of creativity, genius, and women’s place in society. Her work is characterised by diversity of sources and influences as various arts, literature and science enter in it into a continuous discourse. Krysinska’s connections with music constitute, e.g. her activity in two cabarets ”Les Hydropathes” and ”Le Chat noir”. In 1880s she was engaged into a controversy over free verse (vers libre); she disallowed to diminish her role in introduction free verse into French poetry, for which her contemporaries and later critics punished her by exclusion. The fight she fought for the free verse is predominantly a fight for acknowledging equality of men and women in the domain of science and art.

“White Lady passed the salon again!...”
Ghosts, Witches and Demons in Maria Pawlikowska-Jasnorzewska’s Poetry

The article aims at discussing the motive of extra-terrestrial creature presence (devils, witches, ghosts) in the poems by the most outstanding poetess of the inter-war period. Maria Pawlikowska-Jasnorzewska showed her interest in magic and seances as early as in her childhood, which was attested primarily in her 1929–1930 collections of poems: Paryż (Paris) (especially the cycle Duchy <Ghosts>) and Profil białej damy (A Profile of White Lady). The paper points at some elements which prove the poetess’ fascination, namely titles of collections and single poems (Różowa magia <Pink Magic>, Rada pani Girard, czarownicy <The Advice of Mme, Girard, a Witch>), poems that reflect experience of a forlorn poetess (Czarownicy Paryża <The Magicians of Paris>) or such poems which mirror her acquaintance with books that touch demonological problems (Historia o czarownicach <A Tale of Three Witches>), and ultimately–poems which bring the problem of gentle spiritism and spinning around the theme of necessity of love (Nieudany Seans <An Unsuccessful Seance>). Ghosts, demons and witches in Pawlikowska-Jasnorzewska’s take various shapes each of which, as the author of the paper maintains, deserves better recognition.

Aleksander Wat’s Acute Poems

The article takes up a thought over one of the most vital theme of Aleksander Wat’s post-war creativity, namely suffering. The notion is set into the context of radical hermeneutics of John D. Caputo who in his philosophy distinguishes between body (healthy body) and flesh (a suffering one). Wat’s subject is seen by the author as flesh which issues a moral challenge to body – the reader. Interpretation is organised around “acuteness” of Wat’s texts – moving ones, calling for ethical commitment (how to responsibly respond to suffering?), and at the same time radically ambiguous, sense-forming, heterogeneous (how to remain fair against their complexity?). In the course of interpretation the phenomenon of dying is scrutinised, and it is viewed as an insolvability that structures Wat’s entire post-war poetry and that conditions its aporetic nature.

“Body Barrier Is Impassable”
Adam Ważyk’s Embodiments

The article discusses the functions, meanings and motives of body in Adam Ważyk’s writings, revising the existing convictions about its solely textual character connected with awareness (or imagery) and constructivist nature. Reconstructing this Ważyk’s symbolic figure as based on biographical and memorial contexts, the paper attempts to embody the poet and to show the way in which the theme presence/absence of the body mirror Ważyk’s poetical and literary-critical reflections. The author’s considerations focus on Ważyk’s post-war creativity and its processual character, and aims at presenting somaticity as a vital, though carefully hidden, element in the process of transforming one’s own life into literature.

Stanisław Czerniak’s Poetry of Ontological Paradoxes

The author of the article points at an original mode in which Stanisław Czerniak in his poetry approaches an array of classical philosophical tropes. He starts his paper with a reflection about how, in general, the relation between philosophy and poetry should be captured, as their discourses on the one hand show mutual affinity and overlap in many points, yet on the other hand, they are differentiated in their treatment of linguistic material. While philosophers accentuate its abstract, conceptual side, poets emphasise the representative aspect of the concrete, “think” mainly in the picture built in the words of a poem, and not in terms of notion. Next, as based on selected Czerniak poems’ interpretations and their fragments, the paper demonstrates the particular way in which he poetically deals with the key philosophical notions of time, nothingness, hierarchy of entities, culture–nature relationship, God’s existence, phenomenon of death etc. A characteristic trait of Czerniak’s treatment of those issues is displaying ontological paradoxes which reside in them. Much attention in the paper is also paid to such Czerniak’s pieces in which the poet is critical about the various myths and illusory images that mark the thought of today’s Internet and smartphone society. In such interpretations, special attention is given to the linguistic side of Czerniak’s poems in which the poet performs sophisticated plays on words.

“I forgot to ask if tongues please you”
Some Remarks on Language, Conversation and Community in Piotr Sommer’s Poetry

The present article is an attempt to read Piotr Sommer’s poems, in the reading of which special emphasis is put on the interpretation of the conversation present and/or held in the poems, and  which is regarded as a hermeneutic category. A broad approach to the problem (not only of conversation about speaking and language in general, but also of a private conversation between two close people), to which Hans-Georg Gadamer’s and Emmanuel Lévinas’s philosophical thought forms a crucial context, allows to display an inextricable connection between two types of poems, namely autothematic and private, and to subordinate them to a purpose which might be a will to create or to sustain a communication community.

Visualising Story as Writing
On Oskar Kolberg’s Work on Folk Texts

The subject of the paper are folk tales presented here as a complex and multilayer cultural palimpsest which combines orality and textuality, folk creation, and high culture conventions demonstrated in a work of a folklorist – collector and editor. The issue of diverse  understanding of fidelity of recording the folklore texts in the 19th c. is discussed here – as based on the analyses of field records the effects of spoken words transcriptions are reconstructed. The paper also accounts for many various performative aspects (e.g. the character of situation, tone of voice and gestures), then it the specificity of the work of folklorist-editor who wanted to most generously offer the reader what he saw and heard. The article’s goal is finding the context of Kolberg’s fables creation, namely all that accompanies telling the stories but lies outside the word.

Józef Wittlin–Tracing Escape and Salvation

The article refers to war and post-war life of Józef Wittlin and his family. It initially depicts his trials and tribulations from the moment of the poet’s departure to the former Royaumont Abbey near Paris in June 1939 till his voyage from Lisbon to the USA in January 1941. From the moment Wittlin reached America he permanently lived in New York, struggling with numerous health and financial problems. In spite of that he continued his writing, and was even laureate of American awards for literature. In the year 1948 he finally decided to stay in America. His memories (continued till his death, though not always published) depict America as an emigrant-unfriendly country. Truly, however, Polish writers (e.g. Aleksander Janta-Połczyński, Kazimierz Wierzyński, Czesław Miłosz) left also a different images of this country, and Wittlin’s voice should not be seen as the only reflection on American reality since it almost completely neglects its positive sides. All in all, Wittlin gives a provocative vision of the country and compels to a discussion on the American myth.

A Postromantic Look
Review: Zbigniew Przychodniak, Poszukiwania, cierpienia i eksplozje. Dwanaście szkiców postromantycznych. Kraków (2016)

The text discusses Zbigniew Przychodniak’s book–a collection of twelve literary historical sketches concentrated on three problems connected with romantic worldview, namely quest, suffering, and explosion. The “postromantic” stance adopted by the author allows to present Romanticism as “a transhistorical existence,” a part of our contemporaneity, but also helps to deeply insight into the complexity of attitude to the Polish Romantic tradition.

From the World of Opera
Review: Alina Borkowska-Rychlewska, Elżbieta Nowicka, Opery Verdiego w polskich XIX-wiecznych przekładach. Poznań 2016

The review discusses Alina Borkowska-Rychlewska and Elżbieta Nowicka’s book which contains reprints of six Polish translations of Giuseppe Verdi’s most famous libretti and comprehensive commentaries to each of them. The presented studies fall into the modern opera studies and considerably broaden it with the scope of Verdi’s output reception in Poland, the issue of opera libretto translation, the shaping of music and theatre criticism in Poland, as well as discussion on the idea of national opera.

A Roly Poly Toy, or the Matter of Polish-Russian (Circum)Literary Relationships
Review: Anna Sobieska, Wokół Aleksandra Błoka. Z dziejów polskich fascynacji kulturą i literaturą rosyjską. Warszawa 2015

The text discusses Anna Sobieska’s book Wokół Aleksandra Błoka. Z dziejów polskich fascynacji kulturą i literaturą rosyjską (Around Alexander Blok. On the History of Polish Fascination with Russian Culture and Literature) (Warszawa 2015). The monograph is comparative in its character, and the heart of its matter is defined by two purposes, the first being to investigate the reasons for Blok’s creativity seduction of Polish receivers’ mind and imagination, and the second – to describe the nature and effects of this relationship which was born at the turn of 19th and 20th c. against the extraliterary situation and opposite to prejudice and oppressive atmosphere. The book is a distinctive voice in a discussion on Polish-Russian relationship.

Miłosz Read in a Maiden Room, or How Not To Be Useful
Review: Ewa Kołodziejczyk, Amerykańskie powojnie Czesława Miłosza. Warszawa 2015

The review discusses Ewa Kołodziejczyk’s book on broadly understood literary activity of Czesław Miłosz shortly after World War II. The assessment of the volume is strongly negative; especially questionable are the author’s interpretive ideas, yet more importantly doubtful are her reliability of facts and texts presentation, and even bibliographical data.

Return to (Philological) Sources
Review: Jakub Z. Lichański, „Niobe” Konstantego Ildefonsa Gałczyńskiego. „Ty jesteś moja światłość świata...” Kraków (2015)

The text reviews Jakub Z. Lichański’s book devoted to Konstanty Ildefons Gałczyński’s epic poem Niobe (1951). Lichański approaches the piece from the perspective of rhetorical criticism and philological method, also respecting the cultural-historical context of Gałczyński’s poem creation.

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