Constructing his poetic world, Jan Kochanowski on the one hand acted as a typical Renaissance poeta faber pertaining to the figure of the demiurge from Plato’s Timaeus, while on the other hand he transgressed thus established frames. He ordered collections of his poems as architectural compositions referring to the tradition preserved in old textbooks in rhetoric, yet filled them with deeply hidden pieces of information about himself, in which, as a matter of fact, he followed the Christian God’s modus operandi. In doing so, he oftentimes took advantage of cryptological procedures used in the then diplomatic correspondence. The moment the world of words and values constructed in this way collapsed due to the poet’s personal experience, in Treny (Laments) he brought about its magic reintegration. Kochanowski also surpassed Plato’s demiurge in one more aspect. In his literary creativity he realised a peculiar act of auto-creation of which the description, employing alchemist symbolism, is found in the trifle Do gór i lasów (To the Mountains and Forests) (III 1).
The subject of the article is an unknown account of late Medieval Passion with the incipit “Pozdrowion bądź, krzyżu święty” (“Be regarded, holly Cross”) found by the author of the paper. The handwritten relic is preserved in incunabulum (signature 000298), it contains Jacobus de Voraigne’s Legendae de sanctis (Golden Legend), and belongs to the Diocesan Library in Sandomierz. The hymn is a closing part of a passion sermon and functions as a marginal note on 76 recto page next to a Latin text De passione Domini. It was composed at the end of the 15th c. or at the beginning of the 16th c. The recovered piece belongs to song and prose offspring of Venantius Fortunatus entitled Vexilla regis prodeunt, and more specifically one of its stanza “O crux, ave, spes unica…” It offers a presentation of Jesus Passion typical of dolorism and the issues of compassio, also representative of it. The article discusses the kinship of this hymn with other pieces of this kind, sketches the religious-cultural background on which the piece was composed and reviews all other Polish texts which regard the Cross.
The article’s subject matter is the fortune of “The Lord’s Prayer” seen as a text of culture, which includes, inter alia, shifts into various ideological registers and circulations as well as presence in both religious and literary tradition. The author discusses Jacob Merler’s 1630 liturgy Psalterium tempore belli, its two (French and Polish) translations from the end of the 18th c. and a verse paraphrase of a baroque poet Stanisław Chrościński (Pacierz <Prayer> from the year 1710). In the last piece the author of the article sees the first on the Polish ground patriotic prayer and a hypothetical example of unnoticed relationships between high-artistic literature and popular devotional writing, especially with prayer books.
The intriguing story of the repeated appearance of the ghost of a dead father is an introduction to the turbulent life of a particular historical figure, i.e. Louis Alidosius. The story also helps to understand, to some degree, the thinking and reality of the period long time ago. Moreover, it facilitates the understanding of the features of exemplum. It turns out that the form is still valid and, based on the outlooks on the world deeply rooted in the European mentality, is still comprehensible. The main character of the story, the duke of the city-state of Imola, is depicted by historians as a comprehensively educated and noble person. The ideas fostered by Louis obviously characterise a new period in history, namely the Renaissance. His only fault was rationalism, which prevented him from believing that an encounter with the dead was possible. Leaving aside a contemporary assessment of that phenomenon, it is worth noting that, according to all sources, the phenomenon was the result of an extremely unfortunate event that once, i.e. the loss of his rule over his home town. The prophecy told by Beltrand determined his son’s whole life, surrendering it to the power of ill fate. Sometimes the Renaissance belief in supernatural intervention is regarded as the legacy of the Middle Ages. It cannot, however, be ruled out that fatalism appeared in the minds of humanists as a natural consequence of their desire to re-experience the period of antiquity. Alongside writing, literature and attempts to get an insight into the reality of antiquity, humanists somehow unintentionally began to think in a way typical of the long-gone period.
The theme of the article is to present the work based on Franciszek Sitański’s, Pszczółka w bursztynie (Bee in the Amber, Cracow 1627) – using metaphorical imagery coming from monastic life (vita contemplativa), and to show through ekphrasis the virtues cultivated by nuns. It also becomes apparent in relation to the figure of St. Dorothy (3rd century AD), the martyrs of Caesarea in Cappadocia, and Dorota Kątska (1558–1643), Abbess of St. Norbert’s Order in the then village of Zwierzyniec near Cracow, the role of the visual sphere and the ways of transposing the visual into language material. Attention is also paid to the function of metaphors and their power of visualization, through which the images of things and phenomena can be observed.
Andromacha by Stanisław Morsztyn is the first Polish translation of the tragedy by Jean Racine, which dates back to the 1690s. The study describes a clash of two artistic strategies present in the text: the first strategy aims at highlighting the whole tragedy outlined by the translator while the second one emphasizes smaller text units. The first part of the text concerns Morsztyn’s application of intertextual strategies. The translator aptly interprets Racine’s references to ancient literature and adds some of his own (he quotes, for example, verses 63–64 from the second Heroid by Ovid – omitted by the author in his rendering of this fragment in verses 455–462). Within the scope of Polish literature, he introduces references to the works of Jan Kochanowski (Songs, I 17) and Łukasz Górnicki (Troas, II 281–282, 515–516) among many others. Moreover, Morsztyn imparts a dramatic sense to intertextual references, which is in accordance with the strategy employed in the original text. The second part of the text is devoted to the translator’s use of rhetorical devices. One may note here the reinforcement of a logical and ethical dimension of the character’s dialogues, which sometimes takes place at the cost of pathetic dimension (omission of syntactic disorders as a marker of strong emotions). The last part addresses the problem of dramatic insertion of oratorical and lyrical passages, such as tirades and monologues. A slight tendency to emphasize the autonomy of declamatory parts is noticeable – at the cost of organic unity of the drama. In the whole of the translation, one may identify moments of the translator’s weakening control over tragedy structure looked at as a whole. However, this can be regarded as internally conditioned by the literary system of classicism.
The article is devoted to two problems, namely spatiotemporal structure and poetic picture of Bogurodzica. “Polymorphism” (“variantivity”) of the Kcynia account of the piece imposes the basic choice to be made: either to accept one of five records made by medievalists as a verbal basis of the text’s spatiotemporal structure recognition or to go above the verse reconstructions and have a general view on all five records. The second option seems more pertinent. Speaking somewhat provocatively, Bogurodzica – a work of art of imagery – appears to be a contradiction of verbal presentation plasticity since it can be read as a sequence of spotlit recollection of human and divine figures (their statuses and actions remain merely signalled; a more full vision of what the text in a radically synthetic expresses is conditioned by theological knowledge completion – a crucial element of the text’s macrocosm).
The Castellan of Poznań, Krzysztof Grzymułtowski’s speech delivered in the Seym in 1665 is an example of inner differentiation in a statement’s style. Besides the “high” style, rich in the applications of rhetorical tools, there are some parts in the “average” style and look almost like a colloquial language.
Parliamentary speeches of the second half of 17th century are the excellent base for studies of then forming “average-official” style of statement.
A characteristic feature of the early modern primers of all confessional shades was a combination of grammatical material with a fairly large selection of religious texts, which served a dual role: they contributed to religious consciousness formation of children and helped in acquisition of reading. A comparison of those selections allows to specify four models which dominated in the 16th century. The earliest one is the so-called liturgical model and the model of the medieval parish catechetical instruction (Ortografia <Ortography> by Stanisław Zaborowski, 1514–1515; Nauka ku czytaniu dziatkam […] <A Study of Reading for Children […]> by a Poznań printer Piotr Sextilis, 1556). The Reformation led to the creation of two more models: ABC-books, which followed Small Catechism of Martin Luther (Nauka krótka ku czytaniu pisma polskiego. Kraków: Jan Januszowski, the second half of the 16th century) and primers arranged in the genre of “Spruchbücher” (Elementarz polsko-łaciński <A Polish-Latin Primer>. Kraków: Łazarz Andrysowic, ca. 1550; Elementaria institutio Latini sermonis, et pietatis christianae. Kraków: Maciej Wirzbięta, 1575). In the 17th and 18th centuries numerically dominated textbooks imitated the model of the medieval parish catechetical instruction, which has been extended in catechisms in the form of questions and answers.
The article refers to ambiguous fragments of the famous cycle Rytmy abo wiersze polskie (Polish Rhythms, or Verses) by Mikołaj Sęp Szarzyński. Their meaning is dependent on the choice of one of two punctuation patterns. The paper presents both interpretations of each of the equivocal places and points to the primary version. Such interpretative efforts are demonstrated to be worthwhile, yet having their limits. In this context, notice is taken of the decisions concerning the punctuation made by numerous editors of Sęp’s pieces in question and editor’s role in the literary text interpretation process is emphasized.
Wieśniak, issued first time in the year 1660, is the last piece by a 16th c. poet Andrzej Zbylitowski. Readers knew the text from a 19th edition by Teodor Wierzbowski, as the first edition was thought to have been lost. Zbylitowski’s work is now important mainly for linguists, and was included into the text corpus of Słownik polszczyzny XVI wieku (16th-Century Polish Language Dictionary). Results of library research reveal that the first edition and also the copy used by Wierzbowski is preserved under the number 77135 in The Lviv National Vasyl Stefanyk Scientific Library of Ukraine. The article juxtaposes the first edition with Wierzbowski’s edition, discusses the editor’s decisions and the solutions he adopted, as well as the errors present in his copy.
A popular collection of emblems Pia desideria (1624) by a Jesuit Herman Hugo appeared for the first time in Poland in 1673 in the well-known Polish translation. The Polish translator of the collection, Aleksander Teodor Lacki, Lithuanian court marshal, preceded it with a dedication to Konstancja Krystyna Wielopolska, his wife’s niece. However, in a transcript of the text an initial foreword dedication from two years earlier, to Gryzelda Konstancja Wiśniowiecka (King Michał Korybut Wiśniowiecki’s mother) survived. The new preface has both a different addressee and style: it is a gathering of concepts referring to the addressee’s coat of arms, typical of panegyrical prints devoted to magnates and nobility. Whereas the preface offered to Wiśniowiecka presents Pia desideria as a spiritual romance of Soul and its mystic Betrothed. Such reading respects first and foremost the needs of woman readers to whom Lacki’s translation was mainly directed, showing the extent to which the religious emblem became at that time a woman’s domain. The article terminates with the edition of the 1671 preface analysed here, being its first complete publication to date.
The article refers to the author of translation of Lidia (Lydie; full title Historia Florydana z Lidią <A History of Floridan and Lydie>) which is regarded as one of Wacław Potocki’s romances. There is much indication that Lidia is wrongly attributed to Potocki. The analysis of the epic shape of the piece in the context of the writer’s other romances, the manuscript condition, and the original language leads to the conclusion that Lidia was composed by a different author.
Arians, called in the 17th c. Socynians or Polish Brethren, made a radical fraction of the Polish Reformation. For that reason they were liked neither by schismatics nor by Catholics. They were quite commonly reproached with rejection of faith into the Holy Trinity and with being sympathetic with the protestant Sweden. By the decline of the 19th c. their rehabilitation is observed, which is mirrored in the belles-lettres. One of its manifestations is Ludwika Dobrzyńska-Rybicka’s drama first staged in 1901 in Poznań. This literarily poor piece awaited no further performances. Its main protagonist Zygmunt Taszycki was more accurately known only in a narrow circle of fellow believers. The figure, however, is worthy of notice.
Review: Piotr Pirecki, Szlacheckim i ludowym piórem. Szkice o literaturze polskiej doby renesansu i baroku. Łódź 2013
Piotr Pirecki’s book is a collection of 8 articles which refer to the creativity of Piotr Ciekliński, Łukasz Opaliński and anonymous rouges from the turn of the 16th and 17th c. Its fairly eclectic form might be acceptable were it not for the numerous drawbacks which are observable already at the orthographic-punctuation level. The style of the papers is also no better, as it often hampers (and even makes it impossible) to grasp the author’s intention. Most serious objections, though, pertain not to the form but to the content. Apart from simply commonplace statements we find either clearly naïve interpretations or unjustified overinterpretations. All that makes that oftentimes interesting ideas (referring either to the presence in rouge poetry such motifs as stimulants, anxiety of black humour) are presented in the way which leaves much to be desired. In sum, Pirecki’s book is a mere collection of sketches but not scholarly analyses.
Review: Sławomir Baczewski, Między satyrą a katechezą. Twórczość Karola Mikołaja Juniewicza. Lublin 2007. – Karol Mikołaj Juniewicz, Refleksyje duchowne. Wydał Maciej Pieczyński. Warszawa 2009. „Biblioteka Pisarzy Staropolskich”. Vol. 37
This is the review of Maciej Pieczyński’s critical edition of Refleksyje duchowne (Spiritual Reflexions), the eighteenth-century devotional poem, and the assessment of Sławomir Baczewski’s monograph on the poem’s author Karol Mikołaj Juniewicz.